Working for welfare top-ups: Business sector offers 10,000 internships for young people

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced the biggest take up of the Coalition's voluntary internship program with 10,000 places on offer from retail businesses around the country.

Young people aged 15 to 24 will be trained up under the federal government's PaTH program, with the Australian Retailers Association pledging its support and 10,000 places.

"They could go on to, like many others before them, running big businesses, owning big businesses and employing lots of other people, realising their dreams," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.

Employment Minister, Michaelia Cash, said the internship program is about at getting young people job-ready.

"When we say that the best form of welfare is a job, we mean it, and we will put both the resources and the programs behind it," she said.

The internship scheme offers businesses who take on interns an upfront payment of $1,000 while those taking part will be offered $200 a fortnight on top of their regular welfare payments.

Placements are between four to 12 weeks, with the job seeker expected to work 15 to 25 hours per week.

Retailers Battery World, Coffee Club, BrightEyes as well as Bakers Delight have all signed on to the program and will start placing interns over coming months, according to the Herald Sun

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman told SBS World News that many can find it difficult to get retail work without having at least some practical experience. 

"Our retailers are already major employers of young people and the PaTH internships will now provide another way that employers can give young people a go so that they can develop their skills and experience," Mr Zimmerman said. 

"It's not just a place to start work but can deliver a hugely successful career with some of Australia's most successful business people starting on the shop floor," he said.  

The Australian Council of Trade Unions President Ged Kearney said the program was a 'kick in the guts' for average retail workers, who just had their penalty rates slashed on Sunday.

"This is exploitation, this is a government-sanctioned program that actually borders on slavery," she said.

"They cut the penalty rates of their good loyal employees and now they have taken up with gusto a program where they can get young unemployed kids for nothing."

-With AAP

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