Parliamentary inquiry calls for support for refugee, migrant jobseekers
A program to support recently arrived refugee jobseekers gain recognition of their overseas qualifications and English language programs that are tailored to the needs of newly arrived migrant and refugee jobseekers are among the recommendations of a Victorian parliamentary report into employment for disadvantaged jobseekers.
The report also recommended the continuation of the Jobs Victoria Employment Network along with changes to its funding model, expansion of training opportunities at Learn Locals and Aboriginal-controlled organisations, and widespread adoption of social procurement across local government.
The Victorian Legislative Assembly Economy and Infrastructure Committee’s report also recommended the co-design and co-development of employment programs with employers and jobseekers and the development of a youth employment strategy and regional skills demand profiles.
Another recommendation is that governments ensure outcomes‑based funding models for employment services do not discourage providers from working with these harder‑to‑place individuals.
Listed among the 70 recommendations was: “That the Department of Education and Training work with English language program providers to develop and support delivery modes tailored to the varied needs of newly arrived migrant and refugee jobseekers”.
And, “that the Victorian Government pilot a program to support recently arrived refugee jobseekers gain recognition of their overseas qualifications using the evaluation findings of the Department of Social Services’ Career Pathways Pilot for Humanitarian Entrants to inform the program’s operation.”
The committee found personal circumstances can limit some jobseekers’ access to opportunities and resources that could improve their employment prospects.
“Disadvantage is reinforced when these limits combine with barriers set up by non-inclusive recruitment and workplace practices and structural barriers such as a weak labour market, limited access to services and poor employment services provision,” the report said.
The committee found the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will exacerbate employment barriers for jobseekers facing disadvantage and make searching for work more competitive.
And it recognised the impact of COVID-19 will increases the urgency of implementing measures to avoid the scarring effect of long-term unemployment for these jobseekers.
The report’s recommendations are aimed at removing or alleviating employment barriers to give disadvantaged jobseekers a better chance to find and retain work, which will result in social and economic benefits for themselves, their families and society more broadly.
“The Victorian Government’s Jobs Victoria Employment Network (JVEN) acknowledges the complex nature of these employment barriers and seeks to address the shortcomings of the Australian Government’s jobactive program to effectively deal with them,” the report said.
“JVEN, which started in 2016, aims to provide wraparound support to jobseekers facing disadvantage in a flexible and collaborative way. Most stakeholders praised this approach and there was strong support for JVEN to continue, albeit with some tweaks to its funding model to improve employment outcomes,” it said.
“JVEN was originally funded until 2020 and the Committee recommends continuing its funding when the State Budget is delivered,” the report said.
It said that the Victorian Government’s Social Procurement Framework also showed great potential for improving employment outcomes for jobseekers facing disadvantage.
“The high number of employment barriers, be they individual, employer‑related or structural, indicates there are many facets of joblessness that need to be addressed and the solutions require collaboration between jobseekers, employers, employment services providers, support services, training providers and each tier of government,” the report said.
“Greater collaboration and support will also improve the experience for employers and help them to provide sustainable employment opportunities to jobseekers facing disadvantage. This is essential in the current labour market where businesses will face challenges to re‑establish themselves and their workforces in the aftermath of the Coronavirus disease (COVID‑19) pandemic,” it said.
The committee concluded that jobseekers facing disadvantage require early and intensive intervention to prevent joblessness.
“Developing work readiness can be a difficult and lengthy process for highly disadvantaged jobseekers and the Victorian Government must ensure outcomes‑based funding models for employment services do not discourage providers from working with these harder‑to‑place individuals,” it said.
“It became evident to the committee that better support at school before students enter the workforce could help prevent some employment barriers from taking hold at such a critical point in young people’s lives. The committee supports the continuation of the Victorian Government’s efforts to improve school career development and sees further opportunities to improve students’ access to work experience and individualised career guidance,” the report said.
The committee said a whole‑of‑government approach was needed to address structural barriers to employment such as public transport shortfalls, poor digital connectivity and access to training and work opportunities.
It said the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic will intensify the employment barriers disadvantaged jobseekers face and create more competition for the fewer jobs available, making the report’s recommendations even more urgent.