The Australian Council of Social Service, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Business Council of Australia today jointly proposed improvements to employment services to deliver better job outcomes for people disadvantaged in the labour market.
The proposal, put forward ahead of the announcement by the federal government of new national contracts with employment services providers, follows the development of an alliance between three organisations to work together to tackle entrenched disadvantage.
The organisations propose employment services be reoriented towards a ‘partnerships approach’, which more effectively links employment services with employer needs, and where funding is redirected to more targeted training and in-job support.
The partnerships approach is proposed to include the following:
- Establishment of employment brokers to create partnerships between employers and employment services to better match jobseekers with labour demand.
- Establishment of regional employment boards in areas of high unemployment to promote the partnerships approach among industry, unions, employment services and training providers.
- Redirecting training resources from the existing Employment Pathway Fund to focus more on disadvantaged jobseekers, and to fund work experience and training as part of the partnerships approach.
“Stronger partnerships, supported by employment brokers would enable job service providers to better respond to employer demand, tailor training opportunities to employer need and provide in-work support to jobseekers to ensure lasting employment outcomes,” said Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO.
“It is critical that people currently excluded from the labour market are given support to participate, and at the same time, employers need to have a direct line of sight to disadvantaged jobseekers,” she said.
The demand-led model offers employers the opportunity to partner more directly with service providers, and ensure services can link jobseekers with opportunities.
“The employment services system needs to be much more effectively matched to the needs of employers, the other crucial half of a successful job match,” said Business Council of Australia Chief Executive, Jennifer Westacott.
“Business wants to play a role in ensuring all jobseekers are in a position to contribute to and benefit from economic growth. A partnership with service providers will help make the most of opportunities for disadvantaged jobseekers,” Ms Westacott said.
The ACTU believes the model offers an opportunity to overcome obstacles facing disadvantaged jobseekers.
“There are groups of people in Australia – the very long-term unemployed; many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and high numbers of people with disability who remain excluded from society,” said President of the ACTU, Ged Kearney.
“A partnerships approach would be facilitated by the broader community, including training providers, unions and community services. By working together we can reduce poverty, enhance human dignity, and improve job security and the economy”, Ms Kearney said.
The organisations are seeking government support to facilitate two trials of the employment partnerships – one at the national level focused on large national employers, and one at the regional level focused on a network of regional employers.
Background: The model explained
The system would focus on three groups: very long-term unemployed people; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People identified as disadvantaged jobseekers, and people with disability identified as disadvantaged jobseekers.
As far as possible the employment partnerships approach would be embedded into the mainstream employment services system, to avoid duplication of effort and to allow best practice to be spread as widely as possible.
The organisations propose two trials of the partnerships proposal be conducted – one at the national level focused on large national employers, and one at the regional level focused on a network of regional employers, with employment services and jobseekers at the centre.
The trials should be facilitated by our organisations and government, but initiated by service providers and employers, and would run for two years prior to being evaluated.
Specifically, the organisations have recommended:
- The appointment of national and regional employment brokers to promote and coordinate partnerships and to connect employers with disadvantaged jobseekers.
- Establishing regional employment boards or networks in regions with high unemployment to promote employment partnerships among employers, industry organisations, unions, employment services and training providers.
- Redirecting resources for provider investment in the Employment Pathway Fund to focus more on disadvantaged jobseekers, and allow providers to use the fund for employer partnership development and related work experience and training.
- Rewarding lasting employment outcomes where jobseekers remain in paid employment.
- Giving providers more incentives to attract the most disadvantaged jobseekers, and giving jobseekers more information to make an effective choice of provider.
- Ensuring access within the Vocational Education and Training system to training up to AQF3 level for jobseekers in receipt of income support payments, while ensuring that the training matches the jobseeker’s interests and skill sets and aligns with current skills shortages and labour market needs.