Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 14 May 1987
Page: 3208

Mr HAND —As the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations would be aware, there are many young school leavers in my electorate who will be affected by the changes to assistance provided for the young unemployed, as announced by the Treasurer last night. Can the Minister provide further details on how this new training program will operate? Can the Minister also say how soon the infrastructure necessary to make this proposal a real alternative for young people will be set in place? Further, I ask the Minister to explain what initiatives the Government is taking to ensure that appropriate jobs will be available for these young people at the conclusion of their training, given the lack of job opportunities which currently exist for this group.

Mr WILLIS —During the Government's period in office it has become increasingly evident that the prospects of young people obtaining employment when they leave school is very much related to the level of their educational skills and the vocational skills that they go on to obtain. Realising that, we have increasingly moved to ensure that young people are given the chance to obtain higher levels of qualifications, when they leave school, or vocational skills.

On the education front there has been an enormous increase in the retention rate of young people through to the Year 12 level of schooling. That has been a major achievement of this Government. The increases in the Austudy allowance have greatly assisted and will assist even more in the future. We have also been concerned to reduce the disincentive for young people to drop out of school into unemployment simply by going out to look for a job and picking up the unemployment benefit. The increase in Austudy has been one aspect, but also the introduction of a job search allowance, as announced by the Treasurer last night is another substantial step in the direction of putting the balance very much in favour of remaining at school rather than going out to work. Those who leave school will not receive any unemployment benefit but will get the job search allowance after some time at a level, unless parental income is low, substantially less than the present unemployment benefit.

It is also part of the strategy that the Government is pursuing to ensure that there are greater training opportunities available for young people. Given that employment prospects are related to vocational skills, it is important that young people who do leave school at a relatively early age do have an opportunity to get training. Therefore the Government has been moving, over the last couple of years, to increase expenditure on training for young people. In last night's statement the Treasurer announced an additional $32m for training for the forthcoming financial year, much of which will be spent on young people. This adds to what was already proposed in respect of other vocational training programs for young people, including trade training programs, the traineeship program and assistance for disadvantaged young people. Altogether, next year, in 1987-88, we will be spending an additional $100m-it is a 50 per cent increase-on training, over half of which will go to young people. So there will be greatly increased opportunities for young people to obtain training in 1987-88.

In addition, there are two other elements which I would like to mention: Firstly, we are expanding the youth access centres which were piloted in Commonwealth Employment Service offices. There are 37 around Australia at present, and they have been very well received. We will be expanding the number of these centres to 100. They will provide a national information, counselling and referral service for young people, which I believe will greatly assist them by providing the kind of advice they need, not only in relation to training and labour market matters but also in the broader spectrum of issues such as education, social security matters and other related issues.

The job search allowance which was announced last night by the Treasurer, is not just a matter of abolishing the unemployment benefit and introducing a job search allowance; it is also a matter of changing the assistance programs for young people. All young unemployed people who have been out of work for six months or more will be subject to intensive assessing and counselling by the CES. There will also be development of new opportunities for structured job search training. Many young people simply are deficient in the skills of even going about finding a job. Evidence here and overseas indicates strongly that they would benefit greatly from structured job search training. We will be instituting that training, probably in various forums, in a way that will assist many young people who have been out of work for some time to improve their job prospects.

Therefore, we will be taking a range of opportunities to assist young people. The Government's strategy for young people has been very successful in improving the education retention rate. It has also increased training opportunities. With the job search allowance and its associated measures, I am sure that in future young people will receive much more assistance in finding a job than they have received in the past.