Transition to Work Program Fails Unemployed Young People
Our new report reveals that Australia’s Transition to Work Program fails unemployed young people by prioritising profit over effective outcomes.
Recently, the National Youth Commission Australia released a report resulting from the Inquiry into Youth Employment and Transitions, A Youth Employment Services Guarantee: Making youth employment services fit for purpose. The report recommended that all young people aged 15-24 years who require it should receive employment support from the Transition to Work (TtW) program.
The TtW program provides intensive, pre-employment support to young people to improve their work readiness and help them into work or education. The program targets young people aged 15-24 years who are not in education or training and have been unemployed for at least three months.
A Youth Employment Services Guarantee also supported a return to employment services that are accountable to the unemployed people they serve, either delivered by a public sector organisation or organisations that have a culture of service to the public. The Commission also recommended limits to profit-taking by employment service providers. These recommendations were based on the significant research that suggests that the marketisation of human services generally has resulted in reduced quality of service and a focus on minimising costs.
It is, therefore, with a degree of dismay that the Commission noted the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s announcement of the tender results for delivering the TtW program from 1 July 2022. The number of for-profit organisations delivering the program will increase from four to nine, while the number of not-for-profit organisations providing the program will fall from 39 to 26. The number of organisations providing the program will reduce from 41 to 35.
Fifteen organisations with no previous experience of the program will commence TtW from 1 July 2022, including large for-profit organisations such as RNTT Pty Ltd and Serendipity Pty Ltd. Of the 15 new organisations, six are for-profit that will provide TtW in 11 employment regions. The nine new not-for-profit providers will provide TtW in 11 employment regions also.
Twenty organisations that are currently offering TtW will continue to do so, although not always in the same regions. For example, SYC Ltd has TtW programs in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Mt Gambier (SA), which will transfer to new providers. SYC Ltd will open a new TtW program in Queensland.
Twenty-four organisations will cease providing TtW from 1 July 2022. The Commission does not know how many of these organisations submitted a tender to continue offering the program. The Commission is concerned that so many organisations leaving the program represents a substantial loss of knowledge and experience.
The results of the TtW tender process continues the process of shifting employment services to large for-profit enterprises that commenced in 1998. This ongoing process is despite the numerous criticisms levelled at the system by job seekers, employers, welfare agencies and policy-makers, including a Senate Committee report entitled Jobactive: failing those it is intended to serve.
The Commission is disappointed that the Australian Government continues to follow a tender process that fails the people it is meant to serve. Employment services provided to vulnerable young people should be individually tailored to assist them to effectively transition into the labour force. The Commission does not believe this will occur under the current system that prioritises profit over effective outcomes.