Developing critical skills in the water

and related sectors 

What is

The Water GEP Pilot

In January, the Water Research Commission (WRC), launched a national pilot project targeted at providing 400 unemployed graduates with work exposure and skills development opportunities for a period of four (4) months.

The Water Graduate Employment Programme (Water GEP) has been met with great enthusiasm from graduates and host companies / institutions. Over 1 600 graduates – particularly those with science, environmental and engineering backgrounds – applied to be a part of the programme demonstrating the need on the ground.

Host institutions from academia, private companies, government departments and non- governmental organisations have showed their commitment to the Water GEP through agreeing to absorb graduates.

Graduates receive not only on-the-job training but attend workshops that prepare them for the world of work.

Since the programme start, over 400 graduates have been placed in a variety of organisations nationally – contributing to important research initiatives, participating in the environmental management of our national parks, or educating other learners about STEM careers. Not only have graduates received on-the-job training support but many have attended workshops to prepare them for the world of work.

The Water GEP will come to an end in July 2021. If successful, this programme will continue into the future.

Graduate Testimonials

Who is involved?

The Water Research Commission

The Water Research Commission (WRC) was established in terms of the Water Research Act (Act No. 34 of 1971) following a period of serious water shortage. The WRC serves as South Africa’s largest funder of water and sanitation-related research. The WRC is the research and development partner of the sector leader, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), and provides the sector with knowledge and capacity to ensure sustainable management of water resources and enhance water services. Research is funded through water research levies as well as from research partners, international donors and foundations.

Read more

The Implementing Agent
(Working Solutions International)

Working Solutions International (WSI) has been contracted to project manage the pilot (and current) phase of the Water GEP. WSI is a South African based management consultancy company founded in 1999. The SMME offers a range of education, training and skills development services mainly to the public sector. WSI has over 20 years of experience in delivering skills programmes and learnerships as well as placing students in companies where there is a fit.

Science Graduate

The Graduate

The graduate typically holds a science or engineering degree or diploma. This can range from Bachelor’s in Science with specialisations in Information Technology, Engineering, Geology or Environmental Management. Or Diploma’s in Nature Conservation or Engineering Technology.

Undergraduates, honours, masters and PHD graduates can apply – but will only be accepted if unemployed and not studying at the time.


The Host Institution

Host institutions are from academia, private companies, government departments and non- governmental organisations. They can range in size – from large corporates through to Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs).  Local, provincial and national government are also important participants as key stakeholders in the water and sanitation sectors.

How it works

Frequently Asked Questions

The Water Research Commission (WRC) from time to time issues calls for graduates to apply for the Water Graduate Employment Programme (Water GEP). Universities, TVET Colleges, SMMEs and Industry, Water Service institutions and government departments within the sector are also encouraged to host graduates on this programme. 

Visit the WRC and Water GEP website at to see progress on the programme and when the next intake will be.  

Graduates will be placed with mentors and/or host institutions for a maximum of 4 months, e.g. Feb – May 2021; March – June 2021; etc. This pilot is currently running.  Further programmes will be announced as and when they arise.

A monthly stipend of R3 500 is paid. This stipend is dependent on mentors and their graduates submitting a joint monthly report and plan by the 25th of each month. Once the Workplace Plan and Report has been signed off, the stipend payment will be processed and paid by the last day of the month.

No. However, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) requires that you submit a tax number for processing of the stipend payment. From April 1 2021 each learner
is required to pay towards the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)

Graduates are required to submit an application together with:

  • A certified copy of their ID and qualifications.
  • A CV.
  • An affidavit stating that you are unemployed and not registered as a student. (This needs to be certified and stamped at your local police station).
  • A Reference letter (for example, from a former employer, lecturer, church leader etc.)

Graduates must submit three key sets of documents:

  • Your bank details (certified by your bank) and a tax number. If you do not have a tax number we will apply for one on your behalf.
  • A signed Acknowledgement letter that states that you accept the Code of Conduct and Policies and Procedures as outlined in the Induction Manual.
  • A Workplace Agreement signed between the host/mentor and the graduate that commits you to the programme and outlines stakeholder roles and responsibilities.

A Workplace Plan and Report must be submitted by the 25th of each month in order to be paid the stipend on the last day of the month.  The host/mentor and the graduate must sign off the Workplace Plan and Report.

All queries regarding contracts, payments, and placements should be directed to Working Solutions International (WSI) who are managing the programme on behalf of the WRC. 

Contact: Una Seery ([email protected]) or Lindelwa Ximiya ([email protected]).

No. The process for matching and placement of graduates and hosts/mentors is done through WSI. WSI selects and places graduates based on host availability, the qualifications the host requires and where graduates live. WSI will inform you of when and where you will be placed once the matching process is complete.

The type of work graduates will be exposed to will depend on the needs of the host/mentor that they are matched with, as well as the qualifications and interests of the graduates. The host/mentor and the graduate will discuss the type of work that will be done, e.g. field work, lab-based or computer-based research, data analysis, report writing, etc. Some graduates may be expected to work on-site or in-office, whereas others may be allowed to work remotely from home.

The normal work week runs from Monday to Friday, and will comprise up to a maximum of 40 hours per week, with start and end times to be in accordance with the work schedule of the host/mentor, e.g. 8am – 4pm, 9am – 5pm, etc. Deviations or alterations to the work schedule are possible but must be discussed and agreed upon between the host/mentor and the graduate.

There is no annual or study leave. This is a 4-month programme for unemployed graduates who are not registered as students. Sick leave and family responsibility leave is allowed.  Both will require the graduate to provide proof, for example, a medical certificate for sick leave and death certificate for family responsibility leave.

Yes. Any graduate engaging in the Water GEP will be given the necessary tools/equipment to perform their tasks, through their host/mentor and/or WSI. All graduates will be provided with a set amount of data per month, i.e. 30 GB, from an approved service provider. Any queries regarding on-site and/or in-office equipment should be directed to the host/mentor, and other equipment/data package queries should be directed to WSI: Una Seery ([email protected]).

Graduates and hosts/mentors will have regular discussion around work and progress, using the agreed-upon workplan as the main basis for informal, monthly evaluation

Training sessions will be conducted through an online platform, organised by WSI.  These monthly training sessions will focus on preparing the graduate to be workplace ready.  Modules will focus on:  Communication and presentation; Networking (on and off-line) and report writing; CV preparation and job interview skills; and, Finances and budgeting. Graduates will be contacted by WSI regarding the details of these training sessions, including topic, date, time and a link to join the session. 

No. The Water GEP is meant to offer graduates exposure and work experience in the water and sanitation sector, as well as other linked sectors. There should be no expectation of employment after the 4-month period has ended.

Graduates are encouraged to report all serious cases of misconduct. Misconduct can be reported either to the host/mentor, or, where there is a conflict of interest, to WSI: Una Seery ([email protected]).

In the event of a graduate needing to drop out of the programme, the graduate should first discuss the matter with their host/mentor, and then contact WSI to inform them, so that they can handle matters concerning contract cancellation

Yes. Certificates will be issued to graduates who have successfully completed the Water GEP. 

Institutional hosts and mentors orientate the graduate on company and project background and contexts, jointly develop work schedules and monitor and evaluate the performance and work exposure of graduates. This will be done once the host/mentor accepts and orientates the graduate.