Jobs Australia Wants Employment Overhaul – Report
Thursday, 26th September 2013 at 3:32 pm
Peak Not for Profit jobs agency, Jobs Australia, has put forward what it describes as a radical overhaul of the employment services system to the new Federal Government.
According to the Jobs Australia report, A Blueprint for the Future released at the Jobs Australia National Conference, Australia’s current employment service system is not truly market based, is burdened by inappropriate regulation and system complexity and is hampered by misaligned incentives.
Jobs Australia CEO David Thompson said the new model would eliminate costly tender processes and foster a diverse market of generalist and specialist providers.
“The current system has become so constrained by red tape and complexity that providers have been forced to standardise their services,” Thompson said.
“They also are required to spend excessive amounts on contract compliance and regulation as opposed to better service delivery.
“The people at the back of the job queue, the ones who have been there the longest, need specialised, tailored assistance to get them back into work.
“These also happen to be the people who cost the government the most money – not only in welfare payments but across a range of government services.”
The key changes include: accreditation based licensing to replace expensive government tendering processes; greater use of specialist providers including industry specialists; more choice for job seekers and a greater say over the services they receive; and, a regulator to police providers independently of government.
The Blueprint draws on the original principles for the design of the Howard Government’s Job Network, which was penned by Senator Amanda Vanstone in 1996, to reinvigorate competition, cut red tape and free up resources that could be reinvested in the long-term unemployed.
Australia’s current system delivers unemployment-related assistance to about 1.6million Australians every year – delivered through Jobs Services Australia by more than 100 contracted provided at more than 2,000 sites across Australia, the report states.
This is funded through the large investment made by the Federal Government of about $1.3 billion per year.
The proposed new accreditation-based licensing structure would include changes to market segments; pricing; accountability and transparency; rules around choice; and information technology.
“Moreover, a licence-based system would replace contracting of providers and a fixed market share band, allowing for genuine competition between providers,” the report stated.
The proposed “modern system of employment services” would be “founded on more tailored services, that should allow people of all abilities to access services, including face-to-face assistance where required”.
It proposes the modern service design should include: an initial period of self-servicing for the job-ready; a separate program for early school leavers; better use of government-held data; an improved Job Seeker Classification Instrument; and, three service categories reflecting the cost of servicing the job seeker, and determining the level of service fees and outcome fees.
“If the investment in back-to-work programs is going to have any return for government, then these are the people who the services need to be focussed on,” Thompson said.
“With a more diverse provider market, job seekers and employers would be able to choose the provider that best meets their needs.
“We imagine that specialists might emerge to service particular types of job seeker, such as those with mental illness, or they might specialise in types of employer, such as the hospitality industry or retail sector.
“The approaches that work best will be the ones that thrive in a competitive market, and that means both job seekers and employers would be better served.”