Friday, 10 January 2014

There is an inevitable

article about "New Start" in the paper this morning. For those of you who don't know "New Start" is an Australian Government scheme for the unemployed. People get put on the "New Start Allowance" and they are then expected to actively seek employment and attend job interviews as required - and they have to be able to show they are doing this. At one time our local shopping centre was inundated by young job seekers walking in and out and asking if there were any vacancies. Often when they had done the requisite number in a day the young ones would gather in corners and commiserate with each other.
New Start will also send people on "training courses". There are the ultra basic courses on how to present yourself for interview - and yes, some people do need to be told that they need to turn up looking neat, clean and tidy even if they are looking for the most humble of positions. 
There are also other standard courses. "Food service" is something almost everyone who has been unemployed for any length of time needs to do. "Food service" means training in anything from being able to work in "fast food" pizza type places to bar work to working in the sort of establishment that does not get Michelin stars but may still serve good food.
I know people who have done this course and, on the whole, I would not want to be served by them. They are nice enough people but they will never be fast on their feet or deft with their hands. The only thing to be said for them is that they could do the job far better than I could. (I couldn't do it at all but then nobody would expect me to do it.)
There is also the "cleaning" course - obviously where people are supposedly taught to clean hotel, motel, hospital and other buildings. Again you need the physical capacity to work industrial cleaners.
Another standard course is the "care workers" course. This is the basic course for working as assistants in aged care homes and group houses for people with disabilities. The people who work as assistants are those who are expected to do things like make beds and clean up after the inevitable "accidents". Yes, you need the physical capacity to do those things too.
I believe New Start does offer a course to some people in setting up their own business - but how many people looking for employment would have the financial means to set up a business even if they had an outstanding proposal?
Like many other government programmes New Start probably started with good intentions. Like many other government programmes it has also been hedged around with so many rules and regulations it is ineffective and inefficient.
The jobs may not be there anyway. There were 82 applicants for a receptionist position at a local business recently. Even "volunteer" positions at the local charity shop now require application, an interview, a police check and a training course.
I wonder about things like New Start and similar programmes elsewhere in the world. I suspect that what we need here at least is a very much more flexible workforce. Unless that happens then I cannot see too many people getting a "New Start".  

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