Employment opportunities for women and people with disabilities: briefing by Departments of Trade and Industry and Labour

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

23 May 2012
Chairperson: Ms D Ramodibe (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Trade and Industry addressed the various programmes and initiatives it was taking to encourage women in business and in entrepreneurial roles. Some of these programmes specifically target rural women, teaching them necessary skills to operate businesses, but also encourage creativity and ingenuity among school aged girls through competition and job shadowing outlets. Many of the Members, however, noted that the presentation was relatively silent on the programmes and future plans for disabled people, and wished that the Department had addressed these issues in some form, either describing their current work or the challenges that they face in establishing programmes for these people.

The Department of Labour focused on the changes it was trying to make to encourage the employment of women and people with disabilities, as well as creating measures to make the workplace more welcoming for them. The issue of child labour was also addressed with the Department speaking about the Child Labour Programme of Action and measures that were being taken to eradicate the most severe forms of child labour.

Meeting report

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) presentation
Mr Sipho Zikode, DTI Deputy Director General: Empowerment and Enterprise Development, introduced the mission of the DTI and how gender and women empowerment fitted into that. He explained the Department’s vision was that “South Africa had a vibrant economy characterized by growth, employment, and equity.” DTI worked to help the South African economy by identifying economic opportunities and development. He explained the Department now had a Gender and Women Empowerment Unit (GWE) to ensure that the empowerment of women formed part of the broader mandate of the DTI. The Unit was located within the Empowerment and Enterprise Development Division. Its functions demanded women specific programmes and fostered networks to encourage opportunities. DTI conducted research in the area of women enterprises to gain a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges.

Mr Zikode explained the role of the gender unit by giving examples of the groups the GWE ran (see document). The unit had formed a strategic framework on Women’s Economic Empowerment. This framework outlined initiatives focused specifically on women enterprise and their economic emancipation.
He also mentioned the Isivande Women’s Fund, which targeted women in rural areas who were beginning to enter the economy. The Fund was created to support organizations that had 60% women ownership and that had been existing for two or more years with a loan range of upto R2 million. This assisted with business support services and encouraged the success of the business.

Regarding skills development, Mr Zikode explained that women in business were still behind men in terms of management positions, but the Bavumile Skills Development Programme was designed to help artisan groups manage their enterprise by providing five-day training sessions. This skills programme trained and assisted women with aspects like packaging, customer service, bookkeeping, and registering their business. Women who had undergone this training now ran successful businesses and had been further assisted through DTI products.

Technology for Women in Business (TWIB) helped to empower women through technology based business applications and systems with the hopes of unlocking constraints and encourage growth. The group aimed to facilitate women entrepreneurs use technology based solutions for their business. The programme also focused on entrepreneurs at all levels of business, micro or macro, and sought to fast track their skills development. TWIB, a competition programme, encouraged girls to choose careers in engineering, science, and technology under the statement “A girl today, a successful entrepreneur tomorrow.”

This programme was designed to target the ten best schools from previously disadvantaged communities. Ten learners per school were selected to participate, with 100 learners per province participating. The aim was to have each school come up with an entrepreneurial idea measured in term of credibility, feasibility, practicality and originality.

Partnering with the Ministry of Women, Children, and People with Disabilities on a “techo-no-girl” programme the DTI aims to give girls job-shadowing experience.

South African Women Entrepreneur’s Network (SAWEN) was a fast-tracked strategy to support women in addressing challenges faced when establishing their own enterprises. The Business Women Association was aimed at empowering women in business. Aimed at advocacy, the DTI had partnered with the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles launched by DTI Minister, Dr Rob Davies. It was attended by over 100 CEOs who signed a pledge to advance women through a statement of support. Women Participation on Boards programme was designed to discover, train, and deploy female management talent.

The DTI had a partnership with China to focus on the clothing and textile sector there with a factory. It formalized the training and skills development for the Textile Sector.

