Posted on 3 May 2016

    The Government Wants You To Work For $4 An Hour

    Get a good job that pays good money.

    The government has a plan to get people under 25 into jobs. It’s called Youth Jobs PaTH.

    FX

    I know what you're thinking and no, that's not a typo.

    It's an acronym for Prepare, Trial, Hire.

    And no, I don't know where the lowercase 'a' comes from.

    From 1 April 2017 if you don’t have a job and apply for any kind of dole payment, you can opt in to a three-stage program that involves working for as little as $4 per hour.

    Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images

    Here's how it works.

    STAGE ONE: Prepare.

    Jetta Productions / Getty Images

    Within five months of signing up to the dole, "vulnerable job seekers" under 25 can sign up to six weeks of "pre-employment skills training".

    The first three weeks involves learning basic skills such as working in a team, presentation, and what they're calling "appropriate IT literacy" but what we're calling "you're under 25, you're probably OK".

    After six months on jobactive you'll be eligible to move on to the next stage.

    STAGE TWO: Trial, a.k.a the unpaid(ish) internship program.

    Jupiterimages / Getty Images

    Under the scheme, up to 30,000 young people will complete work experience at a business of their choosing* every year. The business gets $1000 up front to take on the free labour.

    Internships are voluntary. They can't force you to do one.

    The internships will run from four to 12 weeks and you'll be expected to work 15 to 25 hours per week (an average job is 40 hours per week).

    You'll be doing anywhere between 60 hours and 300 hours of work all up.

    You'd be expecting a bit of sweet $$$ for all that work, right?

    Wrong.

    You'll get your usual welfare payment (Youth Allowance, Newstart, Disability etc), plus an additional $200 per fortnight for working.

    This means you could work 50 hours over two weeks and only get paid $200. That's $4 per hour.

    By comparison, participants in the Green Army earn between $304.20 and $493.70 for up to 30 hours of work each week.

    * They say that, but so did my year 10 career adviser and I still didn't end up at NASA.

    STAGE THREE: Hire.

    Glenn Hunt / AAPIMAGE

    You got it! You got the job! Get a selfie with Malcolm!

    Jk.

    IF, yes IF, your employer decides to keep you on after your internship, they will be eligible for a "Youth Bonus" subsidy of between $6,500 and $10,000.

    But they don't have to hire you full-time.

    They have the option of hiring you through a labour hire arrangement, or as an apprentice or trainee.

    Or, of course, not hiring you at all.

    Why is the government doing this?

    Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

    Youth unemployment is a big problem in Australia. The national rate clocked in at 12 per cent in March, but in regional Tasmania and Queensland it's higher.

    On the one hand, PaTH is a cheap way to skill-up unemployed young people. On the other, it's a cheap incentive for businesses to create jobs.

    "It is worth trying new ways to get young people into real jobs," treasurer Scott Morrison said in his Budget speech.

    Morrison said if the government doesn't step in to help under 25s get work, he'll be signing up a generation of young Australians to a "lifetime of welfare dependency."

    "The social and human cost is too great for our country to ignore."

    PaTH will cost $751.7 million over the next four years.

    It's "flexible", meaning you can jump around the program. Very agile.

    Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

    Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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