Govt Youth Jobs Path Offers Opportunity – NFP
9 May 2016 at 8:06 am
Not for Profit peak body Jobs Australia has welcomed key changes to the employment services announced in the federal budget, including the move away from mandatory Work for the Dole in favour of voluntary participation in a program set in the everyday work environment.
However, Jobs Australia said: “Importantly, only the pre-employment training in the first stage of the Youth Jobs PaTH program would be mandatory, and internships in stage two would be voluntary for both the job seeker and the employer.”
Jobs Australia CEO David Thompson said the new Youth Jobs PaTH program provided job seekers under 25 years of age the opportunity to undertake pre-employment training that has been explicitly designed to meet employer needs, and internships consisting of 15 to 25 hours of work for up to 12 weeks.
“Given the risk of exploitation inherent in this program, it’s essential that any participant who feels uncomfortable with their placement can freely walk away, even if an internship is part of their Job Plan,” Thompson said.
“Under current Work for the Dole arrangements, job seekers are penalised for non-participation and can be left without any income support whatsoever.”
Thompson said that further safeguards and close monitoring would be required to ensure that employers did not misuse the program.
“Jobs Australia has been assured by department of employment officials that further safeguards will be included in the program guidelines, and that organisations like ours will be consulted,” Thompson said.
He said Jobs Australia would push for the program to include additional safeguards such as:
- a ban on businesses accessing the program if they have recently downsized or laid-off staff
- close monitoring of job outcome data and discontinuing access if internships are not converting into real job opportunities
- compulsory work health and safety assessments for each placement
- random checks to ensure compliance with all program requirements.
He said Jobs Australia would propose that internships should be combined with formal training, and that participant hours should be capped to ensure that job seekers received at least the trainee wage.
“If people are doing real work in real jobs, then it’s only fair that they receive a payment that is equivalent to a real wage, regardless of whether that payment comes from the employer or comes from Centrelink,” he said.
On Friday, Jobs Minister Senator Michaelia Cash confirmed that the first stage of the new youth employment plan would be compulsory.
“The first stage (Prepare) of the PaTH, which consists of employability skills training… will be compulsory once a job seeker in jobactive aged 15 to 24 years has been in employment services for five months, unless extenuating circumstances exist. This was clearly set out in the budget papers,” Senator Cash said.
“The employability skills training will ensure that job seekers are well-prepared to take advantage of the second and third stages of the PaTH, for which they become eligible after six months in employment services.”