The Department administers a number of wage subsidies designed to broker employment opportunities for eligible job seekers; they can be a valuable tool for assisting disadvantaged job seekers into work. Wage subsidies also help employers build their business and further contribute to the economy.
The use of wage subsidies supports the Government’s broader objective of increasing workforce participation and is a key element of the jobactive model. Wage subsidies of up to $6,500 or $10,000 (GST inclusive) are available to employers who hire eligible mature-age (50 years and over), Indigenous, youth (15 to 29 years old), parent and long-term unemployed job seekers.
As part of the Australian Government’s Youth Employment Package, PaTH (Prepare–Trial–Hire), announced in the 2016–17 Budget, from 1 January 2017 the Government introduced a new Youth Bonus wage subsidy and improvements to all existing wage subsidies that simplify processes and reduce red tape for employment services providers and employers.
A streamlining project during the year simplified the administration of wage subsidies for employers and increased incentives for their use. All wage subsidies are now paid over six months, with an initial 40 per cent payment available after the first month of the job. Additionally, all wage subsidies can now be created and managed online, supporting the Government’s red tape reduction agenda.
The number of job seekers being supported by wage subsidies is increasing over time. Actual take-up can be volatile and sensitive to labour market changes. In 2016–17 more than 38,500 wage subsidy agreements were entered into with employers. Total expenditure for the year was $85.3 million.
Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job
The Department administers the Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job program, which started on 1 July 2014. The program provides practical and financial assistance to long-term unemployed job seekers who relocate to take up ongoing employment. Eligible job seekers can receive assistance of up to $6,000 (GST exclusive) when they move to a regional area or up to $3,000 if they move to a capital city for a new job. Families with a dependent child or children can receive up to an extra $3,000 of assistance.
In 2016–17, 697 job seekers were assisted to relocate to take up employment opportunities, including 123 participants in Disability Employment Services.
The Employment Fund
jobactive providers have access to the Employment Fund, which is a flexible pool of funds that can be used to help eligible job seekers build the experience and skills to obtain and keep jobs.
During 2016–17, the Department continued to increase the flexibility of the Employment Fund and streamline administration in response to industry feedback. Changes included increasing funding rates for some services, introduction of new categories of expenditure to support new programs and removing unnecessary restrictions.
The National Work Experience Programme
The National Work Experience Programme offers job seekers the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and abilities and showcase their suitability to a prospective employer for up to four weeks. In 2016–17, the proportion of National Workplace Experience Programme participants from among jobactive participants who had achieved employment outcomes was relatively high: just over 46 per cent of participants attained a job placement within three months of undertaking a placement. From 1 July 2018, the program is to be expanded and enhanced to provide more work experience opportunities for people looking for work, with incentive payments to providers and businesses who host a placement.
The Job Commitment Bonus
The Job Commitment Bonus program operated from 1 July 2014 to 31 December 2016. It ceased following repeal of the enabling legislation. The program was established to provide a financial incentive for young Australians aged 18 to 30 years to find a job, keep it and stay off welfare. Eligible young people were paid a bonus of $2,500 for remaining in a job for one year and a further $4,000 for remaining in a job for a second year. As at 30 June 2017, 6,595 one-year bonus payments and 1,223 two-year bonus payments had been granted.
Focusing on Youth and Parents
The Youth Employment Package—Youth Jobs PaTH
Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare–Trial–Hire) is helping to connect young people who need job-ready skills and employers who are keen to invest in a young person’s future. It responds directly to feedback from employers that young job seekers are not ready for work and lack recent work experience. As the name suggests, PaTH contains three flexible elements: prepare–trial–hire.
Prepare: Employability Skills Training
PaTH Employability Skills Training involves two separate training blocks of three weeks each. The first block equips young people (aged 15 to 24) with pre-employment skills to prepare them to meet the expectations of employers. The second block focuses on job preparation and equips young people with advanced job hunting skills, career development, interview skills and the opportunity to participate in industry awareness experiences. Employability Skills Training providers are expected to adapt the content of their training blocks to meet the needs of the local labour market, providing experience that will give young people skills directly relevant to local work opportunities in a variety of industries. Each course is expected to include elements from the Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework (2013)—for example, communicate for work, connect and work with others, planning and organising, and working in a digital world. Due to the flexibility of design, courses can be done independently: a young person can do block one or block two or both, depending on their assessed need. Employability Skills Training courses began in April 2017. As at 30 June 2017, 4,894 young people had commenced in 590 courses.
Trial: PaTH Internships
The PaTH Internships element is a voluntary work experience placement of between four and 12 weeks. Internships allow providers, employers and eligible young people to work together to design work experience placements that meet the needs of businesses looking to recruit and young people looking for work and experience in a real workplace. The program is designed to support young people aged 17 to 24 years who are registered with jobactive, Transition to Work or Disability Employment Services and have been in employment services for at least six months.
PaTH Internships provide financial incentives of $1,000 to host businesses and a $200 fortnightly payment to participating job seekers on top of their income support. Transition to Work and jobactive providers are also eligible to receive an internship outcome payment when the young person completes an internship or gains employment. For jobactive providers, this is a scaled payment depending on the job seeker’s circumstances and ranges from $400 to $2,500. Transition to Work providers receive a flat-rate payment of $940.
The Department developed an easy-to-use online platform available to employers, job seekers and providers. The jobactive website allows employers to advertise and connect with local employment services providers who can help find the right young person. Eligible young people who are registered with jobactive, Transition to Work and Disability Employment Services are able to search for internship opportunities in their local area.
The program design has considered program assurance from the outset and includes strategies to prevent, deter, detect and correct inappropriate use.
PaTH Internships began in April 2017. As at 30 June 2017, 1,261 unique internship vacancies had been advertised via the jobactive website and there had been 636 internship placements, of which 423 were still active. Eighty-two young people had gained employment as a result of the program in industries including retail, hospitality, construction and administration support.
Internships as a PaTH to employment
For 24-year-old Jamie, taking a PaTH Internship was a way to show her work skills to a potential employer and gain full-time ongoing employment. Living in the regional New South Wales town of Tenterfield, Jamie had spent a year searching for work, with no luck.
Jamie’s jobactive provider worked with local employers to source internships as a way of recruiting staff and suggested that Jamie meet with Dr Nilukshi and Mr Mohan Siribaddana about an internship as a receptionist at Tenterfield Medical Centre.
Jamie started her internship the next day, using the placement to demonstrate her work skills and learn about working as a medical receptionist. She completed her internship to start a two year full time traineeship as a medical receptionist. ‘It’s been a great learning experience’, she said.
As for Mohan, he said of Jamie, ‘She wants to learn and she is happy to do that and we want to take her to the best possible place in this field … from her very first day at work I realised she is ready to face this challenge’.
Dr Nilukshi and Mr Siribaddana have a strong desire to give back to the community, and they are pleased to give this employment opportunity to a young person like Jamie. ‘It is one of the best programs the government has done’, Mohan said. ‘It allows the employer to check out the employee for a few weeks to see if he or she fits into their workplace. And it’s comfortable for both of us, employee and employer.’
Jamie couldn’t be happier: ‘To have been looking for work for a year, to have considered leaving town to find a job to help my family, and then to have been offered this job it was incredible’.
Hire: the Youth Bonus wage subsidy
The Department successfully implemented the Hire elements of PaTH with a new Youth Bonus wage subsidy of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) from 1 January 2017. Under jobactive, employment services providers deliver and manage the wage subsidy agreements they enter into with employers on behalf of the Department (as program and policy owners). The Youth Bonus wage subsidy is available to help more businesses hire young people (aged 15 to 24 years) and is also promoted to employers and providers as part of the Department’s Employer Mobilisation Strategy. As at 30 June 2017, 6,314 Youth Bonus wage subsidy agreements had been entered into with employers.
The package as a whole—Prepare, Trial, Hire.
PaTH recognises that one size does not fit all and offers significant flexibility in the options available to employers and job seekers, and in their delivery. The Department implemented the delivery and manages all three elements of PaTH through employment services providers and Registered Training Organisations. The Department provides support to these providers to tailor elements of the package to suit the needs of individual young job seekers, while meeting the needs of employers in the local employment region. The three elements of PaTH can be undertaken independently of each other. For example:
- Zarah has limited job skills that can be boosted by undertaking Employability Skills Training block 1; following the training Zarah commences in a PaTH Internship.
- Chloe secures a PaTH Internship; her host then employs her and could receive a Youth Bonus Wage Subsidy.
Youth Jobs PaTH aims to create new opportunities for young people in a range of businesses and industries. An Employer Mobilisation Strategy has been developed to build awareness of government support available to business and encourage more businesses to consider hiring young people. The strategy also aims to increase the number of businesses using government employment services.
