If you’ve been following the Federal election campaign, you’ve probably heard Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull referring to the Government’s national economic plan for jobs and growth.
With last week’s announcement of a review of the non-permanent resident tax rate to backpackers, I found myself reflecting on not just the economic but also social issues that impact on job opportunities being available across Western New South Wales.
When representing the people of the Federal electorate of Parkes, I hear different stories when it comes to employment. I hear of local businesses and farmers struggling to find people to work for them. I also hear from a range of people, particularly younger people, struggling to find employment in their local towns.
It begs the question why can’t our local businesses and farmers just employ these local people looking for work? Unfortunately, it is not that simple.
In regards to employment, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Essentially this is an area where you are dealing with people’s livelihoods: either as small businesses or farm owners, or as employees just trying to make a living for themselves and their families.
This is particularly relevant when it comes to youth employment. Local businesses and farmers need young, motivated employees who can undertake training and do the work that needs to be done. But unfortunately there are bigger issues at play that impact on this.
I have always said that there is nothing more stabilising for a family than employment. The difference between a young person seeing a parent undertake regular, secure employment versus a young person who never witnesses their parent going to work is evident in their approach to getting a job.
As a society we need to acknowledge that what seems very commonplace for some, including waking up in the morning, getting dressed, having breakfast and getting to work on time, is in fact very foreign to others in society.
One initiative to help overcome this is the Government’s investment of $840.3 million over four years in a Youth Employment Package. This will assist up to 120,000 vulnerable young people take advantage of job opportunities as the economy diversifies and transitions to broader-based growth.
The new measures will go some way to boosting young people’s job prospects by helping them to be better prepared for the workplace and encouraging more businesses to open the door to them.
At the core of the package is the Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare-Trial-Hire), a $751.7 million initiative to help maximise the chances of job seekers under 25 getting a job. The programme will involve three flexible stages.
Firstly, employability skills training will begin on 1 April 2017 to help prepare young job seekers for the workplace. The training will help young people better understand what employers expect of them and give them the skills, attitudes and behaviours required to be successful in a job.
Secondly, from 1 April 2017, up to 30,000 young job seekers each year will be eligible to undertake an internship placement of 4 to 12 weeks. The internships will be voluntary and provide incentives of $1,000 upfront to a business to host an intern and a $200 fortnightly payment to job seekers on top of their income support.
Thirdly, from 1 January 2017 a Youth Bonus wage subsidy of between $6,500 and $10,000 will be available to businesses who take on an eligible young job seeker. As part of this measure, existing wage subsidies (including those for youth, parents, indigenous and mature-age workers, and the long-term unemployed) will be streamlined, making them easier for employers to access.
I am confident that these three initiatives – pre-employment training, real work experience and wage subsidies – will help put young people on a positive pathway to finding and keeping a job, as we work towards growing our new economy.