There was the Cooperative Incentive Scheme (CIS), a 90:10 cost-sharing grant for registered primary cooperatives, in order to improve the viability and competitiveness of cooperative enterprises and to lower the cost of business. Since 2005 more than 300 women had received support from the CIS.

EMIA (Export Marketing and Investment Assistance) developed export markets for South African products and services to recruit new foreign investment. This programme rewarded Individual Exhibition Participation, Primary Market Research, and Direct Foreign Investment. To assist women’s access to markets, EMIA encouraged the participation of women in various trade missions. Most of the women were from Gauteng, KZN, and Western Cape, but support was said to have occurred across provinces.

Mr Zikode said that the DTI was leveraging the capital expenditure programme and broader government procurement to stimulate demand for local manufacturing. It was important to mainstream women and make them an important part of developing the economy. The DTI hoped to grow global protectionism through active participation.

In conclusion, he said that in the future, the DTI needed to enhance cooperation with stakeholders to encourage joint implementation and outreach. The Department hoped to intensify its research in the area of women’s enterprises and gender quality.

A chart regarding the implementation of the Employment Equity (EE) Targets from 2008 to 2011 was presented, where Mr Zikode illustrated positive growth.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Zikode for his presentation. She said this was what the Committee really wanted to see happen because one issue that had been difficult was the aggregation of information, about what was being done at home and abroad, towards this Committee’s targeted groups.

Ms I Ditshetelo (UCDP) thanked DTI for the presentation. She noted the DTI made mention of helping women and asked what criteria were used to determine who received assistance. How did the Department filter down and reach women in rural areas? The DTI spoke of progressive women, and she asked if the Department preferred to give women from villages or progressive women these opportunities. She noted only five provinces were mentioned and wondered if there were delays in reaching the others. She asked if the DTI included companies owned by disabled people.

Mr D Kekana (ANC) asked them to expand on the skills given to help women. He asked if youth, or young women, were included. When the DTI spoke of assisting women, people with disabilities, and youth to acquire skills to run businesses, he brought up the point that for every 10 businesses, seven collapse within two years, and thought this was something that needed to be taken into account. Did the DTI see a collapse before success as necessary experience in business? Finally he asked about the youth, comparing South Africa to Germany where 60% of young people learn a vocational trade, and noted that country’s success.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) thanked the DTI for their presentation. Her first question was about awareness campaigns in rural areas where the majority of women were not working. She wanted to make sure that those people were aware of the services the DTI was providing. Second, she asked about the programme on page nine, she asked how to make the winning ideas practical. Finally, in addressing people with disabilities, she wondered if most of those people were on an internship programme or permanently employed. If those jobs were internships, what was the DTI doing to incorporate them into the fulltime workforce?

Ms P Petersen-Maduna (ANC) believed that only one department needed to be present today to discuss the issue. First the Department report was quiet on disabled persons, as it only mentioned them in the EE Targets. Regarding EE targets, it was important to know at which levels were women or disabled people and DTI should show that in their report. She asked for elaboration on the EMIA scheme.

Ms H Lamoela (DA) said her understanding was that DTI needed to submit reports on their progress and on what basis that was done. She repeated a previous question on rural women and the DTI’s criteria for addressing them. It was more difficult to reach them and she expressed concern whether rural women were truly covered. She asked what challenges the Department was facing in empowering rural women. Addressing the Isivande Women’s Fund, she asked who could apply, under what criteria, and how long the process took. She expressed concern about Bavumile Skills Development Programme only containing one week of training, and asked if that was sufficient for these women, since the issue was more complex than could be handled and learned in a week. She then emphasized that very little attention was addressing disabled people and offered a suggestion towards their China project using disabled workers. Ms Lamoela expressed a desire to learn more about the successes achieved by their projects.

The Chairperson asked the DTI to speak about the sustainability of these projects. She said that in doing oversight, she asked about women selling on the pavements, and asked if there was a way of graduating them from being “survivalists”.

