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Report calls for employment services to be more responsive

21 December 20180 comments

A new federal government report aimed at helping reshape employment services in Australia has recognised the need for tailored and intensive job services for disadvantaged jobseekers, including those from culturally diverse backgrounds.

The ‘Future of Employment Services Report’, commissioned by the Department of Jobs and Small Business, has come up with a “reform vision” for job services that includes: a targeted and tailored service for job seekers; providing better and more tailored assistance to employers, and; increasing the level of support available to disadvantaged job seekers.

It also recommends a flexible approach to “activating” jobseekers, which recognises and rewards achievement rather than focusing on enforcing consistent ongoing obligations. The report also champions an approach that is tailored to local areas.

Compiled by The Social Research Centre, the report said the employment services system needed to recognise and adapt to a changing labour market.

“The decrease in the availability of full-time work in entry level positions and the increase in contracting arrangements through the gig economy has changed the way people interact with the labour market. Stakeholders feel this should be reflected in the new model,” the report said.

It found that stakeholders wanted to see a more holistic approach to servicing and providing assistance, with an employment service that is integrated with other social services.

“This would allow employment services to provide job seekers with information and access to other social services needed, assisting job seekers with all their needs,” the report said.

“Job seekers in particular highlighted the need for a more personalised in-depth servicing and support from consultant, with time spent discussing needs and circumstances rather than a cursory discussion to check compliance and progress,” it said.

The report identified a desire to see an employment service that adapts to regional variations in labour markets, emphasises stronger relationships with local communities and facilitates place-based solutions to employment.

And it found broad support for a provider licensing model that would see an end to a crowded market and a level of competition hinders collaboration and potentially limits diversity and innovation.

“Providers also desired greater stability in the market through longer term contracts/licenses. They felt this would assist with staff retention, and improving the quality of employment service consultants,” the report said.

The report also canvased the potential of digital technology to assist job seekers, employers and service providers but it identified concerns about accessibility and usability of digital services a fear of isolation from human interaction that could result.

“Most supported the idea of a blended service, providing the best from both service types,” the report said.

It said job seekers were concerned about not being able to access these services because of a lack access to smart phones and other devices, the cost of data use online and a lack of digital skills to navigate services and apps.

The report found employers and community services supporting job seekers wanted more ongoing post-placement support to ensure the needs of employers, and the job seekers they hire, are better understood.