May 10, 2015

When One Door Closes . . .






Last week the Job Services Australia agency, that I've been obliged to visit over a longer period than I want to remember, announced its closure. I was told it had failed to pass the competitive tender process, required for the new Australian Employment Services 2015-20 model that's replacing JSA - called jobactive. Official start date is July 1, 2015.

I've had the best of times and the worst of times in that agency so I'm glad to see the back of it.

Best of times? ...having a deliciously, competent, and fascinating midlife Monsieur conduct our job readiness course. Too true.

Worst of times? ...having to go through another job readiness course - six months later - with a vicious, backstabbing  Barbie Doll  as class facilitator (I kid you not).

I was told that many of the agency's employees, are not guaranteed ongoing work, and will shortly - more than likely - find themselves in the same unemployment queue as me! Such is life. And come July 1, Centrelink has informed all "orphaned" jobseekers that they'll be required to choose a new Job Services (jobactive) Provider.

Stakeholders

The Saturday Paper reports that US company MAX Solutions, now dominates the “welfare business” in Australia - having secured more than a quarter of the 51 Work for the Dole co-ordinator roles tendered last year for the jobactive scheme. 

MAX Solutions is an Australian business subsidiary of controversial government services provider Maximus, whose annual revenue in 2014 was more than $US1.7 billion. Questionable aspects of its operations were outlined in The Jobs Game, a February 2015 edition of ABC's Four Corners.

MAX Solutions already held the largest share of Australia’s employment and disability employment services market.  It earned $800 million from the federal government over the past five years under its existing employment department contracts.

In a joint venture with Mission Australia, another US company Mission Providence, picked up the other sizeable share of the Work for the Dole co-ordinator contracts that form the new jobactive model.

On the company website, Mission Providence is described as “a national leader in the management and provision of the highest-quality human social services”,  with its 2013 annual report recording that its “revenue rose modestly to over $US1.1 billion, net income more than doubled to $US19.4 million”.

So maybe a fast tracked (bona fide) recruitment/social services qualification is the way to go then? But will the new jobactive regime offer me a training opportunity that'll parachute me into a lucrative unemployment industries job? (or even a "work-for-the-dole" opportunity in the "job placement" sector?) I don’t think so. Although as a Newstart recipient, I guess I’m a stakeholder of sorts.

The new system

Meantime, the key changes to be implemented in jobactive include:
  • fewer jobseeker classifications, determined according to level of disadvantage and length of unemployment;
  • a requirement for jobseekers to look for 40 jobs a month (yet to be confirmed), in addition to the current requirement they apply for 20 a month; and,
  • a reduction in the number of employment service providers from which the government accepts tenders, from 79 to 44, thus consolidating those it considers the best performers.

Key elements include:
  • Job Commitment Bonus programme to encourage young, long-term unemployed job seekers aged 18-30 to find and keep a job;
  • Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job programme for eligible job seekers to receive financial assistance if they move to a regional area to take up a job;
  • Restart programme will encourage businesses to employ mature age job seekers
  • Work for the Dole to help job seekers to learn new skills and remain socially active and engaged while looking for work

Sounds like the old system . . .with new curtains

In jobactive terms "any training that job seekers do will be relevant to what local employers need, and real job opportunities".  And so no doubt, as a jobactive unemployee (aka cash cow) I won't be surprised if I'm required to: 

1) undertake yet another job readiness course - that they'll tell me is different to the other two (but won't be)  

2) undertake another compulsory online course "of my choosing" (oh really?) - which has zero relevance and credibility. 

Desired outcomes

So in the Unemployment Industry of Australia, everything old is unremarkably new again. Admittedly, a Job Services Australia employee did once candidly inform me, that the sole purpose of their compulsory job readiness training programs, was to drive participants to such a level of crazed hysteria, that even a dubious pole-dancing vacancy in Nhill, would seem a valid and positive employment option.  They've succeeded in getting that part right.



Related link

JobActive Aspire to Under-employment



Image: via flickr

4 comments:

  1. I'm to understand there are also new compliance measures. Your job network provider can breach you for missing an appointment. You loose your benefit and once reinstated you no longer get the back pay your entitled too. Even if you have a reasonable excuse like being incapacitated in hospital and unable to phone through in time.

    Never fear there are employment opportunities in abundance if you fancy yourself in a uniform and like toting a gun.

    Big winners of the Budget are border protection and immigration. Plenty of new staff running around with guns to keep an eye on our borders and keep the nasties out. The brand new Australian Border Force agency will comprise between 5500 to 6000 officers within a couple of years, mainly armed, and potentially hundreds of new staff to be hired. Do you fancy yourself in uniform toting a shiny new gun? perhaps that's preferable to a skimpy suit and a shiny pole for pole dancing.

    I believe being sports obsessed and having the ability to consume large quantities of alcohol whilst telling sordid, tawdry, smutty and highly inappropriate jokes would get you short listed if it didn't get you fast tracked into the position.

    The fun times just keep rolling on don't they.

    Look out! grannies got a gun!



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    1. thanks for the comment. I'm probably only handy with tossing the odd egg over the fence - so I don't expect to be short-listed.

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  2. The enormous investment in upgrading the IT infrastructure that underpins our social security sector is all about greater compliance and capturing fraud. Despite the many investigations into welfare fraud concluding that those people are on the fringes rather than the majority. The amount of money spent by the government to catch these people is enormous. The amount of money saved is a pittance. But the real problem is the vast majority of genuine Newstart recipients whose lives will be made so much more difficult, entrenching them further into poverty to satisfy a governments ideological reasoning with absolutely no evidence behind it.

    The Government’s worldview is clear - those who are in need of help should be met with distrust.

    The wage subsidy program another policy adopted from NewZealand and which had clear evidence that employers recycled the unemployed by creating short term poorly paid positions. Giving the government an opportunity to claim the unemployment was down and shoring up votes from the ignorant public to secure their position and keep their own jobs.

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    1. It's just so frustrating to realize how much government money will be funnelled into Max Solutions (& others) piggy banks. Will be interesting to see if the same redundant "training programs" will continue to be enforced.

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