Erin Lynch, Associate Director
The Turnbull Government has introduced the Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare –Trial- Hire) internship programs.
To participate in the program a person must:
- be 17 to 24 years old;
- have been on Jobactive, Transition to Work or Disability Employment Services for six months or more; and
- be on income support payments.
Under the program, young job seekers will be given the opportunity to gain employment and to move off government income support. The three elements of the program are designed to achieve this outcome.
Prepare – employability skills training. In this stage young people will be provided with training for up to six weeks in basic employability skills including teamwork, communication, personal presentation and interview skills.
Trial – internship placements. The “Trial” element of the program, will allow eligible young job seekers the opportunity to participate in an internship ranging from four to twelve weeks. The participants will attend a business for between 15 and 25 hours each week. During this period the job seekers will not be an employee of the business and any payment received is not considered remuneration. To encourage young job seekers and business alike to participate in the program, participants will be paid a fortnightly incentive payment of approximately $200 per fortnight and, under a Bill that is currently before the Senate, this will be paid in addition to government social security benefits. Businesses who take part will receive a payment of $1,000 to help cover the costs of hosting an intern.
Hire – “youth bonus” wage subsidies. Businesses will be eligible to receive a Youth Bonus wage subsidy of up to $10,000 if they employ a young job seeker under the age of 25 who has been in employment services for at least six months.In addition, young job seekers will be able to have their social security payments restored (without having to make a new claim or serve a waiting period) if they lose their job with a youth wage subsidy employer through no fault of their own within a prescribed time frame.
Labor, the Greens and the ACTU have not supported the program, arguing amongst other things, that the program “poses a serious risk to young people and inexperienced workers, and could also undermine Australia’s entire wage system with interns earning only $4 an hour – potentially dragging down pay and conditions for all workers”.
Will it work?
It is well known that young people struggle to gain employment. This appears to come about through a combination of inexperience and lack of applicable skills and on its face the Youth Jobs PaTH program has been developed to address some of those deficiencies, particularly with the Prepare and Trial elements of the program.
The Parliamentary Library’s Bills Digest suggests that “to the extent that it is closely regulated, participants are furnished with relevant training and labour market experience, and there is at least some prospect of employment as a result of the program participation, then it might reasonably be argued that the program is less exploitative than existing work experience and Work for the Dole arrangements for young people on income support”.
As with all work for the dole schemes, the challenge is to provide genuine work experience and to have the right incentives in place to encourage employers to offer these opportunities and for young people to see it as a chance to develop their employability skills and to show a prospective employer what they can do. Oversight of the scheme to avoid exploitation is also a factor.
Ultimately, the new initiative is designed to enable employers to help young job seekers develop the skills, values and behaviours expected in the workplace and make available genuine work experience for willing job seekers.