A shockingly high number of social work graduates, whose education was paid for by the Department of Social Development are still unemployed.
This is unacceptable given the need for social workers and the high rate of youth unemployment in the Eastern Cape. 67, 1% of youth in the 15 – 24 year old bracket and 43, 2% of youth in the 25 – 34 year old bracket remain unemployed.
In the Eastern Cape, a total of 1059 social work graduates from various institutions of Higher Education who were funded by the Department of Social Development have been unemployed since 2015. This is according to a response to a parliamentary question I received from the Eastern Cape Social Development MEC, Dr Pumza Dyanti.
At the end of 2017, the Department’s vacancy rate was 26.8%. According to the former MEC, Nancy Sihlwayi, the high vacancy rate and the shortage of Social Work Supervisors and Community Development Supervisors were two contributing factors to the gradual decrease in the Department’s performance.
Since 2015, only 13 graduates of the bursary scheme have been placed and employed. This means that only 0.97% of social work graduates have been utilised by the department. To date, 1059 qualified social workers have not been placed.
In a response to a written question submitted to the former MEC in August 2017, the department stated that the province is short of 1116 social workers. In some districts such as Alfred Nzo, there is a shortage of 344 social workers. According to the response, the district population is 801 342 people with only 192 social workers to provide services. That is one social worker to 4200 citizens.
The Department of Social Development’s slow pace of employing the much needed social workers in this province is costing our tax payers millions of rands as frustrated unemployed graduates sit at home.
Social workers provide much needed services in the communities in the Eastern Cape, services such as child protection and cases of gender based violence, to name but a few. The people and the unemployed graduates of the Eastern Cape are suffering at the hands of the Department of Social Development.
A DA-led government will continue to fight for our unemployed youth in this province and the people who are in need of the services of Social Development.
Kobus Botha, MPL
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