The Capacity Building Programme for Employment Promotion (CBPEP) is a 62-month programme, funded by the European Union (EU), that assists the South African government in meeting the key national objective of reducing unemployment. We work with government departments to solve employment-related issues.
We focus on four key result areas:
Active labour market policy interventions for the poor

Supporting active labour market policy interventions for unemployed people, especially women and youth, with specific recommendations defined to improve work-seeker support, the transition from school to work, (public) occupational advisory services, and (public) job placement services.

SMMEs and the informal sector

Assessing the current situation of small business promotion and possible options for its development, and strengthening required capacity, with special reference to the informal sector and the “wage bargaining” process.

Further education and skills development

Defining a set of recommendations to promote further education and skills development (to increase people’s employability), and building relevant capacity, with special emphasis on financing and quality enhancement.

Implementation and visibility

Implementing programmes effectively and ensuring our visibility and communications activity is strategic and advocates for the work of CBPEP

our approach

In his 2021 State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa reflected on South Africa’s “staggering” unemployment rate of 30,8%. “Over the past year, South Africa has experienced a sharp decline in growth and a significant increase in unemployment,” he said. “Poverty is on the rise. Inequality is deepening.” 

President Ramaphosa has further stated that, “tackling youth unemployment requires accelerating economic growth, particularly in labour-intensive sectors, and building the capability of the State to fulfil its developmental role.”

CBPEP works with the Office of the Presidency and government departments in solving these employment-related issues. Our approach favours innovation and experimentation over traditional linear thinking. This allows us to be creative and adapt to meet the needs of our clients. We build capacity through training, through improving systems, through research and design thinking. We convene with a wide range of partners, breaking down institutional barriers to solve problems and deliver results.

Our methodology is rooted in design thinking and focuses on the process of finding solutions through empowering beneficiaries. It follows an iterative loop, where problems are defined, solutions are attempted and then further refined with each step. Success and failure are both part of the process, and monitoring and evaluation ensures agility, adaptability, and constant course correction. In this approach, agents of change are crucial, and engaging the target group – namely, unemployed youth – is key.

CBPEP takes a much broader approach to capacity building. We don’t look at it purely from a training perspective. We look at how we can build institutional capacity, by addressing some of the systemic issues that lack capability in various organisations. We’ve got a very broad way of addressing capacity and capability building in the state, but with a primary focus on trying to unlock employment promotion.

Kathy Nicolaou-Manias
Capacity Building Technical Advisor

CBPEP links us to the experience of some of the challenges that exist internationally around unemployment. It is useful for us to have a partner who brings new, fresh ideas into the bureaucracy. This allows us to think very differently.

Rudi Dicks, Head of the Project Management Office (PMO) in the Private Office of the President
CBPEP is not fixed on one methodology. It uses the methodology that is appropriate for a problem. It always has the end result in mind – that result being developing capacity in the institution, the person, etc.; keeping it in the country and building it for the service that has to be delivered.

Augustin Tshiani, Head of Economic Cooperation and Infrastructure in the Delegation of the EU to South Africa
You need to be prepared for change and for the unexpected in a world that doesn't move in a linear and predictable and logical fashion necessarily. So it's wired into our program thinking that we need to be responsive to new circumstances, new opportunities, and, of course, in the current case [Covid-19], to huge new challenges.

Glen Fisher, Team Leader for CBPEP


Supporting the Presidency

Solving the jobs crisis is one of the Presidency’s key focus areas. “The President has stated in numerous State of the Nation Addresses and elsewhere that employment and unemployment are fundamentally key to his agenda,” says Rudi Dicks, Head of the Presidency’s PMO. CBPEP plays a vital role in this regard.

We provide technical assistance in capacity building, both for the Presidential Employment Stimulus (PES) and for other interventions that aim to promote employment and sustainable job creation. Our position as a non-governmental agency means that while we have access to the Office of the Presidency, we are anchored within GTAC. This enables us to serve as a neutral outsider, providing advisory and technical consulting services to South African organs of state while contributing to public service research and capacity building.

