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Govt’s paper-based job application process slammed

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A group of unemployed young South Africans is running an online protest against government’s traditional paper-based job application process.

They say the old system is a costly and unnecessary exercise, in a country that promotes the so-called digital economy.

Almost 6 000 young people have signed an online petition on Change.org, calling on government to digitise its public service job application processes by offering various online options, such as e-mail or online job portals, to apply for vacancies.

South Africans are required to complete and submit a Z83 form, together with certified qualification documents, when applying for government posts.

According to the protestors, while public sector vacancies are advertised online, government still requires most applications to be manually sent via the post office – a process they say is inconvenient and “stuck in the past”.

Furthermore, the South African Post Office is entrusted with an obligation to provide services nationwide; however, it is not capable of efficiently delivering mail timeously, resulting in their applications missing the deadline, they say.

“May all government departments use e-mail services for vacancies available. It is time-consuming and the financial implications are much higher when you use post office services to find employment. Let us utilise the science and technology we have to also be part of the fourth industrial revolution,” says Gaopaleloe Bhekani Mooketsi, who started the petition.

“When you have scanned copies of documents, you are able to use them for a period of six consecutive months without having to constantly make copies and certify them. This will enable unemployed youth like myself to focus on hustling money for data instead of having to make print-outs/photocopies every time they are to apply for a position in a government department.”

In 2018, the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) introduced a web-based solution to its recruitment processes.

Dubbed e-Job, the DPSA's recruitment website was meant to ensure applicants are able to fill out a digital Z83 form, as well as upload all relevant employment documentation online. However, the site is currently unavailable.

"The e-recruitment system is the beginning of a process to introduce a paperless administration across the public service,” said Ayanda Dlodlo, who was DPSA minister at the time.

Last year, current DPSA minister Thulas Nxesi launched an Employment Centre in KwaZulu-Natal.

The initiative entails a nationwide online system, Employment Services South Africa (ESSA), to connect job-seekers with employers looking for skills. Job-seekers are required to register online and outline their professional background and qualifications.

However, according to the petition, the system is inefficient.

“The ESSA should be upgraded and updated, and be intergraded/merged with the e-services government portal. This will enable unemployed youth like myself to easily apply online.”

Stats SA’s latest Labour Force Survey paints a grim picture of a 65.5% youth unemployment rate in the country.

SA’s unemployment rate is now the highest in the world, according to analysts, with 7.9 million jobless people.

For years, the internet has been a valuable tool in the job market, globally and locally, with online recruitment becoming mainstream across industries.

A comment from someone who signed the petition reads: “E-mails will make the job applications easy and safely sent. We will all have opportunity to submit rather than having to travel to submit an application.”

Another says: “I’m signing this because I want efficiency and to save our brothers and sisters money of printing and catching taxis unnecessarily. It’s all about efficiency and transparency.”

Responding to ITWeb via e-mail, Nyiko Mabunda, DPSA acting deputy-director general for human resource management and development, says government provides various methods for applicants to submit job applications.

“These methods include electronic platforms, post and through e-mails. DPSA has previously encouraged departments to use e-mail facilities for response handling.

“The process and practice of recruitment is always evolving through review, keeping citizenry at the centre and within the auspices of the legal framework. The DPSA has issued Circular 19 of 2022 to curb costs for applicants as part of the recruitment process. In line with this circular, DPSA supports initiatives to digitise recruitment processes,” states Mabunda.

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