Limpopo’s unemployed social workers in limbo

POLOKWANE

Majority of qualified social workers in Limpopo still find themselves unemployed.

This is despite the Limpopo Department of Social Development allegedly vowing to appoint them when there are vacancies in the department.

Most of the job seekers have graduated using the Limpopo Social Development Department’s bursary scheme since 2014, they still find themselves jobless.

The Unemployment Social Work Graduates recently submitted a memorandum of demands to MEC Nkakareng Rakgoale demanding answers.

They complain that since they qualified, most have been offered three to 12 months contracts, while others never got any opportunity.

“The agreement on that was that when I complete my studies I will be absorbed to serve the department the number of years which will be equivalent to the number of years which I have been financed to study. So I’m very hurt for seeing what the department is doing with us, enough is enough. We are suffering, we don’t get anything, now we have to go into contracts for three months you are helping clients, the next thing you are in the queue applying for Sassa,” said one of the unemployed graduates .

They alleged that they are rejected when they apply for other opportunities because they are still registered in the government system.

“The other thing is that when we have the contract they give us a personnel number, so when we apply for some jobs it disadvantages us because they tell us we are in the government payroll. When we apply for the R350 for unemployed grant, it says you don’t qualify because you are on a government payroll, whereas with the personnel number we have never got a full salary with it, but it’s preventing us from getting employment or from qualifying for grants.”

Limpopo department of Social Development’s Witness Tiva confirmed to SABC that they have more than 1200 social workers with honors degrees. He said there was no contractual obligation to absorb them.

He added that the department has instead undertaken to prioritise the bursary recipients when there are vacancies.

“We previously took a decision to take them to institutions of higher learning as a way of empowering them. What we have been doing was to ensure that as and when vacancies become available, we would then prioritise them. We had developed a three-year recruitment plan and unfortunately, the plan did not proceed due to the Covid-19  pandemic. As the department, we had to redirect funds towards the Covid-19 intervention. This means that the number of social workers that we were intending to employ will then be shifted to the coming financial year.

Thapelo Motseo

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