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Could there
be a worse time to be unemployed in Australia?


The plethora
of statistics and policies released in the past month would suggest not.


Earlier this
week the Australian LNP Federal Government, through the
Employment Minister, Luke Hartsuyker

their new proposed AUD$5.1 billion

jobs placement program and expansion of the Work for the
Dole Scheme.


government’s draft changes to unemployment and welfare requirements

  • force
    unemployed Australians to apply for 40 jobs each month in order to
    qualify for benefits
  • mandate that fit and healthy job seekers aged under 30 will have to
    sign up for 25 hours of work for the dole for at least half of each
    year, and

  • those
    aged between 30 and 50, or who are under 30 and have limited
    physical capacity to work, will be expected to do 15 hours of work
    for the dole every six months. 
thinking behind these research-free changes causes evidence-based
analysts and commentators to despair.


deal with work-for-the-dole first.


In 2012
the UK the Department for Work and Pensions released comprehensive

into the effectiveness of the UK Government’s own version
of work-for-the-dole scheme.


As the
National Institute of Economic and Social Research   (UK)


the analysis shows is that the programme as currently structured is not
working. It has no impact on employment; it leads to a small and
transitory reduction in benefit receipt…. the main thrust of
welfare-to-work policy under both this government and the previous one
has been to try to move (dole) claimants closer to the labour market.
MWA (work-for-the-dole) appears to achieve precisely the opposite.’


As Greg

on ABC’s The


Hartsuyker dismissed research on work for the dole that has shown it
doesn’t work and can actually hinder the ability for jobseekers to get a
job as “very old”. This “very old” research covered the Howard

work for the
dole scheme
which the Government lauds as a success.


work-for-the-dole fits with current government’s ideological agenda and
as such, no departmental or independent research was commissioned to
support the spending of $5.1 billion (remember folks, we have a ‘budget
emergency’) of taxpayers’ money.


Let’s now
move on to the greater obligations that unemployed will now have in
order to claim unemployment benefits.


Firstly, we
have research released this week from Graduate Careers Australia  
which shows graduate
employment is the worst it’s been since the 1992-93 recession, with only
71.3 per cent of bachelor degree graduates in work four months after
completing their degree.


As the AFR reported on the release of the



‘The extent of the
deterioration in full-time work for professions such as law, accounting,
engineering and ­computer science is starkly illustrated by the data.


The percentage of law
graduates with a full-time job fell to 78.5 per cent in  2013 from 83 per
cent the year before, the lowest since records were first kept in 1982.


In accounting, the
percentage of graduates with full-time work fell to 77.4 per cent in
2013, the lowest employment rate since 1992.


The accounting
industry, like law, is undergoing profound restructuring with a
hollowing-out of graduate work that is being outsourced, off-shored and


consider the following employment data from the ABS:



Unemployed in Australia (seasonally adjusted)









Unemployed to vacancies (ratio)






I would hope
it’s obvious that the major factor preventing unemployed people from
gaining jobs is a lack of jobs  . Australia currently has nearly
five unemployed people for every vacancy. This is a high historical
figure considering the most recent six year period.


As Greg

‘… the
current rate for Newstart is $13,273 a year. Given anyone earning less
than $19,700 after tax is in the bottom 10 per cent of Australian
households, those on Newstart are among the poorest of all Australians.
You would have to be either extremely deluded, or a member of the
Cabinet to think people are choosing to stay on such an income.’


As every
recruiter and most employers will tell you, the problem isn’t getting
people to apply for jobs, it’s finding people with the right skills  
and the right geographic availability   to apply for jobs.


Even skills
shortages are not as bad as they have been with the government’s most

Skills Shortages report
(February 2014) declaring ‘Twenty six
occupations are assessed as being in national shortage (7 managers and
professionals, 18 technicians and trades workers plus child care


This is the
lowest number of occupations on the official ‘skills shortage’ list
since 1999 (24 occupations) and compares with recent years as follows:



Official number of occupations in  
‘skills shortage’


Now just
consider the following about the government’s announced policy about
job seekers on the


The government is seriously proposing that 721,300
unemployed Australians send out a minimum of 40 job applications per
month, because, ‘they aren’t trying hard enough’. Therefore 721,300
unemployed job seekers sending out a minimum of 40 applications each
months equates to a minimum of 28,852,000   job applications
each month just from unemployed job seekers.  


Wait, there’s more!


There’s only 146,000 vacancies to where you can send the
29 million applications.


applications will, overwhelmingly be sent by unemployed job seekers to
current vacancies (ie probably less than 1% of job seekers would send a
speculative resume to an employer who is not advertising a job).


And that
works out at … (drum roll please) an average of … 197 applications
per vacancy  just from unemployed job seekers!


Has the
government seriously considered the impact that this proposed policy
will have on businesses who advertise jobs? Have they made even the
slightest attempt to talk with the groups who will be most impacted by
this moronic policy?


Can you
begin to imagine the outcry from the government’s natural constituency
(the business community, both big and small) when they are flooded, day
after day, with irrelevant job applications?


laughable that such a stupid policy would even be considered, let alone
announced as a draft


It seems
amazing that the following needs to be stated, but making people
apply for more jobs does not create more people in employment  !


Yet this is
precisely what the government appears to believe will actually happen.


The Prime
Minister even

Justin Smith on Radio 2UE yesterday) that small
businesses should want job seekers knocking at their doors.


“We want to ensure that
people on unemployment benefits really are serious in looking for work,
but we don’t want to unnecessarily burden small business,” Abbott said.


“On the other hand, given
that so many people in small business say that it is hard to get staff,
maybe it’s not a bad thing if sometimes someone comes in and knocks on
the door and says ‘well if you’re looking for work, if you’re looking
for staff, if you’re looking for a worker, I’m available’.”


Is he
serious? Does he really think this is what small business wants?


This is the
sort of policy you get from people who have spent far too much of their
life in politics, as either elected politicians or as party hacks
working in party political positions, far removed from the day-to-day
life of running a business or working in a ‘normal’ job.

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Hey Ross,

This is fantastic. Thanks for your hard work putting this together. The maths, like nothing else to me illustrates how stupid this is.
Sandy Trousselot.


Totally agree. Plus the maths on the numbers surviving through labour hire companies as contractors (self-employed) who as a floating workforce, may be added to the numbers of unemployed at any moment.

Companies not unlike Transfield, Skilled, Workpac offer 'contract management' services, some aligned to the 'Trouble Shooters case' and 'ODCO' models. Contracts which involve lowest-cost quotes, where the number of full time employees and contractors is reduced to the bare minimum to provide 'savings' to the business and the ability to end 'day/weekly hire' contracts without penalty. A similar 'casualisation of labour' model failed the Argentinian economy in the late '70's and 80's with devastating consequences. Other countries report similar economic failures. For example: a labour hire company making $1.60 profit per hour per person per 8 hour day from 65,000 contractors = $3M / year minimum.

These companies continue to 'sell' their services targeting large, medium and small businesses. Job security is a myth. Training people to 'sell their own services' and be their own business, would be a more effective use of time and money.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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