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Correctional Services Dept empowers inmates

About 9,500 inmates have been trained as artisans over the past two years at a cost of R50 million.

FILE: The Department of Correctional Services has trained 9,500 inmates in plumbing, welding, building, carpentry and electrical engineering in the past two years. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Correctional Services says close to 9,500 inmates have been trained as artisans over the past two years at a cost of R50 million to the state.

The inmates are at correctional centres across the country and have received training in plumbing, welding, building, carpentry and electrical engineering among other skills.

In a statement released on Sunday the Minister of Correctional Services Sibusiso Ndebele says their training has become an essential part of their rehabilitation and eventual re-integration into society.

The minister's spokesman Logan Maistry says, "1,515 inmates per day work in the department of correctional services' production workshops and qualified artisans transferred skills to offenders.

"Also 3,110 offenders were involved in agricultural activities every day."

Unemployment remains a hotly debated issue in South Africa.

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) placed the official unemployment rate at 24.7 percent in the third quarter of 2013.

In the final quarter of the same year the Adcorp employment index revealed the informal sector created more jobs than the formal sector.

The Adcorp index also showed that 359,000 highly skilled South Africans have returned from foreign work since the global recession in 2008.

Even with this major boost in the fight against unemployment and a lack of skills, it seems the figure is only a fraction of the number of people still without jobs.

With the general elections just around the corner, job creation has formed part of some political party's campaigns.

The main opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has promised to create six million jobs if it wins the 7 May polls.

Employment has also formed part of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Agang SA's election policies.

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