A good or bad PaTH for youth employment?

3 May 2016

The Turnbull Coalition government’s inaugural budget sees an increase in funding towards youth employment and training, with the introduction of two new schemes designed to provide jobs to unemployed youth.

In his budget day press conference, Treasurer Scott Morrison referred to his personal history as Minister of Social Services as an influence to create better job opportunities for young people. “The best form of welfare is a job,” argued the Treasurer.

It’s set to continue a potentially big debate about youth unemployment and the best way to address it.

Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare-Trial-Hire)

With a subtle move away from the unpopular Work for The Dole scheme, the new Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare-Trial-Hire) initiative will be introduced in 2017. With $751.7 million over four years being allocated to the establishment of the initiative, the Youth Jobs PaTH will provide voluntary internships of up to twelve weeks in a bid to create workplace experience for unemployed youths.

The subsided initiative will provide employers with a payout of up to $10,000 for hiring youth who have been classified as “less job ready” and who are part of the Youth Jobs PaTH scheme. It will pay businesses that take on interns under its new internship scheme a $1000 payout.

The scheme has been introduced in response to employer feedback gathered since the previous budget which highlights inexperience as a key reason to not hire young people.

“Pre-employment training, real-work experience and wage subsidies have been proven to help young people get a job and stay in a job” said Senator Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment in her press release.

Youth Employment Package

$840 million over four years will be allocated as part of the Youth Employment package. The Package is expected to reach 120,000 jobseekers under the age of thirty in this time. “The new Youth Employment Package builds on initiatives introduced by the Government last year to help support youth employment” explained Senator Cash.

Shift away from the Work For The Dole Scheme

The new initiatives have been claimed in the press release from the Treasurer and the Employment Minister to have been built upon the foundational initiatives introduced by Joe Hockey’s 2015 budget. These include the Work for The Dole Scheme, which was implemented nationally in January 2015.

The legacy of the Hockey Budget’s employment stance on the scheme saw unemployed Australians under 30 years old working in allocated workplaces for up to 25 hours a week in order to receive the government’s unemployment benefits. The 2016 budget does not reflect specifically on the successes or failures of the previous budgets’ claims on the Work for The Dole Scheme. The Ministers argued the scheme would provide incentive and opportunity to those targeted.

How Work for The Dole and Youth Jobs PaTH Seem Different

Youth Jobs PaTH is a move away from the approaches of the previous employment scheme brought in by the Abbott government in 2015. Youth Jobs PaTH provides additional and relevant training to young people.

It marks the shift away from the Work for The Dole Scheme approaches, with some funding to be allocated to the Youth Jobs PaTH. In fact, young people who take on the Youth Job PaTH will receive an additional income on top of continuing to receive their previous unemployment benefits. It’s a significant move away from the compulsory work assigned to the unemployed by the previous budget.

BUT is it actually different?

The new scheme seems to follow the Work For The Dole Scheme employment program conceptually. However, it is reflective of the research, statistics and feedback of the previous schemes in many ways. The previous statistics from the Work for The Dole Scheme have been carried through to provide the rationale behind the continued implementation of government enforced employment, or voluntary internships as it is called in this 2016 Budget.

The Work For The Dole scheme had some interesting statistics. 380,000 placements including 38,000 Indigenous placements have been undertaken since 2015. 68% of placements were sustained for up to four weeks, though this number declines rapidly after the four week period.

45% of job seekers were employed within 3 months following participation in employment services and 40% reported a reduced reliance in income support within 6 months of participation in jobactive.

The government will continue to follow these statistical pathways mapped out by the Work For The Dole Scheme. It is forecasted that the Youth Jobs PaTH will aim to continue to reach the same results yearly as its predecessor.

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