A total of 75 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) beneficiaries received certificates of recognition for the successful completion of work on various EPWP projects at the Overstrand Municipality for the past year.
The certificate ceremony took place at the Municipal Auditorium in Hermanus on Friday 2 August. The participants range from 18 and older and come from all over the Overstrand.
“The EPWP is intended to alleviate poverty by providing temporary workers with a step-up through access to opportunities to earn money. During this time, beneficiaries also receive skills training and on-the-job experience to put them into a better position to become employed full-time,” said Coenie Groenewald the Municipal Manager.
“The beneficiaries are aware that being part of the EPWP does not mean they are entitled to jobs. They had to apply when vacancies arose, and those who were shortlisted, had to go for interviews.”
As part of the 12-month programme, EPWP participants working in the Community Fire Protection Project are given training in Fire Fighter 1, Hazmat Awareness and First Aid level 3. This is according to Groenewald the minimum requirement to qualify to become a fire fighter.
Additional skills development includes Rope Rescue, Fire and Life Safety Educator to educate the public and Major Incident Medical Management System.
“With this qualification, beneficiaries can apply for jobs at any Fire Service or fire department at any municipality.
“The municipality also offers EPWP participants the opportunity to work shoulder to shoulder with permanent staff – a recent example being the major fires which raged in the Overstrand; including the unique peat fire which burned for six months in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley at Camphill School,” said Groenewald.
Beneficiaries are further integrated into various other aspects of the municipality’s daily operations. Some EPWP participants are employed to clean targeted neighbourhoods and streets while others are employed to do general maintenance of municipal infrastructure, cut grass in parks and municipal sports grounds. Some beneficiaries are employed to patrol to help ensure the safety of tourists and their belongings in certain areas, and assistants are employed to do basic administration work, etc.Awards
During the appreciation ceremony, special recognition was given to the Community Services Directorate for their contribution and efforts made to offer 756 opportunities as well as the Protection Services Directorate with the highest number of work opportunities converted into permanent employment (71 full-time employees).
The Directorate for Economic and Social Development & Tourism was very pleased to announce an additional Peer Support project that started on 1 August 2018. This category will assist persons with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities in the different communities through support, networking and advice services.
According to Chantelle Hill, co-ordinator of Overstrand’s EPWP, the programme is proof of what can be achieved through hard work, determination and willingness to take up opportunities that come along. This dedication could see them progressing to permanent positions one day.
“We have managed to secure permanent employment or future study opportunities for some of our EPWP beneficiaries over the past seven years since the Municipality started with the programme in 2011,” said Hill – a sentiment echoed by three of the beneficiaries who obtained full time employment.
Success stories include that of Bevan Hess who joined the EPWP programme in 2013 as an unskilled young adult. In December 2014 he was permanently appointed as a fire fighter, thanks to the opportunity afforded to him through the EPWP programme to work and to earn a living. His message to the participants was: “EPWP offered me an opportunity to get a foot in the door, which got me through the door. It is up to each one of us to open the door. I started by learning the ropes and gained on-the-job exposure. Now I’m a proud fire fighter, thoroughly enjoying my work and serving my community with honour!”
Law Enforcement Officer Elton Nkanunu was part of the EPWP in 2011 and became a full time employee in 2014. He remembered fondly how law enforcement officers chased him away from the old harbour promenade while singing his “Pavarotti” songs as a youngster. He stated: “I can’t thank the municipality enough for the opportunity afforded to me to improve my life and grow in the municipality. I am thankful.”
Quentin Pletscke said he lost everything and slept on sidewalks and beaches for over a year before he become part of the EPWP programme, working in the streets and storm water department. He also remembered how he was chased away and told “to go back where you come from”. He thanked Chantelle for her role in getting him and his wife off the streets. His message to the attentive audience was: “Never give up. Things happen to make you stronger. Have a willingness to work and do the job to the best of your ability every day.”
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