Access to wage subsidy a helping hand

by Stephanie Zillman04 Jul 2012

Australia’s skills shortage continues to alarm business leaders, HR strategic thinkers and the federal government – recent projections indicate Australia will need an additional 40,000 workers in the resources sector alone before 2020.

The federal government announced in last year’s budget its incentive for employers to hire long-term unemployed people. The program sees employers paid subsidies at the average rate of the dole for six months, as part of a drive to get 10,000 people back into the workforce.

Despite the $233m investment to break long-term welfare dependence, the ABS recorded reluctance by employers to hire the long-term unemployed.

A recent survey shed light on the common misconceptions believed by employers, and US based SmartRecruiters found that 82% of recruiters, hiring managers and HR professionals agreed there was an inherent prejudice towards the long-term unemployed. There appears to be an unwritten rule that unemployed candidates aren’t qualified, Jerome Ternynck from SmartRecruiters commented. “Our survey revealed that 55% of recruiters and HR managers have ‘personally experienced resistance’ when presenting qualified yet unemployed candidates to clients/colleagues,” Ternyck said.

The survey also showed that 29% of hiring managers believe that unemployed job seekers are “unemployed for a reason” and 23% said unemployed job seekers are “probably not qualified”.

Yet one business leader, Isabelle Englund-Geiger of Benz Communications, said she interviews unemployed candidates for every available position. “Discarding currently-unemployed candidates is very short-sighted. If we didn’t equally evaluate unemployed candidates, we would have missed out on many of our most successful hires, including our office manager, a senior-level bi-lingual writer and some of our top consultants,” Englund-Geiger said.

Wage Connect

The federal government’s wage subsidy, Wage Connect, can help you offset the costs of wages and training for new employees for the first six months they are in the job. You may be eligible to receive a subsidy of approximately $5,700 for each job placement, or around $220 per week (pre-GST). The subsidy may be paid for longer in some circumstances.

What types of jobs can I offer?

You can offer any type of suitable work, as long as it:

  • is ongoing and sustainable and for at least 26 weeks
  • is under open employment conditions
  • guarantees the Wage Connect participant a weekly award based wage (for example, no commission based or subcontracting type positions)
  • is full-time — part-time positions can be offered in some circumstances.

How is the subsidy paid?

To claim the subsidy you’ll need to submit to an employment services provider evidence of the employment, including details of hours worked and wages paid. An employment services provider can provide you with further information on how and when to submit this evidence, as well as what information to include.

For more information on the subsidy, visit the wage subsidy fact page here.


  • by in the wings 12/07/2012 5:41:36 PM

    It is incorrect to compare American findings with Australia in this instance. It is my experience with long term unemployed in Australia that most (not all) do not want a job as it interferes with their lifestyle too much.If unemployment benefits were reduced or had a time limit we would have less unemployment than we do now. There is only so much employers can do to make jobs appealing to those who really don't want to work for a living.

  • by Jody Jackson 13/07/2012 2:01:25 PM

    What an ignorant comment to have made, in the wings. You have probably never experienced the crushing blows of being repeatedly knocked back, interview after interview. This kind of opinion is exactly the sort of ignorance that tars all unemployed people with the same brush.

  • by Shane Higgins 13/07/2012 2:08:52 PM

    I find it amazing that hirers would not consider an unemployed person "because they are unemployed for a reason". I would think many CEO's of companies, if aware of this ridiculous practice, would have something to say. There is a myriad of reasons people are unemployed and many of them are not at all negative. Some have decided to move on from where they were, some may have been overseas and returned, some parenting duties for a period, and the list goes on. To work on this theory is to reduce your applicant pool considerably and shows an ignorance beyond belief.
    I own a job board for older jobseekers and some of these jobseekers are in the category of long term unemployed, not because they want to be, not because it interferes with their lifestyle; they don't have one. Certainly some long term unemployed are in that position because they chose to be, but I would argue not many.

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