One of the initiatives that came out of the Budget 2016-17 was the Prepare-Trial-Hire (PaTH) Programme, designed to help young job-seekers move off welfare and into employment. The Government plans to invest $752 million into this, will it work?
PaTH consists of a three week pre-employment skills training plan and an internship for job-seekers registered with a job-active provider.
The training plan is designed to teach job-seekers skills that will be valuable to them in a workplace. For example, teamwork and organisation. The goal is for them to use those skills to transition into employment easily.
The internship is then supposed to help them to gain real work experience by undertaking a 4-12 week internship placement with the hopes that it will lead to permanent employment.
PaTH is voluntary for job-seekers, however if they participate, they’ll receive an extra $200 per fortnight on top of their income support payment. The business who chooses to take them on will also receive an upfront payment of $1,000, plus a ‘bonus wage subsidy’ for hiring this young job-seeker. This amount depends on how ready the particular job-seeker is.
So let’s go through the good stuff:
The internship part is where it gets murky, as there is scope for exploitation.
Because of the upfront payment and bonus businesses will be receiving, they could potentially start treating interns as disposable, employing and replacing when the each serves out their term.
Businesses could also potentially just stop hiring permanent staff, instead having interns and paying the reduced wages with the cash incentive.
There’s also scope for unfair treatment. Being placed in a workplace where you know nobody is always daunting, and there are times when you may find it hard to get along with people. Interns are more at risk for unfair treatment and they may also find themselves in a ‘sink’ situation, depending on the workplace.
How about the people who do not meet the threshold to be eligible to participate? A lot might miss out on this chance to move off benefits and into jobs. And what about current workers, who have to spend time and resources training interns as they come through? Is the Programme going to hinder productivity?
The Programme is a good idea, and with some refining to make sure risks are minimised, it could really be an effective way to target youth unemployment.
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