Release type: Media Release


Investing in our young people for Australia’s future


Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations

Young unemployed Australians will be encouraged to access new education and training opportunities under a range of initiatives to build the nation’s future workforce.

At present, around 320,000 young people are not in employment, education or training. Given the skills shortages our economy is facing, the nation needs the important contribution these young people can make.

Initiatives under the Building Australia’s Future Workforce package will include:

  • Extending ‘Earn or Learn’ requirements and eligibility for Youth Allowance (Other) to unemployed young people aged 21;
  • Improving returns to work for young people, through a more generous income free limit and working credit for Youth Allowance (Other) recipients;
  • Investing $67.6 million to help 160,000 early school leavers aged 15-21 years to get basic skills they need; and
  • Establishing a new Indigenous Youth Careers Pathways Program to provide school-based traineeships.

The Gillard Government will also provide $772 million over five years to increase Family Tax Benefit A for teenagers in full time secondary study - boosting the level of support by up to $4208 a year for 16 to 19-year-olds.

Earn or learn requirements

The Gillard Government will extend Learn or Earn to early school leavers who are 21 years old. They will be required to participate in a combination of education, training or other approved activity, such as paid work voluntary work.

From 1 July 2012 eligibility for Youth Allowance (other) will be extended to 21-year-olds, for new applicants. This removes the incentive for 21-year-olds to be on unemployment benefits rather than student income support.

Improving returns to work

To improve returns to work, young people will be able to keep more of what they earn.From 1 July 2012, the income free limit for Youth Allowance (other) recipients will be increased from $62 a fortnight to $143 a fortnight, complemented by a three and a half fold increase in the Working Credit limit from $1000 to $3500.

This means that Youth Allowance (other) recipients will be able to more than double the amount they can earn before their income support payments are affected, benefiting around 17,000 young people.

Early school leavers

New investment of $67.6 million will enable up to 160,000 early school leavers aged 15-21 receive additional support to build their foundation skills; employment, study and life skills which include basic literacy and numeracy.

Job Services Australia (JSA) providers will have access to an additional $500 for every early school leaver that joins their service, to provide this transitional assistance

Where appropriate, providers will also encourage access to the new places available under the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program.

Indigenous Youth Careers Pathways Program

Starting in 2012 the Australian Government will redirect $50.7 million over four years to the Indigenous Youth Careers Pathways Program to support Indigenous students to stay in school or undertake one of 6400 school-based traineeships, engage with mainstream employment service providers, find a job or move into further study.

Teenage parents

The Gillard Government is also introducing new requirements and support for teenage parents receiving Parenting Payment in ten targeted locations across the country, with a view to national roll-out.

The new approach will see teenage parents get the support they need to get a good education, finish Year 12 and build life skills so they can go on to get a good job. It will also help these young parents get the parenting skills they need to look after their children so they can also benefit from a better start in life.