Mikes Minute: Will work for the dole succeed?

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Friday, 10 August 2018, 6:41a.m.

So the upside of our 'work for the dole' scheme is that there is a chance there is a youngish person, who is currently doing nothing, will end up doing something.

And that's no bad thing.  

A couple of realities though.  

Firstly, there is nothing new in the policy. It's been around for decades and is rolled out periodically by governments to grab an upbeat headline to look like they're addressing an issue that’s bugged western democracies for ages.

It isn't really a fix because if it was we wouldn't be rolling it out yet again.  

It's applicable in times of low unemployment because in general, it’s the young people that are hardest to shift off the dole given they have the least to offer the workforce.  

Equally, with an immigration setting the way we have, it is easier to bring in a skilled up worker from offshore than it is to train someone who may or may not work out.  And in that is the real problem.  

This is all upside for the government, it's taking no risk here at all. They're already writing a cheque for the dole.  

The fact that that person now goes to a place to be trained makes not one jot of difference to the government, until, and this is the big test, until they're skilled up and have a job as a direct result of their new apprenticeship. At which point the government wins again by having one less dole payment to make.  

The business wins too, to the extent, they've presumably solved a problem in terms of recruitment.  

But the risk is all with the employer.  

In a tight labour market, what are you left with? If we are honest and a bit blunt about it, the ones the others don’t want.  

The ones who can't find work in a market where there is work aplenty.

The ones who haven't been hired despite the fact there are industries and businesses all over the place that are screaming out for talent.  

So why can't they find work? For a few, it will be age and stage, they're just a bit unlucky, and it's those that may well find a pathway in this scheme.  

They may well find a skill and an opening, and a future for themselves.

But they are not the majority.  

The majority sadly, have baggage.

Our kids are in this age group, they're not unemployed, but they're in the market for work and there is plenty of it.  

One has two jobs. The others all have all the work they can cope with given school and sport.  

So the risk the employer is taking in this scheme is you have a kid with issues, are they under normal circumstances without a subsidy a good prospect? You'd have to think not.  

Does the subsidy under this scheme close that gap? A little.  

Are they the sort of prospect that will make it worth an employer’s time and energy to train them up? You'd hope so.  

But that’s the million dollar question, and that's why these schemes keep getting rolled out because they’ve never really proven to be a smash hit. If they were, we wouldn't still be here.  

The test of the success of this is whether it's more than a stopgap, more than a training course that leads nowhere, that it’s a genuine pipeline for getting young people into work.

And if it is let’s make it permanent, and let's get away from the madness of paying people especially young people to do nothing.  

Kerre McIvor Mornings

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