Young, jobless Aussies to get income support payments to undergo internships

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Unemployment
A man passes near a banner at a protest camp opposite The Houses of Parliament in London June 16, 2010. Reuters/Tony Melville

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a new deal that would allow young Aussies to get welfare payments to undertake internships for businesses. Unemployed young people will be offered up to 10,000 internships over the next four years after the federal government and retail sector struck the deal.

Aussies ages 15 to 24 will undergo training and secure a 12-week placement with major retailers. This new opportunity is part of the government's PaTH internship program. Under the program, the government will pay businesses $1,000 to take on young, jobless Aussies as interns. Retailers like Bakers Delight and Coffee Club are participating in the scheme.

The move aims to bring young Aussies into the workforce. The prime minister believes the new scheme would be an opportunity for the youth to run big businesses and provide jobs for people. "They will get a start at a job and, you know what, they could go on to great heights," Turnbull said on Monday.

PaTH program for young Aussies

The new PaTH scheme offers young people $200 a fortnight on top of income support payment to undergo internships. The Guardian notes that a recent report revealed that nearly one-third of young Aussies are unemployed or underemployed.

According to employment minister Michaelia Cash, the program seeks to get young people job-ready. The partnership would reportedly create new job positions and would not replace current roles or fill existing gaps.

Russel Zimmerman, Australian Retailers Association chief executive, said the PaTH scheme is an opportunity for underprivileged youths to obtain the same opportunity as successful business people. "We are hoping by this program, and being able to get people enthused about the retail industry and to get employers to take on more people, that we will get young people into retail, that they will see retail as a career, and work their way through," The Australian quotes Zimmerman as saying.

But for Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney, the program provided no path to employment, qualification or workforce protection. She told reporters at a press conference on Monday that the PaTH scheme is a “government-sanctioned program,” adding it provided a “perverse incentive to not offer young people a job."

Labor and the Greens have also expressed disapproval against the new PaTH scheme. There were arguments that it would allow young people to be exploited by employers.

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