Government jobs are still fairly sought after as the prospect of secure employment and additional benefits and perks outweigh the lower salaries paid by the state. However, securing a government job in South Africa is not as easy as finding employment in the private sector – affirmative action, employment equity and claims of nepotism and ‘jobs for friends’ makes it a difficult for a job seeker to get into a government department.
Government Job Benefits
There is a difference between working for a municipality and working for the state (government jobs). Government employees get extensive medical cover on GEMS medical aid at reduced rates as the state subsidises the premiums. In addition, government employees also get a housing subsidy and salary brackets depend on the number of years you have served with the state. These benefits are significantly different from the private sector and even though the ‘take home’ salary may be a little lower, at the end of the day when all the benefits are considered, government employees do earn well.
Employment in the Government
Getting into a government department is not an easy task. While every department has to advertise job openings in the local media, there are usually thousands of prospective candidates for any opening. There is no denying that the selection process in government departments are not as stringent as the private sector. However, unions have been playing their part in ensuring that unqualified applicants are not given preferential treatment because they are personally linked to seniors in the relevant department.
Labour Brokers and Employment Agencies for Government Jobs
Many municipal departments use labour brokers and employment agencies despite their denial in the media. Municipalities are carefully monitored, both by the local government and residents, and need to ensure that the right people are found for the job. It is best to find the agencies that deal with the government and municipalities and sign up with them if you want to secure a job in government. These agencies are given a tender to find suitable candidates and you may find that they only deal with government work and not the usual private sector jobs so finding them may be a bit more difficult.
Affirmative Action and Employment Equity
Non-white South Africans, particularly females, and persons with disabilities are given preference when it comes to government jobs. If you do not fall into any of these categories, then your only hope may be to deal with a company handling government tenders. Government departments outsource a lot of work and many of these companies are prepared to hire some employees who do not meet with AA and EE criteria.
Many government jobs are initially contract work or temporary jobs but it is the first step of getting into a government department. Efficient workers are usually kept on and given the skills shortage within government, any experience within a state department, even temporary work, can play in your favour for future job openings.