Home affairs absorbs thousands of youths in recruitment drive

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 02 Apr 2024
Home affairs minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. (Photograph by GCIS)
Home affairs minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. (Photograph by GCIS)

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has employed 3 692 young people as part of the employment drive for 10 000 graduates to digitise its records.

This is according to home affairs minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, responding to a question from Democratic Alliance MP Adrian Roos.

Compounded by a weakening economy, South Africa’s unemployment has continued to rise, with the official unemployment rate at 32.1% in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023. Youth aged 15-34 years remain vulnerable in the labour market, as the total number of unemployed youths increased to 44.3% in Q4 of 2023.

To absorb some of the unemployed youth, the home affairs department kicked-off its much-talked about digitisation project last year, following a phased employment process.

Replying to the Parliamentary question on the total number of youths working on the project, the minister said the first phase recruited 1 405 graduates out of a total of 2 000.

This number has been decreasing due to youth finding better opportunities elsewhere, he revealed. “As of 31 January 2024, a total of 1 142 youths were still in the employ of the department and have been posted at various locations, in all provinces.

“The advert for the [second] cohort closed on 3 March 2023 and yielded 2 951 qualifying candidates out of the 439 000 applications received. In December 2023, the department issued 2 550 appointment letters to qualifying applicants.

“This brings the total number of young graduates employed for the digitisation project close to 3 700. The third and last cohort of youth will be recruited in the 2024/25 financial year.”

Home affairs is looking to bid farewell to paper-based civic records by digitising 340 million paper records.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the project during the State of the Nation Address in February 2022, saying it will serve as an employment vehicle for young graduates.

The records being digitised relate to birth, marriages, deaths and amendments, which the DHA says date back to 1895 and necessitate care and reliable systems. They are located across all nine provinces, with the bulk in Gauteng, North West and the Western Cape.

Through the project, the DHA looks to convert the paper-based records into an electronically searchable format for easier handling and storage by the 2025/26 financial year.

The project’s secondary objective – enhancement of youth employability – aims to recruit a total of 10 000 unemployed graduates that have completed studies in IT, record and document management.

Over the course of the project’s three-year period, the department notes youths will receive continuous learning and development interventions to improve their skills and equip them for future employment and/or entrepreneurial opportunities.

It was previously revealed that successful youths will be paid a stipend, ranging from R5 000 for entry-level positions, to R9 500 for technical support positions and R14 250 for manager-level positions.

According to the department, it is utilising five buildings in which to digitise the 340 million records.

As of 29 February 2024, the DHA had digitised 31.4 million images, which translate to 714 016 records. “Records consist of paper records and microfilms,” it states.