Unions have called on the Coalition to abandon its proposed youth employment scheme which would see young people paid as little as $4 an hour for “work experience”.
And it has welcomed Labor’s Working Futures job programme designed to create genuine employment paths through pre-apprenticeship schemes and the requirement that apprentices be engaged on government-funded infrastructure projects.
The government’s PaTH programme, announced in the May budget, allows companies to engage young unemployed workers for nothing while receiving $1000 per worker for the privilege.
The young worker gets an extra $200 a week on top of their Youth Allowance for working 10-25 hours a week.
That means they work for between $4 and $10 an hour – well below the minimum wage – while at the same time not being covered by the protections available to actual employees.
“Youth unemployment is reaching critical levels across Australia,’ ACTU President Ged Kearney said, “and the next government needs to give kids a hand up, not hand them over to companies to be exploited as free labour, without the protection of Fair Work Australia, federal OHS standards or worker’s compensation.”
“Completing the PaTH scheme gives a young person nothing that will help them find a real job. For the same money that is being spent on PaTH, the same number of young people – 120,000 - could complete a Certificate IV; a real qualification that leads to a real job.”