Government jobs program falls 95 per cent short of target
A federal government program designed to get older Australians back into work has been branded a dismal failure, with only 1700 people joining the scheme meant to benefit 32,000.
Department of Employment documents reveal just 1735 people took advantage of the Restart scheme in its first year of operation – about 5 per cent of the government’s target.
Announced with much fanfare in the 2014 budget, the program provides a wage subsidy of up to $10,000 to employers who give jobs to people aged over 50 who have been unemployed for more than six months.
Labor said the program is clearly missing the mark. Advertisement “It’s the government’s program that needs a restart as it’s proving to be a dismal failure,” opposition spokesman Brendan O’Connor said. “No amount of rhetorical flourish from the Prime Minister can hide the real reason the program doesn’t work – there simply are not the jobs available.”
But Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the government remains “firmly committed” to the program, which is part of a $1 billion investment to establish a single wage subsidy pool.
She said the program has now helped a total of 2500 mature-age workers, including those helped since July 1. “Restart is a demand-driven programme and the government budgeted for a maximum uptake of 32,000,” she said.
Nonetheless, Ms Cash has announced changes designed to improve uptake. The subsidy will now be paid over 12 months rather than 24 and other measures have been taken to reduce complexity and red tape.
Older workers face significant barriers to entering the workforce. On average, they spend 61 weeks on the unemployment queue, compared to 37 weeks for all other people.
“That is why Restart was developed, to give an added incentive to employers to hire a mature-age worker,” Ms Cash said. Both major parties have long struggled to encourage employers to hire mature-age Australians. Indeed, just 230 employers took advantage of a $1000 annual subsidy under the two-year life of the Rudd/Gillard government’s Experience+Jobs Bonus scheme, which was also designed to get over 50s into work. It was meant to benefit up to 10,000 employers.
Source: The Age/Adam Gartrell
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