Deputy Director-General: Professional Services – A Vision for Reshaping STEM Learning and Enhancing Skilled Services

By Raine St.Claire

With over 23 years of dedicated service in the public sector, Carmen-Joy Abrahams has been appointed as Deputy Director-General (DDG): Professional Services. Effective from November 2023, she brings a wealth of 19 years of senior management experience within the public service and diverse expertise gained across various portfolios.

Accomplished, Dedicated and EPWP Policy Phase V Champion

In her previous role as Deputy Director-General for the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) from November 2021 to November 2023, she played a pivotal role in coordinating the South African government’s largest Public Employment Programme (PEP). This involved collaboration with global organisations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), organised business, organised labour, and organised community.

Under her leadership, the EPWP created around 950 000 work opportunities per annum, amounting to an annual expenditure of R25-billion. In addition, she oversaw human resource management, talent development, operations, and financial stewardship for 230 employees, managing a unit budget of R3-billion. Her responsibilities extended to providing support to stakeholders at national and provincial levels, municipalities, Non-Profit Organisations, and collaborating with various countries on advancing PEPs within Africa and globally.

During her tenure as Deputy Director-General: EPWP, Carmen-Joy successfully developed and consulted on the EPWP Policy, championed the development of EPWP Phase V (2024/25 – 2029/30), and ensured the programme consistently achieved 99% of the work opportunity target per annum. A qualified economist with a Master of Arts Degree in International Economics, Finance, and Business from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, USA.

She received the Nelson Mandela Economic Scholarship, enabling her to study in the United States and work in Washington DC on economic solutions. Her training includes sessions at the London School of Economics and the Colorado Institute for Economics, and she represented South Africa in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Additionally, she served as a board member for the National Development Agency (NDA).

With vast experience in trade economics, anti-money laundering, counter-terrorism financing, deposit insurance, exchange control, Public Employment Programmes, entrepreneurship, and small business development, Carmen-Joy is now dedicated to ensuring transformation and professionalisation within the Built Environment remains a strategic focus for the DPWI and the sector as a whole.

Building on Success

During her time as Deputy Director-General of the EPWP Branch in DPWI, the EPWP created over one million work opportunities in the past financial year alone, positively impacting the youth, impoverished, and unemployed individuals. Recognising the alarming unemployment rate, especially among the youth, she advocates for the expansion of EPWP sub-programmes like the National Youth Service (NYS) by encouraging innovation and fostering dialogues to share best practices in youth initiatives. In her new capacity as Deputy Director-General: Professional Services, Carmen-Joy is committed to addressing challenges within the education system, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). 

Drawing on her EPWP experience, she intends to enhance existing programmes, providing support to secondary schools in Mathematics and Science, granting bursaries to underprivileged students for studies in various fields, and expanding Candidacy and Artisan Development Programmes. She underscores the importance of prioritising system development and enhancement, implementing effective monitoring and evaluation frameworks, establishing sound institutional arrangements, fostering an empowered and capable staff, and forging partnerships within the government and the private sector. Carmen-Joy also pledges to strengthen collaboration with relevant institutions, organisations, and associations at both national and international levels.

Source: Department of Public Works and Infrastructure | Vuk’uzenzele

Read The Latest Edition Here: