Employment, Indigenous and Youth Opportunities in the Federal Budget 2014 #budget2014

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For Employment, especially young people productivity and participation is the catch cry along with “…earn, learn or Work for the Dole!”

Unemployment rate is predicted to be 6% in 2013-14, 6.25% in 2014-15 and 6.25% in 2015-16.  This is all dependent on the combination of interventions, state and territory policy and programs, and the wider economy.  Some might have a view that the rate is unrealistic and too low.

It seems that for the employment programmes you are either young (under 30 years) or old (over 50) with nothing much for those in-between.  The definitions of young and mature as applied to government programmes need to be more contemporary.

Would most people think that young is under 30?  As the pension age is being raised over time to 70 years, would someone who is say 51, describe themselves as an older worker or mature?

New workforce initiatives that the Federal Budget 2014 offers, have to be considered in light of the consolidation of numerous programs and cutting of many existing funds.

This article outlines the workforce programs and initiatives that have been kept, deleted, reduced, consolidated and created in an analysis of the Budget 2014. 

Kept (redirected or boosted)

  • Workforce the Dole Programme – $14.9 million over 2 years to expand and pilot Jobs Brokers in 18 of the 21 Priority Employment Areas.  Under this measure, Jobs Brokers will identify and secure individual Work for the Dole Placements with Host Organisations (including not-for-profit and local, state or Commonwealth Government agencies) and connect the Host Organisations with the JSA provider. Each Jobs Broker will have access to an operating budget of $0.3 million to service the selected areas.
  • Headspace Programme – additional $14.9 million for 10 new headspace sites providing youth-friendly community-based services for young people aged 12-15 years.
  • Disability Employment Services – $8.5 million over 2 years for a partial tender for the Disability Management Services component

Deleted (savings or not proceeding)

  • Career Advice for Parents – $5.8 million savings with an expectation that Job Services Australia providers will continue to provide career advice to job seekers.
  • Connection Interviewers and Job Seeker Workshops – $4.4 million
  • Experience+ Career Advice – $3.9 million savings over 2 years
  • Ford Australia – assistance to workers $4.1 million and instead support will be via the Automotive Industry Structural Adjustment Programme
  • Move 2 Work – $1.2 million and replacing with a new programme called Relocation Assistance to Take up a Job

Reduced (savings or transferred)

  • Indigenous Language Support Programme – $9.5 million
  • Job Services Australia – restricting participation for Volunteer Job Seekers – $52.2 million by limiting the number of times that volunteer job seekers can access JSA to 1 occasion.
  • Local Employment Coordinator Flexible Funding Pool – $0.8 million in 20134-14
  • Stronger Compliance for Job Seekers who refuse or persistently fail to meet requirements – $20.9 million.  From 15 September 2014, all job seekers who refuse any work without a good reason will lose their payment for eight weeks and will no longer be permitted to waive their penalty through participation in additional activities or due to financial hardship.
  • Increasing the age of eligibility for Newstart Allowance and Sickness Allowance from 22 to 24 years of age from 1 January 2015 – $508.1 million savings
  • Participation Incentives for Job Seekers under 30 – $1.2 billion by changing access to income support for people under 30 years of age from 1 January 2015 to be earning, learning or participating in Work for the Dole.

Consolidated

  • Indigenous Affairs Programmes – rationalisation and savings of $534.4 million over 5 years with over 150 activities consolidated into a new Indigenous Advancement Strategy, “…comprised of five programmes focusing on Jobs, Land and the Economy; Children and Schooling; Safety and Wellbeing; Culture and Capability; and Remote Australia Strategies.”

Created (new, expanded or re-established)

  • Restart – additional $304.1 million from 2014-15 to boost the wag subsidy for mature age job seekers aged 50 years or over.  Payments are instalment based with $3000 after 6 months, $3000 after 12 months, $200 after 18 months, $2000 after 24 months of employment.

Restart seems an odd name for such an initiative and as the budget theme for employment is workforce engagement why not call it the Engage programme.

Written by Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner at Workforce BluePrint and VET Strategist at WPAA.

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