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Tuesday, 5 May 1987
Page: 2571

Mrs DARLING —I ask the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations to address a couple of concerns expressed by the Queensland electorate. First, what is the future of the community employment program, which is very popular in Queensland? Secondly, what programs and/or policies does he and his Department have for groups with special needs-I refer to unemployed people in the 40-plus age group, women and Aborigines-particularly in respect of training, retraining or work experience?

Mr WILLIS —The community employment program has been important in the sense that it has addressed important needs of the people who are long term unemployed. It is not the only program which has addressed that task. We also implemented the Jobstart program, which similarly provides assistance for long term unemployed people in the private sector. So there have been two arms to the process of addressing the job creation needs of long term unemployed people. However, the Government's effort goes beyond simply providing job creation. We have also been concerned where possible to provide longer term unemployed people with training opportunities. In that respect, we have developed the adult training program. That program in particular has been an important means of providing retraining to unemployed people who have been unemployed for six of the previous nine months and giving them a capacity to obtain a skill that will give them a better chance of obtaining work in the ordinary labour market. So, rather than aiming just at job creation, we are trying to give people skills that will make them more able to obtain jobs that currently exist.

We have a situation in the labour market at present where, despite a still substantial level of unemployment of a little over 8 per cent, job vacancies are being caused by a shortage of skills in quite a number of areas. Part of the Government's aim in addressing the problem of unemployment is to ensure that people are given the skills to enable them to take up those jobs. We have also introduced the community training program. That program is addressed to those with special difficulties-the very long term unemployed and others such as those mentioned by the honourable member for Lilley-who have particular problems, over and above the problems of those who are just unemployed, in getting jobs in the labour market.

The community training program has been a very substantial program which we have developed. There are over 70 projects around Australia and every one I have visited has been commendable and has great support, not only from the Government but also from community organisations which sponsor it and provide a substantial amount of the money. There is a combined approach by the Government to tackling the difficulties of longer term unemployed people and disadvantaged people generally in the labour market. This involves a combination of job creation and training. In the last year or so we have put greater emphasis, it must be said, on the training side. That is a trend that prob- ably will continue in the future.