The Active Participation Model (APM), implemented on 1 July 2003 as part of the third Employment Services Contract (ESC3), was the most significant change to Job Network since its inception in 1998. The report presents an analysis of the operation of Job Network in the first three years of the APM (i.e. during ESC3 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2006). Where it is appropriate and possible, comparisons are presented with the performance of Job Network in the second Employment Services Contract (ESC2).
The primary objectives of the APM are to:
- increase the effectiveness of employment services in securing employment and other positive outcomes for job seekers; and
- ensure that job seekers who remain unemployed are engaged in ongoing employment-focused activity and job search.
Key evaluation findings
The evaluation did not attempt to measure the performance of all aspects of Job Network. Rather, it focussed on the main changes to the employment services introduced with the APM and assessed the model against its objectives. The analysis was based on a broad range of partial measures. While at the aggregate level, the proportion of job seekers who exited from Job Network assistance was found to be lower for ESC3 than for ESC2, a detailed analysis found that:
- net employment impacts of Intensive Support job search training and Intensive Support customised assistance increased compared with the corresponding programmes delivered during ESC2
- commencement rates for Intensive Support job search training and customised assistance also improved. This was particularly evident for job seekers not subject to the activity test
- a comparative analysis of exit rates from both Job Network (i.e. employment assistance no longer required) and income support for Fully Job Network Eligible job seekers confirmed Job Network’s stronger performance during ESC3 relative to ESC2
- the costs per employment outcome continued to decline during ESC3 despite increasing numbers in assistance and increasing costs of assistance
- outcomes under the APM were more likely to be sustained.
The introduction of the APM was also found to have increased the level of engagement between job seekers and Job Network. Under ESC3 job seekers commenced assistance sooner and undertook more active job search. This higher level of engagement seemed to be maintained throughout a job seeker’s spell of unemployment and is likely to have contributed to improved employment outcomes.
In the main, improved performance can be largely attributed to the changes to Job Network introduced under the APM, including:
- expansion of employment exchange services which contributed to an increase in job placements.
- the implementation of new processes for connecting (and reconnecting) job seekers with employment service providers, combined with a single provider and continuum of assistance. These changes reduced the time that job seekers wait before receiving assistance and appear to have helped raise and maintain job seekers’ levels of engagement.
- the introduction of the Job Seeker Account, which facilitated the delivery of significant levels of assistance to disadvantaged job seekers serviced by Job Network.
- the reduction in the length of the intensive phase of assistance which may have reduced the attachment effect (ie, a reduction in job search as a result of participating in a labour market programme) of this type of intervention and extent to which job seekers were being “parked” (i.e. received a minimal level of service from their Job Network provider). The intensive phase of assistance prior to the introduction of the APM could last for over 12 months and in this time the level of service to job seekers and the extent to which they undertook pro-active job search dwindled. This lowered the effectiveness of this type of assistance.
Areas where refinements to the employment services could be made include:
- providing job seekers in the early days of their unemployment spell with more detailed advice on the best ways to look for work
- encouraging job seekers without significant barriers to employment to make greater use of private employment agencies
- developing more effective approaches towards:
- assisting disadvantaged young job seekers. Intensive Support customised assistance was found to have a very small impact on the employment prospects of job seekers under 25 years of age;
- engaging job seekers who persistently fail to attend interviews. Many of these job seekers repeatedly provide reasons accepted as valid for not attending appointments with their employment service providers;
- increasing participation among job seekers not subject to the activity test. Commencement rates by these job seekers improved after the introduction of the APM yet remained well below those of activity tested job seekers
- the use of Complementary programmes by raising awareness in Job Network of the availability of these programmes
- raising the quality of data collected on job seeker skills and characteristics and vacancies. This could be used to improve auto-matching if auto-matching is to continue.
For more detailed information on these findings please refer to the full report at the top of this page.