The department recognises that collaboration and fostering positive relationships with internal and external stakeholders enables more effective delivery of our strategic priorities. During 2014–15 we worked with government at the Commonwealth, state, territory and local levels to share our knowledge and expertise and gain critical information and assistance.
We take an active approach with stakeholders to ensure that programmes in the Employment portfolio are effectively contributing to the achievement of government priorities across whole-of-government challenges such as deregulation, rural and Indigenous affairs, disability services and responses to major crisis events.
Working in partnership to meet industry demand
In the Northern Territory, the department worked in collaboration with the Department of Industry and Science, the Northern Territory Government, the Housing Industry Association and the provider STEPS Education and Training (STEPS) to address the skills shortage in Darwin’s building and construction industry. A tailored employment programme called Get Skilled was developed to upskill a group of job seekers for a range of jobs in the building and construction industry, including trade assistants, apprenticeships and other entry-level positions.
The department brought together the Housing Industry Association, STEPS and Job Services Australia providers in Darwin to facilitate the implementation of the programme and encourage suitable referrals. The programme was embraced by Job Services Australia providers, who referred job seekers from across Darwin.
The programme was based on a holistic approach and involved eight weeks of industry-related literacy and numeracy training under the STEPS Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) programme, to ensure that job seekers with low language, literacy and numeracy levels developed skills to further their education and employment opportunities. The programme also involved units of a Certificate II in Construction and a one-day-a-week industry job placement. Participants were provided with additional placement support through their Job Services Australia providers.
Sixteen of the 20 participants successfully completed the employment programme, as well as SEE. Of these, two secured full-time employment in construction, two gained apprenticeships and three continued with further training. The programme is a good example of the success that can be achieved through collaborative approaches.
Industry, employers and training organisations working in collaboration produce positive outcomes for disadvantaged job seekers.
Pre-employment training unlocks jobs for disadvantaged job seekers on the North West Rail Link
In New South Wales, the state network worked with the NSW Government, TAFE Western Sydney Institute and local employment services providers to garner the support of major contractors on the North West Rail Link. The aim of the project is to assist employers to fill vacancies with locally based disadvantaged job seekers. TAFE Western Sydney Institute developed a series of pre-employment training courses to meet employer needs.
A 29-year-old job seeker was referred to the training course after being unemployed for three and a half years. Facing barriers including anxiety and low self-esteem, the job seeker reported that he was feeling demoralised and inadequate after several unsuccessful job applications. He grasped the opportunity of working in a hands-on environment and attended training every day. As his knowledge and skills in the industry grew, his confidence increased.
He graduated from the course and, after a series of interviews, started employment. He has been working full-time for several months and says that he is feeling happy and more confident, and his employer says that he is very impressed with his attitude and work ethic.
The results have been impressive—to date, of the 33 job seekers who commenced training, 95 per cent graduated and over 70 per cent gained employment. The fourth graduation of the course was held recently, where the department’s NSW/ACT State Manager, Helen Willoughby, spoke of the benefits of the course to all involved. 'It is exciting to see the programme produce such great results for both job seekers and employers,’ Helen said.
Responding to community and industry needs
In response to the restructuring occurring in the automotive industry, the department worked closely with the Department of Human Services, the Department of Education and Training and state governments to provide information and seamless support for retrenched automotive workers. Representatives from the department are part of a governance committee responsible for ensuring that retrenched workers from automotive manufacturing firms and relevant supply chains receive training, skills and career advice to help them become job-ready.
In 2014–15, the department conducted labour market, industry and employment services sessions for affected automotive workers in Victoria and South Australia. The department also managed four structural adjustment programmes—the BlueScope Steel Labour Adjustment Programme, the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Structural Adjustment Programme, the Automotive Industry Structural Adjustment Programme and the Forestry Industry in Tasmania Structural Adjustment Programme—to support workers who were made redundant.
Assistance for retrenched workers in the Geelong area
During 2014–15, the department continued to assist unemployed people in the Geelong area. The area is undergoing a period of significant structural adjustment following the closures of a number of large-scale businesses in recent years, including Ford Australia and Alcoa.
The department continued to fund a Geelong employment facilitator to work with stakeholders—including the government, employers, employment services, training providers and the community sector—to identify and fund local projects and activities to generate employment opportunities and assist retrenched workers in Geelong. Activities have included job fairs; workshops on job-seeking skills, résumé writing and interview skills; and taster programmes that enable retrenched workers to experience working in non-traditional industries such as the community sector.
Launceston jobs fair and workshop
On 11 March 2015, the department held a jobs fair in Launceston, Tasmania, to promote employment opportunities and services to the local community. A total of 929 people attended the fair, which had 43 exhibitors and promoted around 230 local job opportunities.
Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz, Minister for Employment, launched the event with Eric Hutchinson MP, Federal Member for Lyons. The fair featured a range of exhibitors, including small and large employers, industry associations, government agencies, employment services providers, educational institutions and apprenticeship advisers. There were also information sessions on the local labour market and tips for writing a résumé.
Staff from the department’s national and Tasmanian state offices supported the event and talked with the community about departmental programmes and resources, including the benefits of the Tasmanian Jobs Programme and the Australian JobSearch website.
On 12–13 March 2015, the department hosted a joint Commonwealth, Tasmanian Government and OECD workshop on job creation and local economic development. The workshop brought together representatives from the OECD, employers, policy makers and other stakeholders to learn from international experiences and share local perspectives. The workshop sought to understand the challenges faced by employers in order to further support more and better quality jobs in Tasmania.
Workforce participation policy
Disability Employment Services
Although responsibility for managing the Disability Employment Services contract moved to the Department of Social Services (DSS) in 2013, the Department of Employment continues to closely liaise with DSS on matters relating to the delivery of the programme, such as data collection and sharing.
Support for job seekers with disability
The department is an active contributor to the development of the Disability Employment Taskforce, established by the government in April 2015 and led by DSS. The taskforce is reviewing the effectiveness of the current range of support services for job seekers with disability, with a view to developing a new national disability employment framework in 2016. The aim of the framework will be to improve employment outcomes for people with disability by developing a more flexible system of employment services that gives individuals more choices and control and better meets employer needs. Around 410,000 job seekers identified as having a disability are supported through employment services at any point in time, with 220,000 of these job seekers supported through jobactive.
Work visas and migration programmes
The department advised the government on portfolio interests in migration programmes and free trade agreements (including temporary entry commitments, labour market, workplace rights and government procurement) and other bilateral and multilateral international agreements and forums.
In May 2015, the department coordinated a whole-of-government submission to the Senate inquiry into the impact of Australia’s temporary work visa programmes on the Australian labour market and on the visa holders.
During 2014–15 the department also provided advice to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet regarding a range of employment and labour market issues.