In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, social employment emerged as one of the levers that could stimulate the country’s economic recovery. As part of a host of publicly funded interventions, the South African government sought to centre and support the work already being done by civil society organisations to enable community-driven solutions to local problems through a Social Employment Fund (SEF). This kind of work includes health and caregiving work, food security and nutrition, youth support and recreation, community safety and interventions to stem gender-based violence, among others. Typically, these are activities that contribute to the “common good” rather than private goods and services.
In November 2021, civil society organisations applied to be part of the SEF. By 2022, 28 ‘Strategic Implementing Partners’ (also known as SIPs) were chosen from various parts of the country. In its pilot phase, the Social Employment Fund sought to create 50 000 jobs in a range of sectors as diverse as education support and infrastructure development. The jobs created by the stimulus package must contribute to work for the common good and should be accessible to unemployed people without formal education or prior work experience.
In this podcast, we explore the concept of social employment, what civil society organisations have learned about driving social employment, and what it will take for greater public investment in social employment initiatives. We are joined by Katie Huston, Head of Research, Innovation and Impact at Nal’ibali, Sibongile Khumalo Executive Director of the Learning Trust and Andrew Boraine, CEO of the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership.
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