Farewelling Job Services Australia
This was the final year of Job Services Australia, the Australian Government’s primary employment services programme available to all job seekers entitled to work in Australia. Starting on 1 July 2015, the programme is being replaced by jobactive.
Since Job Services Australia began on 1 July 2009, the department has contracted a total of 116 Job Services Australia providers, selected through a competitive tender process, and monitored and supported them as they delivered services to job seekers in more than 2000 locations across the country.
Over the six years of the programme, the government spent $8.2 billion and assisted more than 3.5 million job seekers. Job Services Australia recorded 2,281,734 job placements, of which nearly 970,000 achieved the 13-week employment and education outcome and more than 600,000 the 26-week outcome.
Job Services Australia had a strong focus on delivering services to a range of priority groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, mature-age job seekers, youth job seekers, job seekers with disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse job seekers. Over the life of the programme, Job Services Australia recorded:
- 220,000 job placements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- 310,000 job placements for mature-age job seekers (aged 50 and over)
- 725,000 job placements for youth job seekers (aged under 25)
- 425,000 job placements for job seekers with disability
- 325,000 job placements for culturally and linguistically diverse job seekers.
Job seeker attendance rates at all appointments with employment services providers in 2014–15 increased by 2 percentage points on the previous year, from 65 per cent to 67 per cent. Changes to job seeker compliance arrangements led to a significant increase, from 65 per cent to 80 per cent, in attendance rates at reconnection appointments, which job seekers are required to attend in order to re-engage with their provider following an initial failure to attend.
See pages 25–30 for a summary and analysis of the programme’s performance against its deliverable and key performance indicators in 2014–15.
Preparing for the new employment services programme—jobactive
Throughout 2014–15, the department worked on the development and implementation of the new employment services model, jobactive.
The introduction of jobactive on 1 July 2015 is part of the government’s overall commitment to building a strong and prosperous economy that promotes stronger workforce participation by working-age Australians and helps more job seekers move from welfare to work. This demand-driven programme will receive funding of over $6 billion over four years (from 2015–16 to 2018–19).
A network of providers has been contracted to deliver jobactive across Australia. They are a mix of large, medium and small, for-profit and not-for-profit organisations that are experienced in delivering services and support for job seekers and employers.
How jobactive will work
There are five jobactive services:
- Forty-four jobactive providers will assist job seekers to find and keep a job and ensure employers are receiving candidates that meet their business needs.
- Nineteen Work for the Dole Coordinators will source suitable Work for the Dole activities in the not-for-profit and government sectors. These activities will help prepare job seekers for the work environment.
- Twenty-one organisations delivering the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme will help eligible job seekers to start and run their own small businesses. Support includes accredited small business training, business advice and mentoring for up to 52 weeks as well as an allowance for up to 39 weeks.
- Five Harvest Labour Services will gather information on vacancies from growers and supply eligible job seekers to horticultural producers in regions that have a need for out-of-area harvest workers.
- The National Harvest Labour Information Service will continue to coordinate information about harvest opportunities across Australia.
The jobactive programme is a new system that is more flexible and responsive to the needs of job seekers and employers. It has been designed to:
- ensure that job seekers better meet the needs of employers
- increase job seeker engagement by introducing stronger mutual obligation requirements
- increase job outcomes for unemployed Australians
- reduce prescription and red tape for service providers.
The jobactive performance framework will emphasise achieving sustainable employment outcomes and ensuring that job seekers are satisfying their mutual obligation requirements. For the first time, collaboration between providers and contractual compliance will also be recognised through the star ratings model.
Under Job Services Australia, star ratings were used by:
- job seekers to compare the performance of providers in their local area
- providers as a measure of their performance
- the department to drive improved performance and allocate business share to providers.
Star ratings will continue to be used in the delivery of jobactive, enabling the department to monitor the performance of providers based on what providers could reasonably be expected to have achieved, given the unique set of job seekers they have assisted in their specific labour market.
The ratings measure the relative performance of providers against contractual performance measures. The main focus is on efficiency—the average time taken by a provider in comparison with other providers to assist participants into employment—and effectiveness—the proportions of participants for whom placements and outcomes are achieved.
The star ratings model calculates a performance score for each site across Australia and uses those scores to calculate a national average performance score. Star ratings are then allocated by comparing the scores for individual sites to the national average. For example, sites that are 40 per cent or more above the national average are allocated five stars.
Quality assurance framework
During 2014–15 the department developed and established a new quality assurance framework for implementation from 1 July 2015 as part of the jobactive Deed 2015–2020. The introduction of certification of jobactive providers recognises that the quality of service delivery is integral to provider performance.
All jobactive providers will be required to be certified within the first year of the programme. The service guarantee reflects the government’s expectations of jobactive providers, stating the minimum level of service each job seeker can expect to receive as well the requirements they need to meet while looking for employment.
The jobactive service guarantee defines the nature and frequency of services to be provided to job seekers to ensure that they receive quality, personalised assistance.
To complement service guarantees, each jobactive provider is required to publish service delivery plans setting out, for the information of job seekers and employers, the additional services that job seekers and employers can expect to receive. The department will also use the plans to measure the tender commitments of providers against services actually delivered. The last of the plans were finalised in May 2015 and they can be viewed on the service page for each provider on the Australian JobSearch website.
