Criticism of Work for Dole as a distraction for young people seeking career jobs has been dismissed by an industry expert.
Criticism of Work for Dole as a distraction for young people seeking career jobs has been dismissed by an industry expert. Lou O'Brien

Industry expert says job seekers to be better off in long run

WORKING for the dole is a great way for people to learn the basics of holding down a job, says the general manager of employment service TURSA.

General manager Debbie Fry said TURSA's experience with work for the dole in its previous incarnation had been positive and she expected the new Federal Government version to be the same.

Assistant employment minister Luke Hartsuyker said the government plans to invest $5.1 billion over three years from 2015-16 to reinvigorate employment services for the benefit of job seekers and employers.

The new job placement program, to begin on July 1, 2015, will require job seekers to look for 40 jobs a month and perform up to 25 hours of community service.

Under the government's expanded work for the dole plans, unemployed people aged up to 49 will have to perform some work for payments.

Job seekers younger than 30 would have to work 25 hours a week under the expanded program, while those between 30 and 49 will be asked to do 15 hours' work a week.

Those aged 50-60 will undertake 15 hours a week of an approved activity, such as training.

Ms Fry said the new program would help make young people more employable.

"Work for the Dole bridges the gap between being on unemployment benefits and getting into the workforce," Ms Fry said.

"For young people who've never had a job before it's their first experience of work.

"When it's your first time in work you have to learn skills like punctuality, teamwork, communication skills and getting on with people.

"It also allows young people to get local references they're able to use with local employers."

Ms Fry dismissed criticism of Work for Dole as a distraction for young people seeking career jobs.

"In my experience we work alongside clients in Work for the Dole," she said. "While they're getting work experience we can be marketing them to potential employers."

She said it was too early to say what the effect of the requirement on job seekers would be.

"It's early days so far," she said. "I expect we'll see some clarifications on those guidelines.

"What I would like to say is that the requirement is for 40 job searches a month.

"I don't think that means 40 20-page job applications. I think they expect the job applications to match the skills of the applicants."

Research on Work for the Dole is not as positive.

A 2004 paper by Jeff Borland and Yi-Ping Tseng of Melbourne University suggests that "there appear to be quite large significant adverse effects of participation in (Work for the Dole)".

"The main reason is that participation in the program diverts participants from job seeking activity towards Work for the Dole activity. Research on similar programs internationally has come up with comparable findings."



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