People need both decent income support and training whilst we create more jobs

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) welcomes today’s announcement by the Federal Government of a $2 billion JobsTraining package, as a positive next step to addressing the huge scale of the unemployment crisis we now face, with 1.6 million people of all ages now on unemployment payments.

The official unemployment rate is now 7.4% but, as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned, when people who don’t have paid work but have stopped looking are also included (which is many people on Jobkeeper), the figure is over 13%.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “ACOSS has been calling for a three prong approach to responding to the dramatic job losses and rising unemployment, with a focus on skills and training a crucial element.”

“The national economic recovery strategy must firstly, protect people with adequate income support who have been hit by unemployment so that they can cover the basics, secondly, invest to create good jobs, as quickly and safely as possible, and thirdly, provide comprehensive employment support including skills and training to help people back into jobs, especially those most at risk of long term unemployment.”

“Today’s announcement will go some way to boosting skills and training but with 1.6 million people already on unemployment payments, 250,000 people leaving school next year, and 360,000 workers stood down and potentially unemployed, much more will be needed to help people of all ages to develop the new skills needed in the post-Covid economy.”

ACOSS has also been calling for the 700,000 people who are on Jobseeker and Youth Allowance long-term (6 months if under 25, 12-24 months if over 25) to be offered a ‘jobs and training guarantee’, including paid work experience at award wages, vocational training and other intensive support, based on individual circumstances and need.

‘Given that most of those who have lost their jobs are women employed in services, it’s also vital that a sizeable share of the extra support for training (including apprenticeships) goes to service sector jobs, including in non-profit social service organisations. This cannot all be about hard hats nor limited to the business sector.”

“We will be looking to next week’s economic statement to deliver on the other two elements of our response: a strong recovery in employment and a substantial rise in Jobseeker payments for the almost 2 million who will likely continue to need income support to cover the basics beyond September.”

“The Government must not consign people suffering the misfortune of unemployment to the old $40 a day of Newstart. It must deliver a permanent, adequate increase to Job Seeker, the unemployment payment, for the sake of those directly affected and to maintain vital support to the economy,” concluded Dr Goldie.

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