The 2015–16 Federal Budget included provision for a new government-funded Youth Employment Strategy, which is designed to give young people the skills and assistance to get into the workforce.
The new Youth Employment Strategy has been allocated $330
million in funding in order to help specific groups of young people transition into
work; it aims to stave off the risk of long-term unemployment for young people
who are in danger of becoming welfare dependent.
The funding will cover a $212 million Youth Transition to
Work program, which will help young people who are disengaged from work. Under
this program support will be provided by community-based organisations that
already have a proven track record in assisting youth to help young people ‘find
and maintain’ a job, an apprenticeship or a traineeship. Support for young
people in this category could include one-on-one mentoring, confidence
building, literacy and numeracy training, as well as help to overcome personal
barriers to entering the workforce or education.
In addition to the Youth Transition to Work program, there
will also be a $14 million Early School Leavers program and Intensive Support
Trials for Vulnerable Job Seekers ($106 million). This last program will
include assistance for disadvantaged young people with mental health concerns
as well as vulnerable young migrants.
The Youth Employment Strategy replaces, in some measure, the
Youth Connections program that had similar aims and was highly successful.
Commentators in the social sector have voiced their concerns about the gap in
assistance for young people: Youth Connections had its funding withdrawn last
December and it will be several months before the Youth Employment Strategy is
up and running, leaving young people in limbo with no current assistance. For
example, CEO of Mission Australia, Catherine Yeomans, said: ‘We could have made
a seamless transition from Youth Connections to a new program rather than
losing staff through redundancies, and losing skills and expertise from the
sector. But at least the government has recognised its mistake’.