The mutual obligation framework for job seekers has been simplified and extended to ensure job seekers remain active and engaged while looking for work. Job seekers with mutual obligation requirements will generally need to enter into a job plan with their jobactive provider setting out all the activities they are required to undertake to help them find work.
The new employment services system is less prescriptive and will allow jobactive providers to be more innovative and explore new ways to support job seekers to gain the skills and attributes that employers need. Also, to encourage greater efficiency through economies of scale, 51 employment regions will replace the 110 employment service areas under Job Services Australia. There will be, at most, seven jobactive providers in an employment region.
Preparing for implementation
Throughout 2014–15, the department worked on programme design, IT development, brand design, communication and stakeholder engagement and training to prepare for the introduction of jobactive.
JobSearch website development
The department made a range of modifications to the Australian JobSearch website to support the introduction of jobactive and improve the focus on providing job seekers with the tools they need. A dashboard provides job seekers with information about their search history, résumé updates and employment service-providers, as well as a number of self-help tools. In some cases, employment services providers can access data through the dashboard, enabling them to provide tailored services to and initiate discussions with job seekers.
As part of these changes, in December 2014 JobSearch moved to using myGov as the sign-in system for job seekers. All job seekers are now required to use myGov to access their JobSearch accounts. This change reflects the department’s ongoing commitment to provide best-practice online security and simplify access to government services online. By 30 June 2015, more than 70,000 job seekers had linked their JobSearch accounts to myGov.
In December 2014 the department released a new and improved Job Seeker JobSearch app. The app allows job seekers to enjoy the benefits of the JobSearch website on the go. It is available for free from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, and since its release it has been downloaded more than 53,000 times. In early July 2015, the department is scheduled to release a new Employer jobactive app. This app will allow employers to create and manage vacancies, find potential candidates and find employment services providers on the go.
On 27 June 2015, the upgraded website was rebranded ‘jobactive, powered by JobSearch’.
Job Seeker Classification Instrument
The Job Seeker Classification Instrument is used to measure a job seeker’s relative difficulty in gaining and maintaining employment and helps identify the level of support they will need to help them find work. Job seekers must have an assessment when they first register for Australian Government employment assistance, and whenever their circumstances change.
The Job Seeker Classification Instrument uses 18 factors and a number of sub-factors that have been identified—through ongoing formal research, expert advice and consultations—as having a significant relationship with a job seeker’s likelihood of remaining unemployed for another year. These factors include age and gender, educational attainment, English proficiency, geographic location, and disability or medical conditions.
During the year, the department re-estimated the Job Seeker Classification Instrument; the results will be implemented in jobactive from 1 July 2015.
The jobactive procurement process
The department released an exposure draft of the purchasing arrangements for the jobactive programme on 28 July 2014. Sixteen information sessions were held nationally to allow the public to provide feedback before the release of the request for tender in early October 2014. A further 14 sessions were held to explain the requirements of the tender, including the procurement process. The Employment Services Information Hotline—a dedicated hotline available to tenderers throughout the procurement process—responded to approximately 900 calls and emails between the release of the exposure draft and the announcement of tender results.
Robust and transparent governance arrangements were developed to support staff during the procurement process. As a matter of best practice and to ensure compliance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, an external probity adviser was appointed to oversee the process. This ensured the process was conducted transparently, including that interested parties were treated fairly and that information was communicated consistently and uniformly.
After tenders closed, staff evaluated the submissions and conducted financial viability checks. Recommendations from the evaluation were reviewed by a specialist committee comprising senior departmental managers and state office managers. The recommendations from the committee were then presented to the delegate, the department’s Deputy Secretary, Employment, Martin Hehir, for decision. Outcomes of the procurement were announced on 31 March 2015, and 66 jobactive deeds and 19 deeds for Work for the Dole Coordinators were dispatched.
The department offered debriefing sessions for all successful and unsuccessful tenderers; 88 organisations requested a debriefing.
The department established comprehensive transition arrangements to support the smooth transfer from Job Services Australia to jobactive and minimise disruption for job seekers, employers and providers.
A number of strategies were implemented to help job seekers understand the transition process and let them know what to expect under the new arrangements. Registered Job Services Australia job seekers were notified about the changes through two advices. The first was sent in April 2015 to provide general information about jobactive and the transition process. The second was sent in late May and early June 2015 to advise job seekers of their status under the new arrangements, provide the details of their new jobactive provider, steps they could follow to change their provider, and how to get more information. The department also published fact sheets and information for job seekers on its website.
After the successful tenderers were announced, a dedicated Transition Hotline was set up to respond to job seeker queries. The department also released a number of online tools to support job seekers through the transition process. For example, new functions were added to Australian JobSearch so that job seekers could see which jobactive provider they were transitioned to and select a different provider.
The department provided extensive support to jobactive organisations, including releasing guidelines and learning centre modules. Webinar sessions were also held that provided detailed information about jobactive and its IT system. A national forum was held in April 2015 for organisations delivering jobactive in order to build connections and encourage collaboration.