Employment colloquia

Every year CBPEP brings together leading thinkers to debate the key challenges plaguing employment promotion and growth in South Africa. Our first annual event in March 2020, the Colloquium on Employment Growth in South Africa: Constraints and Opportunities, unpacked opportunities and challenges, and set the scene for the employment landscape. The 2021 event, 500 Days of Economic Policy Action: A Short-Term Policy Action Agenda for South Africa, was set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, and looked at immediate policy interventions which could be actioned within 500 days. The 2022 event will explore pathways to sustaining these actions, and will reflect on the work done to date.

2020 Colloquium
2021 Colloquium
Land reform

While land reform is a contentious issue in South Africa, CBPEP’s employment-intensive rural land reform project made a persuasive, evidence-based case that an appropriately designed and implemented programme of land reform and support for mostly African smallholder farmers could result in greater employment intensity in the agricultural sector, and more sustainable livelihoods for significant numbers of rural and peri-urban citizens. The study’s research in four local municipalities suggests that significant increases in employment through agriculture can be achieved if land is redistributed to small-scale farmers. In those four local municipalities alone, net job creation amounted to 23 691 jobs. Building on its on-the-ground, area-based, consultative approach, CBPEP facilitated a presentation to the PMO in the Presidency. This led to a “proof of concept” pilot project within the framework of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s Master Plan for Agriculture.

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supporting the informal sector

This project broke new ground in recognising the informal sector as an integral and legitimate component of the South African economy, and a key source of employment. The work, which aimed to create a supportive legislative environment for the informal sector, resulted in the Public Space Trading Guidelines for Local Government, 2021–2026, published under the imprimatur of the South African Local Government Association. It aimed to create a more supportive and enabling environment for public-space traders by mapping out an actionable, evidence-based set of proposals for policy and regulatory reform at the local government level. The project team gave considerable thought to the real-world implications and challenges of implementing its recommendations, and bolstered its report by outlining a practical short-, medium- and, longer-term implementation strategy.

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Presidential Employment Stimulus

The PES was developed in response to the severe economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated South Africa’s pre-existing crises of poverty and unemployment. It aims to create new jobs, support livelihoods and protect existing jobs in vulnerable sectors of the economy. This phased project provides technical assistance, through the appointment of non-key experts, to support the PMO in the Private Office of the President as it rolls out the Presidential Employment Stimulus. The PES is mapping a new policy trajectory in the core pillars of social employment, direct investment in jobs, and enabling private sector recovery and dynamism, with a particular focus on youth through the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention.

CBPEP’s work includes support to all of these dimensions, consolidating and focusing key elements from previous projects.

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Basic Package of Support for Youth

About 45% of South African youth who are Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) left school before they reached matric (Grade 12). The Basic Package of Support (BPS) for Youth is a client-centred project that aims to support youth who are NEET by providing a shared framework for action for a variety of institutions and providers, leveraging existing capacities and creating new partnerships towards a common goal. The BPS was created by a consortium of academic, governmental and non-governmental partners, and was founded on seven principles that combine peer-to-peer outreach, guidance counselling, and referral to services within a community of practice, and are supported by a case management system that ensures a continuum of support. It builds on policies, legislation, programmes, and interventions to provide the support and opportunities needed, enhancing the capability of key government and non-governmental role players to meet the needs of young people who are NEET in South Africa.

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Roles and relationships

CBPEP is hosted by the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC), funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by DT Global. CBPEP aligns with GTAC’s mission to provide advisory and technical consulting services to South African organs of state, and to contribute to public service research and capacity building. We select projects with the support of GTAC and the approval of the Programme Steering Committee.

We understand that unemployment will not be addressed by any single, simple response.

Because of our partnerships with government and thought leaders, and the support we receive from the EU, we are able to convene stakeholders in a way that would be difficult for an internal government agency to do. We play the role of a strategic intermediary, linking up the right actors to support institutions with their problem-solving.

GTAC is an agency of the National Treasury which promotes public sector capacity building. CBPEP is hosted by GTAC.

National Treasury is a department of the South African government which manages national economic policy and the government's finances. GTAC is an agency of the National Treasury.

CBPEP is funded by the European Union (EU) through the South African and European Union's Strategic Partnership. South Africa is one of ten countries in strategic partnership with the EU.

DT Global is an international development contractor, working across a wide range of sectors and technical areas in over 90 countries around the world.


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