The Department of Labour’s (DoL) Public Employment Services (PES) branch has referred or placed 96 000 job seekers in job opportunities in the period ending 31 March 2012.

This is according to Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, addressing the Department of Labour’s Annual Evaluation workshop of the 2011/12 Financial Year. She adds that this achievement was just the beginning of a process that would require a collective effort to be sustained.

Oliphant says the department’s successful hosting of a Job Summit and Job Fair in East London and Richards Bay, although a success, was also a ‘bitter pill to swallow’, as its hosting brought into the fore the issue of joblessness.

“The long queue of young people to register for job opportunities at the Job Fair last week was a demonstration of the monumental challenge of unemployment.

“We need to do more and we should do better than we are currently. The president has asked us to use might of state. Ours now, is how do we ramp-up job creation opportunities and get supporting institutions to place them in opportunities.”

Oliphant adds: “We want to get South Africa to work, while also making sure Public Employment Services (PES) branch of the department respond to job creation.”

The DoL’s Annual Workshop attended by the department’s top brass and members of Select Committee on Public Enterprises and the Portfolio Committee on Labour provides an opportunity to review work and provide for feedback on how to deal with challenges that lie ahead.

Last week’s DoL’s Job Fair in Richards Bay was attended by 11 800 job seekers.

In the light of job creation being an area of focus the minister committed the department to an objective of reducing the vacancy rate. In September 2011 the vacancy rate stood at 7,89 % and went down in March 2012 to 7,28 % and this has been reduced to 6,92 % in June 2012.

“We can never be proud of these stats in the light of brewing unemployment,” the department’s Corporate Services said.