Government 'failing' unqualified jobseekers, says Anglicare

Unqualified jobseekers spend an average of five years looking for work, according to Anglicare's latest jobs report

16 per cent of jobseekers don't have qualifications or work experience.

By Stephen Cauchi

October 16 2019Unqualified jobseekers spend an average of five years looking for work and are competing with at least five others for each job, according to Anglicare Australia’s Jobs Availability Snapshot released Wednesday.

Anglicare also accused the Federal Government of incorrectly suspending the welfare payments of over 100,000 jobseekers on the false grounds they weren’t looking hard enough for work.

The Snapshot measures how many jobs are available for people who don’t have qualifications or work experience. These jobseekers are classified as “stream C” by the Department of Employment and include very young or old jobseekers, as well as those who are indigenous, disabled, or refugee.

As of May 2019, 16 per cent of jobseekers fit into this category, the report found. Each stream C jobseeker spent an average of five years looking for work.

“Our system is failing those who need the most help to find work,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“These might be people with disabilities, who didn’t finish year 12, or older workers who lost their jobs later in life. Our research shows that at least five of these jobseekers are competing for each job at their level.

“By any measure the Jobactive Network is failing. It’s taking an average of five years to find work for those who need the most help.

“There aren’t enough jobs in this [skillset] to meet demand in any part of the country.”

The situation is tougher in some states. In South Australia, nine unqualified jobseekers compete for each suitable job. In Tasmania, a “staggering” fourteen unqualified jobseekers compete for each suitable job, said Anglicare.

In Victoria, four unqualified jobseekers competed for each suitable job.

Ms Chambers said that the Jobactive Network, the Federal Government’s main employment program, was failing those who need help.

“If we’re serious about helping people, we need to create jobs that match their skills – instead of forcing them to compete for jobs that just aren’t there.

“They should be offering training that’s actually linked to work – and supporting people to stay in work once they find it.”

The Government also needed to raise the rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance and offer wider access to the Disability Support pension and Disability Employment services. “Nobody should be trapped in poverty while they look for work,” she said.

“These changes are urgent. If we don’t fix this broken system, we will go on forcing people to compete for jobs that simply do not exist.”

According to the report, of the 744,884 participants in welfare-to-work scheme last financial year, 581,866 had their payments suspended.

However, more than one in five people who had their payments suspended were found not to be at fault, it said.

“There is widespread anecdotal evidence of Jobactive system errors showing that many people are being penalised without having done anything wrong, and suggesting that many are unfairly enduring a loss of income as a result of a flawed system,” said the report.

“Some reported being breached for missing appointments that had not even happened yet. Others were breached after Jobactive providers refused to reschedule appointments that clashed with training, job interviews, or even casual work.

“This is a microcosm of a unique aspect of Australia’s social security system – the punishment of people for flawed, mistake-prone systems.”

Jobactive was punishing jobseekers “for no reason,” said Ms Chambers.

“Many who are cut off from payments by their provider are later found to have done nothing wrong.”