The Department has engaged extensively with business groups, small to medium enterprises and all spheres of government to build awareness of the benefits to employers and young jobseekers. The Department’s network of employer liaison officers has been working with employers to develop strategies to meet their recruitment needs through the program. The department is also working closely with business groups on strategies to provide greater employment opportunities for young people under the program.
The Youth Employment Package: support to encourage entrepreneurship and self-employment
The New Enterprise Incentive Scheme is helping more job seekers to start their own business as a result of the enhancements to the program. As part of the Encouraging Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment initiative, the Department implemented changes to broaden eligibility to provide access to the training and mentoring elements of the program to people who are not on income support and are not in employment, education or training. To support the broadening of eligibility, the department also allocated an additional 2,300 funded places each financial year to New Enterprise Incentive Scheme providers.
Exploring Being My Own Boss
The Department engaged New Enterprise Incentive Scheme providers to deliver Exploring Being My Own Boss workshops nationally from December 2016. In 2016–17, 264 individuals participated in an Exploring Being my Own Boss workshop. A thousand workshop places will be available each financial year from 2017–18. The workshops are providing young people who are interested in starting their own business a greater understanding of what self-employment and entrepreneurship entail and what skills they might need.
In December 2016, the Department undertook a competitive selection process and appointed three Entrepreneurship facilitators in three regions with high youth unemployment—Cairns, Hunter (including Newcastle) and Launceston–North East Tasmania. The facilitators are actively working to promote entrepreneurship and self-employment in these regions and support young Australians in establishing their own business.
The SelfStart Online Hub
The Department released the SelfStart Online Hub to support and inspire young people who wish to explore and develop their ideas into a successful business. SelfStart is helping to connect young people to services and programs in their region, as well as providing information that will help them start a business.
The Youth Employment Strategy: Transition to Work
The Department’s Transition to Work service is aimed at helping young people at increased risk of long-term unemployment to develop the work-readiness skills they need to find employment and reduce welfare dependence. It targets young people aged 15 to 21 years who have left school early or disengaged from education, training or employment and offers individually tailored intensive pre-employment support to address a variety of vocational and non-vocational barriers preventing a young person from gaining employment. This support includes coaching and assistance for young people to help them understand what is expected in the workplace and develop the skills, attitudes and behaviours they will need to improve their prospects in the labour market.
During 2016–17, the Department’s Transition to Work service, which is located in 51 employment regions, helped 26,759 young people become more work ready, with 20,369 (76.1 per cent) being placed in education or employment. The Department has encouraged a collaborative approach between Transition to Work service providers, to assist in achieving success and maximising outcomes for young participants. Transition to Work service providers have demonstrated their commitment to collaboration by facilitating their own regional-level shared-practice meetings and developing networks such as communities of practice.
The Department is committed to continuous improvement. It has worked with Transition to Work service providers to resolve factors affecting their ability to effectively provide services to young people. The Department has made a number of minor changes to policy, guidelines and processes to improve the services required to meet the diverse needs of young people.
Sarra’s transition to work
Sarra started with ETC (her Transition to Work service provider) in January 2017. Right from the start she had a confident attitude and a strong drive to achieve her goals. Although she was very determined, she was changing her mind regularly about what her career goal was. She benefited from the intensive support ETC offered her.
To assist Sarra in being clearer about her goals, ETC encouraged her to attend its workshops. Sarra attended every session she could and was an active participant, demonstrating her commitment to getting the most out of the workshops, which provided an opportunity for her to learn how to set clearer career and life goals, write effective résumés and cover letters, and practise interview skills with mock interviews. Sarra also attended an ETC Discovery Day to gain insights into the ins and outs of daily working life.
Being more prepared for the ‘working world’ and having clear career goals, Sarra decided she wanted to become a cabinet maker. She met with ETC’s business relationship advisor to assess her job readiness and then market her to potential employers. The advisor was very impressed with Sarra and helped her explore employment opportunities with local cabinet-making businesses in the area. The following week Sarra had secured a position as a trades assistant with a local business. ETC also gave Sarra practical support, including helping her obtain new steel-capped work boots.
Sarra’s determination paid off and her employer was impressed. After only two weeks, she was offered a cabinet-making apprenticeship with the business.
Sarra’s career is going well and her future is bright as a result of her perseverance and the intensive guidance, support and expertise offered by her Transition to Work service provider.
