Release type: Speech


Address - National jobactive Forum


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

*Check against delivery*


Good afternoon. I am delighted to join you at the National Jobactive CEO Forum. 

All of us have the same goal – and that is to get people off welfare and into work.

The CEO Forum is opportune given that jobactive providers have recently achieved over 1.5 million job placements since July 2015 and continues to achieve around 1,000 job placements every day.

This is a great milestone and I am pleased to advise that the performance of jobactive exceeds the previous employment services program, Job Services Australia.

Compared to the former JSA the proportion of job placements that lasted at least six months is around 38 per cent higher under jobactive.

On top of this, the recent labour force figures underscore the continued strength and resilience of the Australian labour market — employment has increased every month for the last three years.

Almost 1.5 million jobs have been created since the Government came to office in September 2013.

More Australians are in work than ever before, with employment at a record high of more than 12.9 million workers as of September.

We intend to maintain this strong momentum as we move towards fulfilling our commitment to support the creation of 1.25 million jobs and another 250,000 small businesses over the next five years.

So there is work to do!!

As you are aware the Government is committed to the continued reform of employment services and the recognition that, technological advances have provided the opportunity to fine tune and build digital elements into the future model - for even better results.

I don’t underestimate the scale and complexity of the task ahead. It is important that we get the new model right given its significant impact on Australian job seekers, employers and the economy.

This is our opportunity to build on the lessons we have learnt from 20 years of outsourced employment services.

I encourage you to be open to change, and to work with the department to refine the final model.

I am sure there are features in the current model that have proven successful for your organisations, and other elements that you consider could be improved.

All three core elements of the trial are now in place, with streaming of job seekers into Digital First, Digital Plus and Enhanced Services.

It’s important the new employment services model is vigorously tested to support a successful implementation.

We need to invest in those who need the most assistance — and for those who need less support, provide a service that allows job seekers to self-manage, while being able to access additional support where needed.

I expect those of you in the trial regions, and my department, to identify and try innovative approaches.

Some approaches tested may not work as well as we might hope, and that’s OK.  We need to identify areas where refinements are needed, before the model is rolled out nationally.

I would also encourage you to start thinking about what needs to be adapted within your organisations, to make sure your staff can support and encourage job seekers under the new model.

The Government is committed to ongoing consultation, discussion and co-design with users, including providers, as we move towards full implementation in 2022.

A Trial Reference Group has now been established.  It will play an important role in testing policy and operational concepts that inform the final design of the new employment services model.

Both Jobs Australia and NESA are member organisations.

And there will also be plenty of opportunities going forward for all of you to provide feedback throughout the trial.

Technology provides as with new ways of doing things – that is our reality.

Digital services is therefore one of the key transformational features of the new employment services model.

The digital platform underpinning online servicing will have several additional features developed, tested and incorporated prior to July 2022.

The department is investing in new tools that will support all users, including providers, to support better skills and job matching.

We know that it is important to ensure there are adequate supports in place for people accessing digital services. That’s why a Contact Centre will support people if they have questions or need help.

The Contact Centre will give job seekers feedback on their job search efforts and help them to connect with other services and information to help them towards employment.

There will also be a role for you to provide some supports for job seekers who have trouble using or accessing the digital service.

 As part of the Trial, participants without the necessary skills, or who want to opt out of digital services, will be referred to a provider for face-to-face support.

While we are trialling a new model in two employment regions we need to continue to help the most disadvantaged to get and keep sustainable jobs.

The digital servicing arrangements in the new model mean efforts can be refocused on providing intensive tailored support to the most disadvantaged job seekers so they have the best chance to get and keep a job.

I would like you to carefully consider the impact the key design and policy aspects of the new model may have on how you serve job seekers.

The refocus on disadvantaged job seekers means current provider business models may need to change:

  • Enhanced Services will likely feature smaller caseloads.
  • Providers will no longer be able to rely on the income they generate from Stream A job seekers.
  • Different approaches may need to be adopted to provide tailored, wrap around services that reduce barriers to job seekers employment.

We will continue to support providers to achieve outcomes through a range of new tools, such as a more comprehensive assessment process and flexible activation.

Consistent with the recommendations of the Expert Advisory Panel, there will be a new payment model that supports investment in addressing vocational and non-vocational barriers.

I also want to mention the Career Transition Assistance – which helps mature age job seekers to become more competitive in their local labour market.

Since the national rollout on 1 July, there have been almost 2000 referrals and almost 1600 commencements in CTA.

While an additional 200 CTA commencements are expected this month, there are still a significant number of eligible mature age job seekers in jobactive who are not currently in an activity.

I encourage you to consider the benefits of CTA for the mature age job seekers on your caseload.

Given the Government’s strong focus on mature age workforce participation, I encourage jobactive providers to focus their efforts on helping this important group of job seekers and to actively work with CTA providers to ensure the success of the program.

Collaboration with other employment services providers and engagement with Government initiatives, like CTA, are key factors informing the department’s assessment of a provider’s performance under their current contract as well as their potential to deliver future employment services.

There is an integral relationship between skills and jobs. Recognising this, the Government has invested $585 million in our Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package.

Part of this investment is the recognition that people need to be supported across all stages of life to develop a ‘portfolio of skills’ that will allow them to adapt to changing demands.

To help with this, our new Skills Match feature on the Job Outlook website helps people to identify the skills they have built in past jobs, and suggests new jobs or careers they might be able to move into that use their skills.

It also shows the training or skills a person might need to develop further to move into a new career.

One area of the skills package where I see strong opportunities for employment service providers is in placing more job seekers into apprenticeships.

The Government has set a target of creating up to 80,000 additional apprenticeships in priority skill shortage areas by 2024 and we have already put in place a new apprenticeship incentive for employers and apprentices.

Employment services can and should be doing more to help place interested job seekers into apprenticeship opportunities.

Currently, jobactive providers place around 2,500 job seekers a year into an apprenticeship.

This is despite the flexibility available within jobactive, which allows jobactive providers to claim a Full Outcome for a job seeker receiving Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance (Other) when they remain each week in a full-time apprenticeship or traineeship.

This is the case even though they may not have earned sufficient income to be completely off income support.

I encourage all jobactive providers to engage and collaborate with their local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider and place more job seekers into an apprenticeship.

It’s been a pleasure to speak with you today.

I look forward to hearing your views, to make sure our transformative agenda hits the mark.