Ms Lamoela referred to page 17 regarding job shadowing. She asked if there were already 100 girls in shadowing positions, and if that was the case, she thought it was a fantastic idea, and wanted to congratulate them on those efforts. She expressed excitement, hoping this would be expanded towards more girls and disabled people.

Ms Tseke referred to the Comprehensive Rural Development programme, and asked what the role of the DTI was there.

Ms M Nxumalo (ANC) said she believed that Deputy Minister, Thandi Tobias-Pokolo, had a passion about working with women. She wanted to call on the Deputy Minister to speak with women in the rural areas She encouraged follow-up on interactions with women in those areas. People in rural areas did not know such information. She said there were many places where disabled people were working, and asked if DTI could go to those places and provide more training for these people.

Mr Zikode said that within the DTI there was a dedicated unit that looked at women, and there were other groups dealing with youth. Those groups worked together on strategies to emancipate the youth. There was no directorate or unit for disabled people, but there were programmes in the DTI that could benefit disabled people. This information was not specifically segregated towards addressing disabled people, so no statistics were available. When it came to cooperatives, in the past, the focus of government was on agriculture, but the current government was targeting issues of regional disparities and job creation. However, people did not necessarily understand how to form cooperatives, or then fight over money. Cooperatives legislation was currently being amended at the moment to establish an agency like the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) to deal with the issue of infrastructure to provide non-financial and financial support to cooperatives. There would be a Cooperatives Tribunal to deal with in-fighting. The Department of Higher Education was the one who needed to amend its Act to establish a cooperatives academy to provide training certificates up to a master’s degree. And there would be an advisory council to address challenges cooperatives were facing. Within the DTI, a unit had been established that would focus specifically on the informal sector, although that sector did not benefit from the government programmes.

Regarding how DTI programmes were accessed by people in rural areas, he spoke about the initiative of taking the DTI to the people. Every month, all the divisions of DTI went to rural areas and presented their programmes and how to use them.

Addressing the issue of progressive women, Mr Zikode said the DTI was currently only in a few provinces, as it was difficult to infiltrate due to the history of the regions.

On the low survival rate of enterprises, the government must try to pay for the services and products of small enterprises within thirty days, but there were many municipalities that were not playing ball at all. The Department would write to all Directors General and heads of provinces to remind them of this. He suggested that in the performance pact, there must be an agreement towards assessing the progress of the departments.

On skills development, the DTI hope to create skills through innovation. The current programme run by SEDA had put aside R300 million to establish more incubators to develop these coops. Youth job-training was addressed by a DTI-private sector joint programme, but this was not a job subsidy.

He said that a weakness of the technical competition programme was despite designing great ideas and awards, the DTI was not making follow ups. The employment effort within the DTI spoke to ‘permanently employed’, the 2% disabled were permanently employed, though this was certainly not enough. He said there were roughly 40 programmes in rural areas through the efforts of the DTI. The Department wanted to expand these special regional programmes. For a province to get assistance, it needed a sea port or international airport as points of trade, which makes them difficult to develop, but DTI was establishing Special Economic Zones to link them to other areas of South Africa.

He said the DTI was not reporting progress to the Department of Women, but this should be done regarding women.

Ms Ntombi Shangase, Director: Empowerment and Enterprise Development Division (EEDD) at the DTI, said that the Department of Women participated in development strategy.

Mr Zikode said that were programmes that were above him and there were agreements to participate in cooperatives. He then spoke to the challenges of empowering women and their time frame.

Ms Shangase said that girls were expected to create an innovative design and technology which was registered as a new invention and given support to register it with SEDA, and they were taken under the wing of DTI to monitor their progress. The Department was trying to make the project sustainable, as they wanted to encourage the progress of these girls. There was a strategic framework for gender in its final stages, and they were hoping that by the end of June it would be tabled.

Officials had met with women asking that DTI programmes address start-ups, and they were now trying to address that. Through the Technology for Women in Business (TWIB) Award, the Department tried to make the reward in terms of technology. Their goals were to try to talk to women and ask them what technology was needed for their business.

