Welfare Sector Calls for Youth Employment Strategy
11 September 2014 at 10:15 am
The Australian Council of Social Service has called on the Federal Government to bring together key experts to develop a comprehensive Youth Employment Strategy in an effort to boost Australia’s lagging youth employment levels.
The welfare sector peak body said the Federal Government’s training and youth employment packages announced yesterday would provide only a fraction of what was needed to improve the nation’s apprenticeship training system and raise the job prospects of young people at a time of growing unemployment.
“This latest announcement is a drop in the ocean of what’s needed if we’re going to make a difference in giving young people a start in their working life,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
“Essentially we’re talking about around 10,000 training places for young people, not all of whom are necessarily on benefits, compared with over 100,000 who will be losing income support, if the Government’s proposed changes to payments proceed.
“This falls well short of the 74,000 assisted each year under the successful Youth Connections program which the Federal Government has defunded.
“The advantage of the discontinued Youth Connections program was that it allowed agencies to work with young people at risk of dropping out of school not only those who have left already. It was a prevention approach which is critical, and had been proven successful on all the evidence.”
Yesterday the Abbott Government announced that it will invest $200 million each year to establish a new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network in a bid to lift apprenticeship completion rates.
It also announced that it would invest $38 million to deliver the Training for Employment Scholarship programme to assist employers in regional areas where youth unemployment is high to provide job specific training for new employees.
But Dr Goldie said the Government’s new youth pathways is more limited and is restricted to regional areas while youth unemployment was also a major problem in many major cities.
"One key focus should be in the transition from school to paid work and this important element is glaringly missing from this package,” she said.
“ACOSS has proposed with the Business Council of Australia and the ACTU a partnership approach that will more effectively link employment services for disadvantaged job seekers with employer needs, where funding is redirected to more targeted training and job seekers are supported once they gain employment.
“It is a hard ask for employers to have the necessary connections with training providers, community organisations and young people to be able to make best use of the funding to truly tackle youth unemployment.
“The model put forward by the BCA, ACTU and ACOSS builds lasting relationships between job service providers and employers, offering them the support of employment brokers and regional employment boards."
ACOSS had three specific recommendations for the Government:
- The establishment of employment brokers to create partnerships between employers and employment services to better match jobseekers with labour demand.
- The establishment of regional employment boards in areas of high unemployment to promote the partnerships approach among industry, unions, employment services and training providers
- Redirecting training resources from the existing Employment Pathway Fund to focus more on disadvantaged jobseekers, and to fund work experience and training as part of the partnerships approach.