The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) was announced by the former president, Mr Thabo Mbeki, in 2002. The EPWP is one part of an overall government strategy to reduce poverty through the alleviation and reduction of unemployment. It is a deliberate approach to ensure that participants gain the necessary skills, increase their capacity to earn an income and increase their chances of securing employment, and embarking on sustainable intervention in the second economy to address social and economic inequities. The EPWP aims to create employment in four sectors: infrastructure, the environment, the social sector and the economic sector. This study focused on the social sector, specifically the programme for social auxiliary workers. The goal of the study was to determine the impact of the EPWP on Social Auxiliary Work (SAWs) in the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan area.
In order to achieve this goal, a quantitative research approach was adopted to determine whether the EPWP for social auxiliary workers is successful in poverty alleviation and skills development. A questionnaire was designed as a data collection instrument which was divided into the broad categories of biographic information, poverty alleviation and skills development. Quantitative data were collected through a process of group administration.
Quantitative findings indicated that the EPWP for SAWs was successful in terms of poverty alleviation. The findings indicated that the majority of respondents who had no income before the EPWP for SAWs earned an income after enrolling into the EPWP. Those who had an income before EPWP indicated that their financial position improved after enrolling into the EPWP for SAWs. Through the findings respondents also indicated that after qualifying as SAWs, securing employment was easy. SAWs reported that they were able to afford groceries, technology (airtime), toiletries, non-consumables, accommodation and clothing after enrolling into the EPWP for SAWs. The study also found that the majority of the respondents indicated that their salary was making a big difference in their lives. Through the EPWP for SAWs, people who were unemployed received training and full time employment as SAWs. However, to confirm whether the EPWP was successful in poverty alleviation, the researcher inquired from the respondents if they agreed with the statement that the EPWP was successful in poverty alleviation. The majority of the respondents agreed that the EPWP for SAWs was successful in poverty alleviation and addressing unemployment. Therefore, it was concluded that the EPWP for SAWs was successful in poverty alleviation.
In terms of skills development the researcher focused on the skills development before the respondents enrolled into the EPWP for SAWs and skills development after enrolling. It was concluded that the majority of respondents did not have financial skills; namely budgeting, saving and counting money, spending money wisely, investing money, depositing and transferring money. However, the findings of this study pointed to the conclusion that the respondents obtained those skills after enrolling into the programme. The study also focused on other forms of skills that the respondents obtained through the EPWP for SAWs training. Those skills included access to social services, communications and networking and bonding in the community. These forms of skills development were also explored in this research as it correlated with the Exit Level Outcomes (ELOs) of the SAW programme as registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). It thus appeared that the respondents obtained all the skills requirements in line with the ELOs for the SAW qualification. The study concluded that the EPWP for SAW is successful in skills development.