Jane Sithole, MPL
Spokesperson on Health and Social Development:
Across the province, graduates who received bursaries from the department of social development are being left stranded as the department continuously fails to employ them after they have completed their studies.
The DA has been inundated with calls, emails and social media messages from graduates, who face a bleak future as they sit at home with their qualifications and no prospects of employment.
In the department’s annual report for 2011/2012 the amount of social workers employed was 444 with a vacancy rate of 6.5%, three years later, the annual report of 2013/14 shows that the amount of social workers employed is still 444 with a 10.1% vacancy rate.
What’s mind boggling is the fact that, the department’s annual performance plan for 2014/2015 states that the department will absorb 50 and 80 social work graduates in the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 financial years respectively. The department has always figures of graduates they intend to employ but have yet to employ any graduates.
During his budget speech delivered this past week, Finance MEC, Eric Kholwane announced that this year, R27 million would be set aside to absorb social work graduates. However, MEC Kholwane also announced a moratorium on all vacant funded and unfunded posts, basically meaning that the government would not be filling any vacancies except for vital posts in certain departments. This begs the question of what will happen to the graduates this year because every year, money is put aside but no appointments of graduates are made.
With the scourge of drug and alcohol addiction and other social ills that are destroying communities around the province, the department must be serious about employing these graduates who would provide a vital service for this province, Social Development MEC, Nomsa Mtshweni must immediately take steps to ensure that the absorption of social worker graduates is excluded from the moratorium as Mpumalanga runs the risk of losing these individuals to the private sector or to another province or even another country.
The DA will immediately write to MEC Mtshweni asking her to urgently put forward an action plan that will ensure Social Worker Graduates are excluded from the moratorium and that they are absorbed into the department in the new financial year.
The DA will also pose parliamentary questions to the MEC requesting the amount of graduates since 2011 and the total of those that have been absorbed into the department.