Media Releases

Liberals Must Not Sign New Employment Services Contracts Before the Election

December 14, 2018

Today’s employment services report release demonstrates that an extensive overhaul is needed.
For the sake of providers, employers, and unemployed Australians, the government must commit to refrain from signing new employment services contracts before the election.
Whoever wins the election and forms government can then make sure any changes can be managed in a considered manner. This is too important to be rushed.
This government is failing Australian unemployed workers, and it is failing Australian businesses who are in need of talent. 
Much more needs to be done to understand local labour markets, match unemployed people with job vacancies, and connect people to relevant training and development where skills shortages exist.
Labor has repeatedly called on the government to release the employment services report, which was due to be completed on 15 October.
It’s about time the Liberals are releasing the report - it was due to be completed two months ago. 
Employment service providers, advocacy groups and individuals looking for work have all expressed grave concerns about the current state of employment services.

Unemployed people need high quality labour market programs to help with their return to the paid workforce.
Businesses need labour market programs that can respond to emerging needs by connecting people, skills and jobs.
There is a role for digital services but they must be used to make it easier for people to meet mutual obligation requirements, become employable and find work. Digital services must not be used as a cost-cutting measure to replace human contact where it’s needed.
Nor can this government be trusted to manage technology-led human services, after their robodebt debacle.
Labour market programs should be squarely focussed on responding to skills shortages, building people’s employability, and getting people into jobs. They should not be punitive or dehumanising. 
Compliance programs should serve the aim of keeping people in touch with the world of paid work. They should not be savings measures. 
The government’s 2017 budget claimed that their work for the dole changes and new “compliance framework” would achieve “efficiencies” of $632.0 million over five years (an amount revised downwards by $7.6 million in 2018).
This is code for a new punitive approach that cuts the incomes of unemployed people. 
Labor did not support the welfare compliance reforms and is pleased that the report released today reportedly criticises the government’s approach for being too punitive.
Mutual obligation requirements including work for the dole must be aimed at increasing employment.
Labor remains concerned about the effectiveness of work for the dole. It’s a program that costs tens of millions of dollars.
Yet a government-commissioned evaluation report released in 2018 estimated that in the short-term work for the dole resulted in only an additional 2% of participants getting a job placement. 
The government clearly shares Labor’s concerns about the current program given it cut $148 million from it over the forward estimates in the 2017 budget.
Employment services and Australia’s labour market programs need reform. The government must not rush through any new contracts. Current arrangements expire in 2020.