Ms Shangase addressed the challenges. With regard to the one-week training process, there was a new proposal to increase the number of women trained to 1000. There was one week of practical training, with a second week at SEDA. The Department hoped to expand to three and four weeks, and add a mentorship programme. The municipalities, not DTI, selected women for the programme. In terms of capacity and money, the need was big, but as much was done as possible.

Mr Zikode said there was the criteria of having to be a registered company and owned by women, but the DTI made a mistake of taking the programme to the IDC. Many problems resulted from this. But because of so many complaints, the Department needed to change things. As of right now, the programme was sorted out. The EMIA assisted women who wanted to export their products oversees. The other questions would be answered in a further report, such as the successes achieved. He offered to provide that report to the chair later.

The Chair said she was sorry they could not talk more, but the Department of Labour (DOL) had to present.  The Committee wanted to stress that the DTI take this matter really seriously, as they would have to ask the Minister in the National Assembly were they to feel it was not enough. She knew budgets were never enough, but she hoped to find passionate people. She said women were still not taken seriously, but that the various issues the Department was looking into would change things. She then thanked the DTI for their information and presentation.

Department of Labour (DOL) presentation
The Chair said the purpose of the Department of Labour presentation was to learn about the skills and opportunities for employment for the targeted groups of the Committee.

Ms Lerato Molebatsi, DOL Deputy Director-General: Corporate Services, said the issues to be addressed included their programmes, the budget, empowerment, and challenges. Within the DOL there were many programmes such as the Sheltered Employment Factories, public employment services for disabled persons, and a Child Labour Programme of Action (CLPA). She spoke about the legislative framework and gave a brief history of the services provided. The Sheltered Employment Factories provided work for around 3000 people, and had been long established. More white people were found in these factories, and these factories had not really grown that much. These factories created furniture and they now had contracts for multiple types. She noted that she would like more orders to make these factories a viable business entity. Their new business model was aimed at making them competitive. Their vision was to establish a national network of factories that contributed to the economic empowerment of people with disabilities.

Ms Molebatsi said slide five pertained to the number of people DOL was able to place. Gauteng placed the most work-seekers with disabilities into employment opportunities: 43.4%. The next slide dealt with placement according to gender. She noted the subsidy and budgetary allocations for 2010/11 and 2011/12 and emphasized that these numbers were demand driven. Next, on the placements for 2011/12, KNZ placed the most work-seekers with disabilities. She pointed out that the placement official at the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) in Pretoria had been vacant for a long time.

Their vision was aimed at creating employment opportunities for disabled people, and it supported national, rural, and local organizations in a similar line of work.
Ms Molebatsi addressed the gender profile at each of the factories, noting the lower levels of women being employed. She broke down, by factory, the different challenges faced by disabled persons and the numbers employed in each factory.

On the issue of child labour, the Child Labour Programme of Action (CLPA) focused on implementation by government new legislative measures against child labour, and increasing public awareness. The Children’s Act addressed child trafficking, children used by adults to commit crime, and commercial sexual exploitation of children and reinforced the provision on forced labour in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. The Department of Labour had formed the Child Labour Inter-sectoral Group (CLIG). The purpose was to combat the most severe forms of child labour, coordinate policies and programmes, and create awareness of children’s issues. As a signatory of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the DOL had committed itself to host a National Child Labour Day.

Ms Molebatsi addressed Gender Transformation in the Workplace. The figures were slightly out of date, and noted the number of women at Senior Management Service (SMS) level was now closer to 42%.

The DOL then referred to the accommodation of persons with disabilities and said this included making buildings physically accessible and making adjustments to a job or the working environment that would allowed a disabled person to function in the position. The Department was enacting empowerment programmes targeting women and people with disabilities.

