Australia's employment system is ‘broken’, new analysis of the labour market shows

Construction workers are seen in Sydney, Thursday, May 16, 2019 Source: AAP

Anglicare Australia's latest Jobs Availability Snapshot says the country’s labour market is in need of significant reform.


Australia's employment system is "broken", according to new analysis of the labour market.

Anglicare Australia's Jobs Availability Snapshot 2019 found one in seven jobseekers face barriers when it comes to finding work - such as those who didn’t finish Year 12, or older workers who lost their jobs later in life - and it takes them an average of five years to find a job.

The analysis also found just 10 per cent of vacancies advertised in May this year were suitable for someone without qualifications or work experience.

Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers said for each of those entry-level positions, there are at least five disadvantaged jobseekers competing for it.

The data makes it clear Australia's employment system needs to be reviewed, she said.

"We really need to look at an urgent reform of the Jobactive Network – that is a finding of the government's own reports, as well.

“We need to end these punitive approaches and look at what works, which means actually working with the person to understand what they can do, what they want to do, what training they want and what they are capable of, and matching that to a job in their area."

The data shows the government's rhetoric that the best form of welfare is a job is out of touch with reality, Ms Chambers said.

"One of the best ways not to be in poverty is to have a well-paid, full-time job.

“However, we've got 1.1 million Australians who don't have a well-paid, full-time job.”

Centrelink signage at the Yarra branch in Melbourne.

Disability, refugee communities face big challenges

Anglicare's analysis shows people with a disability now account for 68 per cent of disadvantaged job seekers.

Romola Hollywood, Director of Policy and Advocacy at People with Disability Australia, said the results were unsurprising.

"We know that quite a number of people with disability have been forced off the Disability Support Pension and onto Newstart because of tightening eligibility requirements,” she said.

Anglicare recommends giving all people living with a disability automatic access to the Disability Employment Service when they begin looking for work, as well as broadening the eligibility requirements for the Disability Support Pension.

But Ms Hollywood said it should go further, and is calling for the development of a disability-specific national jobs plan.

The plan would need to begin by looking at how young people living with a disability are supported through the education system, from primary school into tertiary and vocational education.

"It might look like employers are providing employment opportunities - but what employers really need to do to make their workplace disability-friendly,” she said.

“Any plan should also look at the kinds of flexibilities that might need to be built into the employment relationship so that if people need some time off, for example, that can be easily accessed.”

 The job section within the Herald Sun newspaper
The job section within the Herald Sun newspaper

Sherrine Clark, Director of Humanitarian Services at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, said refugees and asylum seekers face also face specific challenges finding work.

Any previous experience they accrued overseas is often not recognised in the Australian system, she said.

“It is incredibly difficult for people to be able to find work without those connections in the community, without the qualifications, without that experience.

“The basic level of support they are given is generally not enough to provide them with opportunities to go and actively look for work, engage in higher education, or getting their qualifications recognised in Australia. "

The federal government has been contacted for comment.

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