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Budget 2016: Youth Package a ‘Positive Step’

4 May 2016 at 10:30 am
Ellie Cooper
Not for Profits have called the federal government’s new youth jobs program, announced in the budget, a “welcome alternative” to work for the dole.

Ellie Cooper | 4 May 2016 at 10:30 am


Budget 2016: Youth Package a ‘Positive Step’
4 May 2016 at 10:30 am

Not for Profits have called the federal government’s new youth jobs program, announced in the budget, a “welcome alternative” to work for the dole.

The government said it would invest $840 million in a youth employment package to help up to 120,000 young people over four years to secure jobs.

At the centerpiece of the package is the new Youth Jobs PaTH (prepare, trial, hire) program open to vulnerable job seekers under 25 years of age who are in employment services.

Mission Australia said the the package was preferable to work for the dole, which they said was ineffective at assisting young people who often need extra help to move from school to a job.

However, the organisation cautioned that the new program must provide additional assistance to address the special needs of young people who are highly disadvantaged, face multiple barriers to employment and need extra support to find and keep a job.

“We have called on the government to address the gap in the current youth employment programs, for the most vulnerable young people.There is a danger that this new program will also not provide the necessary tailored support,” Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans said.

“We look forward to working with the government on the detailed design of the new program, to ensure this vulnerable group doesn’t miss out.

“We have to invest in all of our young people to ensure the future prosperity of Australia, as well as to help them achieve their individual aspirations. They are our most precious assets.

“With a youth unemployment rate of over 12 per cent we should be ensuring young people have the skills and experience to take on the jobs of tomorrow.”

The Brotherhood of St Laurence also welcomed the youth employment package.

“It’s pleasing that policy makers are now recognising that the transition from school to work is much riskier than in previous decades. We know in the modern economy, employers need workers with skills and work experience that so many of our young people find harder to acquire,” executive director Tony Nicholson said.

“While the details are yet to come, the commitment to help 120,000 young people over four years by building employability skills, offering internships and making available wage subsidies to employers is a positive step.

“A new initiative to establish a fund to test approaches to assist highly disadvantaged groups move into work also holds promise if implemented wisely, but the design of programs will be critical.”

The government said the three-step PaTH program would first involve intensive pre-employment skills training, followed by an internship for four to 12 weeks with financial incentives for both job seekers and businesses.

In stage three, employers who hire an eligible young job seeker in an ongoing job will receive an accelerated wage subsidy of up to $10,000, paid over six months.

Labor MP Julie Collins, shadow minister for employment, welcomed the investment in young people but said it was “too little, too late” and expressed concern about the internship stage of the program.

“Anything that supports young people into jobs is welcome – but the fact the government is encouraging young people to ‘seek internships at supermarkets’ shows how out of touch it is,” Collins said.

“This is another case of putting business over battlers – providing no-cost labour to employers further eroding young people’s rights in the workplace, with no real training, and no real jobs at the end of it.”

Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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