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Work for the dole is broken

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Employer groups have criticised the “work for the dole” program and are calling for the program’s $115 million budget to be better spent on training job seekers with marketable skills.

A Federal Government inquiry has heard that the work for the dole program needs to be substantially overhauled because it doesn’t equip participants with appropriate skills to gain employment.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in its submission to the Providers of Government Employment services review, says work for the dole is:

  • Insufficiently focused on the needs of employers.
  • Is failing to provide adequate training in marketable job skills to participants.
  • Has ignored industry needs for more part-time and casual employees.

“ACCI supports employment services that enable jobseekers to be competitive in the employment market. They will only have marketable skills if the needs of employers are a central part of the job placement and training systems,” the submission said.

ACCI also identified the poor relationship between the Job Network service and industry as a key reason for poor outcomes from the system. Research indicates that 60% of participants are still unemployed three months after completing a Job Network program.

“Some Job Network providers do not have sufficient industry knowledge, so opportunities for real employment outcomes are lost,” it says.

In particular, ACCI complained that paying bonuses to Job Network providers for placing participants in full-time employment meant that industry needs for part-time and casual employees were not being met by the current system.

Other employer organisations, including the Victorian Employer Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the National Employment Services Association and Jobfind Centres Australia, have also made submissions identifying shortcomings in the work for the dole scheme and repeating ACCI’s call for it to be substantially overhauled.

Work for the dole was a key aspect of the Howard government’s mutual obligation approach to financial assistance for jobseekers, whereby recipients were expected to undertake job skills training in return for government financial assistance.

Currently, the Federal Government spends $2 billion each year on programs for jobseekers.

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