The Department of Social Development has been under pressure to employ social worker graduates whose bursaries it paid for but can’t employ due to a lack of funds.
THE DEPARTMENT of Social Development and government departments requiring the services of social workers will make a joint bid to the National Treasury for funding for the employment of thousands of unemployed social workers.
This was revealed by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, who was responding to parliamentary questions from DA MP Bridget Masango.
Masango enquired about Zulu’s negotiations with other departments to permanently absorb the over 8,000 unemployed social workers.
The department had been under pressure to employ social worker graduates, whose bursaries it paid for but can’t employ due to a lack of funds.
Zulu said significant progress has been made to engage other departments on the employment of social workers with very promising results.
“We had an engagement with identified departments that we believe require social workers in carrying out their mandate in June 2021. Amongst the departments represented were the departments of Basic Education, Home Affairs, Correctional Services and SAPS,” she said.
Zulu also said there was unanimous agreement that social workers would add value to the specific service delivery mandates of the respective departments.
“However, what was raised as a common challenge is the limited budget within these departments to employ social workers, which may not be regarded as core to their mandates.
“To address this issue, it was agreed that a joint bid for additional funding be made to the National Treasury, which will be supported by all the departments that are represented.”
Zulu said that her department was currently collating information from the various departments on the actual needs based on their service delivery model that would form part of the business case to National Treasury.
She also said her department was currently drafting a strategy for the recruitment of social service professionals, which will be tabled in Cabinet as one of her key performance areas.
“The strategy will include various measures to ensure the employment of the unemployed graduates, not limited to the sector departments and the Department of Social portfolio.”
Meanwhile, the 1,300 social workers appointed on three-month contracts through the Presidential Employment Intervention have had their contracts extended until March due to the extension of the stimulus package.
Zulu said her department asked for funding from the National Treasury and it was advised in November that additional funding has been allocated to provinces as part of the equitable share.
“The provincial departments are currently in the process of contacting social workers from their databases with a view of appointing them from December 1, 2021 until March 31, 2022,” she said.
Zulu said the allocation from the National Treasury was for about 2,000 social workers for a period of 10 months, but the funds should be utilised by March 2022.
“Given this challenge, the provincial departments will be encouraged to employ more than their allocated numbers and deploy them in the agencies and non-profit organisations to maximise the spending challenge that has arisen,” she added.
– Political Bureau