New approaches to engaging employers: DISCO’s digital presentation folder
How do you get an engaging, appealing and successful message to employers about the services you offer as a Transition to Work service provider?
As a Transition to Work service provider, Downs Industry Schools Co operations Inc, called DISCO, is required by the Department to deliver high-quality employment services and support to employers in Queensland’s Darling Downs region by ensuring they have access to skilled job ready employees. To increase employer awareness about the services offered by Transition to Work, DISCO created a video-based presentation in a handy flip card: when employers open the card a short film clip starts playing on a small screen, showing the service provider explaining the benefits and services available to employers and showcasing a participant who is looking for employment in the local area. The card gives time-poor employers easy-to-digest information that can help them understand the employment services offered by Transition to Work and immediately introduces them to some work-ready candidates.
The Department commenced the ParentsNext initiative on 4 April 2016, with 31 projects established across 10 local government areas. The program helps parents plan and prepare for employment while caring for young children and aims to increase parents’ prospects of employment by the time their children start school. A key objective is to connect parents of young children to services in their local community to help them plan and prepare for employment.
Between 4 April 2016 and 30 June 2017, the Department of Human Services referred 18,527 parents to project providers. Providers assisted these parents to identify education and employment goals, develop a participation plan and access activities. Parents have become involved in more than 41,064 activities that meet their individual needs—including more than 9,000 undertaking education and training, almost 6,000 participating in community services such as parenting courses or counselling, and over 1,000 moving into employment.
Amy’s ParentsNext story
With the help of ParentsNext, Amy, a mother of three, gained the confidence she needed to take up further education. Having been out of the workforce for a number of years while raising her children, she wanted to get some qualifications but was not sure how to go about it: ‘I didn’t feel that I had a pull towards anything; nothing was pulling me; and nothing was sparking an interest. I felt really lost. And so I really did feel that I needed some help’.
Connecting with her local ParentsNext service provider changed this: ‘I was really eager and excited to see what they were going to be able to offer me and to see if they [could] help me find what I really did want to do’. The conversations she had with her case worker helped Amy organise her thoughts, identify her interests and set up a plan to achieve her goals: ‘Just getting him to give me some ideas on what to do, getting back into résumé writing and adding to what my interests and my skills were … maybe that would spark something. We just started with small goals’.
Amy decided to start with the Introduction to Women’s Studies course and, through further discussions with and encouragement from her case worker, she continued to build on her goals and went on to enrol in Women’s Studies at TAFE. Her case worker pointed out that it could be her gateway to university: ‘I’ve never thought about that and then it was just basically like an “ah-ha!” moment. This wave of emotion took over me and I’m, like, I’m going to university. That’s exactly what I’m going to do,’ said Amy. She enrolled in Women’s Studies at TAFE with the intention of completing Certificates II, III, and IV before transitioning to university.
‘ParentsNext helped me with organising my thoughts and trying to find a plan, and to definitely set my goals for the future for myself … The future for me and my children looks absolutely amazing.’
Amy’s full story can be viewed on the Department’s YouTube channel.
Youth employment: the Empowering YOUth Initiatives
The Empowering YOUth Initiatives provide an opportunity for not-for profit and non-government organisations to deliver new, innovative approaches to help long-term unemployed young people aged 15 to 24 years to improve their skills, move toward sustainable employment and prevent long-term welfare dependency. Funding has been provided through a competitive grant process over two rounds with successful projects operating for up to two years. The Department introduced a co-design workshop in the second round of grants to improve the quality of proposals and their capacity to be evaluated. This process was highly praised by applicants. The first 19 projects have been operating for 12 months. A second round of 21 projects has just begun, with a focus on Indigenous young people, young people in areas of Australia with high youth unemployment, apprenticeships and traineeships, and creating new or improved pathways to employment for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The initiatives are highly diverse and use a variety of approaches to address the barriers young people face in seeking to gain and sustain employment—for example, work experience, adventure therapy, digital platforms and social enterprises. Projects will be evaluated to inform ongoing service delivery and future policy design for young people across government and non-government community service providers.
The jobhelp trial: pre-release prisoners
The Department teamed up with the Victorian Government’s Department of Justice and Regulation and the Commonwealth Department of Human Services to trial a new approach to delivering employment services for pre-release prisoners. The jobhelp trial challenged the status quo through an innovative and collaborative approach to the delivery of employment services in five Victorian prisons.
