The PM made the comments during an address to the Queensland Chamber of Commerce last Wednesday, as he outlined a new initiative which will allow people who have been employed for over six months to work for a private company for a month before losing their benefit payments.
“That person can do up to four weeks of work experience with your business, with a private sector business, without losing unemployment benefits so it gives you a chance to have a kind of try-before-you-buy look at unemployed people,” he said. “What we have permitted for the first time in this budget is, if you like, real work for the dole. Work in a business for the dole.”
spoke to Steve Shepherd, employment market analyst at Randstad, about Abbott’s proposed new scheme.
“What they’re suggesting is that the program could be integrated into corporations so that people can get real work experience, as opposed to the current system which places people in more community based programs,” he said.
According to Shepherd, Abbott’s proposed program would be mutually beneficial to employers and the new ‘hires’.
“What we see with people who are long-term unemployed is that gaining relevant work experience is really difficult,” Shepherd told HC
. “I see value in the proposed changes. They offer practical experience that will really help people to get jobs, as opposed to the current program which doesn’t really develop relevant skills.”
“What we see all the time – particularly among young unemployed Australians – is that they can’t find work due to a lack of experience, but they aren’t being given the opportunity to gain that experience either,” he added.
According to Shepherd, the changes to the work for the dole scheme could prove a handy tool for employers.
“In many instances this is an opportunity for companies to see how these people work and build a relationship with them – this is very difficult to do in the traditional hiring method of job interviews,” he said. “Having people work in your office for a month allows you to see how they work and understand their competencies and potential.”
“Through our business, we see many people who are engaged on short term assignments and end up getting offered full time work by employers who have seen what they’re capable of,” he added. “Often casual and temporary work is a stepping stone into full time work, and this is really creating those same kinds of opportunities.”
Shepherd did offer a word of warning, however: that there needs to be a mechanism in place to manage the employees.
“Like all of these things, the key is to make sure people are protected,” he advised. “It could be challenging to ensure that there is no exploitation of the employees; employers would have to make sure they’re monitoring the system so that workers are not just used for cheap labour.”
reported that Abbott’s proposition has already received backlash.
Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition, reportedly said that Abbott’s comments show “how out of touch this prime minister is with the pressure Australians are under”.
“There are 80,000 more Australians out of work now than when Tony Abbott was elected,” Shorten said. “Youth unemployment is at crisis levels… He should be helping young Australians find work, not demonising them.”
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Tony Abbott came under fire last week after stating that employers should “try before they buy” when hiring people who have been unemployed for a prolonged amount of time.