Sunday, May 8, 2016

Evaluating Training for Young Job Seekers

The Australian Government announced a "Youth Jobs PaTH" as part of the 2016/17 Budget. This has three stages to get young people into work: Employability skills training, Internship placement, and a Youth Bonus wage subsidy. The difficulty will be in administering the scheme to see that participants get real training, given the problems with administering previous training schemes, particularly VET-HELP. There are no details as to the formal qualifications which participants in Youth Jobs PaTH will receive. In particular, to comply with Australian employment law, the interns in Stage Two would need to be enrolled in a vocational training program. With this short time scale, and trainees spread across Australia, it would seem useful to apply on-line distance learning (ODL) to the Youth Jobs PaTH program. Sochowski (2013) used activity theory to evaluate the applicability of ODL to apprenticeship training in Canada. The same might be done in Australia, with the need to understand the complex relationships between government and industry.

Stage 1: Employability skills training

In the first stage, young job seekers will be required to undertake six weeks of "intensive pre-employment skills training". The first three weeks will be on teamwork, presentation and IT use, then  three weeks on job preparation and "job hunting" skills. There is no mention of a qualification for the job seeker, or of what accreditation those providing the training will be required to have.

Stage 2: Internship placement

Those completing stage 1 may be offered an "Internship" of 4 to 12 weeks, where they work 15 to 25 hours per week for an business. The job seeker receives an additional $200 per fortnight from the government and the business $1,000. There is no mention of formal skills training or a qualification for the job seeker, just "hands on experience in a workplace". There is no mention of what trainer accreditation the business will be required to have.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has advised that:
"Unpaid work experience and unpaid internships that are not vocational placements are okay as long as the person isn’t in an employment relationship. People in employment relationships are employees of a business and entitled to: a minimum wage ..."
From "Work experience & internships", Fair Work Ombudsman, 2014
The Youth Jobs PaTH internship does not appear to be part of a formal vocational qualification and so is not a vocational placement, exempt from employment conditions.

The Australian Government says:
"Businesses ... will also benefit from the opportunity to see what a young worker can do and how they fit in to the team before deciding whether to offer them ongoing employment.". 

This is similar to an example given by the Ombudsman, where an intern works unpaid in the expectation of a job later and which the Ombudsman concludes they should be paid as an employee for. This indicates the Youth Jobs PaTH interns are employees and so must be paid at least the minimum wage, meet National Employment Standards and any applicable award or registered agreement.

One way to overcome this difficulty would be to have a VET qualification as part of the program. This would then make it a vocational placement, exempt from employment conditions. However, this would require the skills of the intern to be formally assessed by a qualified assessor, with for example a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (which I have). This is not such an onerous task, but the process might cost more than the $1,000 per person the government is offering businesses.

Stage 3: Youth Bonus wage subsidy

Stage three provides a wage subsidy of $6,500 or $10,000 to employers of a young job seeker. Stage three of this program appears to have no relationship to the preceding two stages and to be a completely unrelated initiative. There is no requirement for the job seeker in Stage 3 to have undertaken employability skills training (Stage 1) or for the employer to have participated in the intern scheme (Stage 2).


Kennedy, M. F., & Kettle, B. W. (1995). Using a Transactionist Model in Evaluating Distance Education Programs. Canadian journal of educational communication, 24(2), 159-70. Retrieved from

Sochowski, R. W. (2013). Applying Activity Theory: Instructor Design and Development Experiences with Online Distance Learning in the Electrical Apprenticeship Trades Programs (Doctoral dissertation, University of Calgary). Retrieved from:

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