At present, incarcerated prisoners have limited access to employment services and often struggle to connect with employment after release. The trial involved the jobhelp provider going into the prison and providing practical one-on-one assistance to prisoners who were in the last months before release. Working one on one allowed providers to build trust and rapport and thus assist prisoners in building tangible employment skills, better enabling them to reconnect with the labour market on their release. Providers supported the prisoners in developing practical skills in jobs search, résumé writing and interview techniques.
Stakeholders agreed that the trial filled a critical gap in service provision for prisoners, meaning the trial had the capacity to make a significant difference to prisoners in helping them reconnect with employment and ultimately reduce the risk of recidivism. Prisoners have responded positively, many reporting that they hope this can help them break out of the cycle of offending and incarceration.
The jobhelp trial began in February 2016 and servicing was completed by 30 June 2017, by which date 295 prisoners had received servicing. Findings from the trial are being used to help shape the future of servicing for pre-release prisoners and ex-offenders.
Charity Bounce engaging young people
Charity Bounce is one of the organisations delivering services through Empowering YOUth Initiatives to deliver the Hoop Dreams project, in which Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse young people are helped to obtain and stay in employment. High-profile role models from the National Basketball League are used to encourage participants to take up employment opportunities related to the world of basketball.
Basketball programs are a positive engagement tool, giving participants increased confidence, life skills and improved techniques for inclusion in the community and positive employment outcomes. Relationships exist with state and national basketball organisations, and the National Basketball Association global directors engaged with Charity Bounce participants in delivering the program. A range of basketball activities are delivered in program locations, including Bidwell weekly basketball, PCYC Redfern afternoon basketball, and Eat Strong Play Strong Western Sydney Emerton.
Partnerships have also been established with a number of organisations to deliver arts programs, among them Bangarra Theatre, Holroyd Youth Service and Arts NSW (Carriageworks). Additionally, in collaboration with renowned chef Sean Connolly, the Eat Strong Play Strong program has a focus on cultural diversity in food, nutrition, and healthy eating programs.
Charity Bounce has a collaborative partnership with Future You, a senior executive recruitment company with offices in Sydney and Melbourne and key industry relationships. The partnership has three elements:
- pre-employment preparation delivered by experienced recruiters—how to present yourself in interviews, résumé writing, how to differentiate yourself from other applicants, and so on
- industry-led direct connections with employers to ensure that sponsored job places are available for all candidates participating in the pre-employment preparation
- career mentor programs where Future You staff provide career mentoring for the young people placed in jobs.
This initiative has already engaged 97 young people in a range of activities including pre employment training and Indigenous and multicultural arts programs. Thirty-seven at-risk young people had been placed in jobs and 23 more had achieved a 13-week outcome by the end of May 2017.
The jobhelp trial: a warm handover
One of the unique features of the jobhelp trial was the warm handover. The objective of the handover was to help the jobhelp participant seamlessly transfer from jobhelp services in prison to employment services on their release from prison, to ensure continuity of care between prison and community-based service delivery and build the participant’s own motivation and enthusiasm about finding employment.
Warm handovers consisted of a three-way conversation between the participant, the in-prison jobhelp provider and the post-release jobactive provider. The mechanism was used to introduce the prisoner to the post-release provider and discuss their background, skills, experience and vocational aspirations.
Great Southern empowering youth
The Great Southern Employment Development Committee in Albany was funded by the Department as part of the first round of Empowering YOUth initiatives to deliver an innovative project that would help young people at risk of long-term unemployment improve their skills and move towards sustainable employment.
Great Southern recognised that in the Albany region there was a growing number of disengaged young people with little connection to the community. As a result, it built Young Harvest—a garlic-cropping and bee-keeping social enterprise strongly aligned with the ecology and employment opportunities of the region.
Each week, program participants attend one day of learning and development sessions and one day of paid work. For some participants, this is the first time someone in their immediate family has been engaged in paid employment. The youth involved in the project are also able to access wrap-around support, which continues once they find ongoing work elsewhere.
Since the project started a year ago, participants have attended conferences at the local chamber of commerce, met with fellow farmers in the region, and developed partnerships with local business and industry. They have also produced enough organic Australian garlic and honey to begin selling to Albany locals at the Albany Plaza Shopping Centre in the hope that their business might be sustainable beyond the project’s funding period.
To date, 16 participants have found ongoing work or have begun further training as a result of their involvement in Young Harvest.