The DOL spoke to the achievements on the 8-Principle Action Plan to ensure gender and disabilities were institutionalised and workplace decisions were sensitive to these issues. The Department was trying to ensure that the achievements of Gender, Youth, and Disability (GDY) policy objectives and mandates were monitored internally and externally. Reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities was reported on to the National Employment Equity Consultative Forum (NEECF) that met quarterly. The NEECF sought to eradicate any racial and gender divides and redress imbalances of the past. The DOL was concerned, though, that the employment of disabled people was concentrated at the lower salary levels.

The current Recruitment and Selection Policy and the Employment Equity Plan had made it compulsory to require Employment Equity representatives to be part of the short listing and interview processes to monitor whether managers were short listing with gender issues in mind. As required by the Employment Equity Act, Senior Managers would be assessed on Employment Equity. Numbers from Persal were used in the local employment equity forum to monitor progress and recommend action where progress was slow.

As part of the Department EE Plan, it had been identified that there was a lack of training programmes targeted at developing groups like women. The DOL would ensure the advancement of designated groups and the various Senior Managers were responsible to ensure that there was sufficient budget for this purpose. There was now a trend to retain women and people with disabilities in these positions.

Challenges that the Department faced was that although it had to put through a bid to the National Treasury to fund the establishment of a gender unit, this was rejected. As such, it was difficult to ensure that gender was mainstreamed, and ensure that 50% women representation at SMS level was reached.

In the future, the DOL hoped to redress gender imbalance in the work place especially at senior management level. Additionally, the Department hoped to embark on recruiting of the disadvantaged groups.

The Chair thanked the DOL for their presentation and asked for an explanation about the budget discrepancy.
Mr Kekana asked what was happening in both government and private sector for disabled people. On the problem of job creation for youth, he said 60% of Germany’s youth learn a vocational trade, why did South Africa not have this model to train girls in these professions?

Ms Lamoela asked about the discrepancies in the budget. Secondly, she asked about statistics for physically disabled people and found it hard to believe the DOL did not have much on the Western Cape. In terms of opportunities for disabled persons, she asked about a strategic plan for rural disabled people and what the Department was doing about this. She asked about children who were involved in the film industry. Many kids were used in this industry and how did it affect those families?

Ms Petersen-Maduna was concerned about the sheltered employment factories established 65 years ago. She asked if it was not the responsibility of the DOL to impose policies to report on collaboration with their department. She wondered who was going to monitor the gender unit and how?

Ms Ditshetelo noted that the paper document was in black and white and she was thus unable to determine in which way people were disabled, referring to the colour-coded graph on page 15.

Ms Lamoela raised the issue that disabled people face transportation problems and wondered if the department could offer comment on transport to the workplace.

The Chairperson asked approximately how many South African children had been identified as child labourers.

Ms Molebatsi said the DOL was working on a Transportation Policy, but it actually needed to be handled by the Department of Transportation. She referred to Mr Kekana’s question on vocational training, saying that it was an important question that the Department hoped to look into, but added that it would likely require collaboration with the Department of Education.

A representative from DOL’s Inspection and Enforcement Services addressed the questions on child labour. He noted that there were policies for children in the performing arts and which recognised that there were some cases in which child labour was necessary. These policies were applied to children under the age of 15, which required employers to apply for children to work. Special precautions were taken to ensure the well-being of these children, ensuring parents and schools were involved and providing stipulations for rest, nutrition, and monitoring, based on age and gender.

The Child Labour Programme of Action looked at how far South Africa had gone in confronting these measures as well as how the country dealt with social support and services. He noted that the worst forms of child labour included using a child to commit a crime and for sexual exploitation. Currently, he did not have proper statistics and numbers for child labour, saying that these forms of labour were easily hidden, which made it difficult to get an accurate count. Roughly, he suggested that 16 000 children engaged in prohibited labour and around 36 000 were absent from school because of work, not to mention the 451 000 children who faced excessive work.

The Chairperson requested that the DOL provide written answers to the outstanding questions due to time constraints. She wished the Committee had more time to discuss the matter. The Chairperson thanked everyone and adjourned the meeting.


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