The Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services tabled its final report, recommending large scale reform to fundamentally rebuild the Commonwealth Employment Services System. The report is available on the Committee’s website.

The Committee makes 75 recommendations supported by over 600 pages of detailed analysis. Fundamental changes recommended include:

  • A stronger, more active role for the Commonwealth government, by establishing Employment Services Australia as a rebuilt public sector core, to steward the system, be a large digital-hybrid provider for people with the fewest barriers to work, and lead each region via physical hubs. ESA Regional hubs would be tasked with assessment, referral, employer engagement and delivery of industry transition and local projects, driven by Jobs and Skills Australia labour market data. The public sector would undertake some direct service delivery including in thin markets, for people furthest from the labour market, and in some places to rebuild capability and experience.
  • An enhanced and—in some respects—radically different service model, which recognises that clients will have different pathways to employment, social and economic participation, moving away from rigid one-size-fits all rules. This would include referrals to other human services, ‘life first’ and social participation goals for some people, a Youth Employment Service, specialist services for First Nations and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse people, and a revamped service for ex-offenders.
  • A new regulatory culture and more relational contracting model, moving from obsessively contracting services out and denying responsibility, to a system where service partners are contracted in to work with government and employers in local communities.
  • Dialling back pointless competition in local areas and service fragmentation, by engaging only one ‘generalist’ case management service partner and one youth specialist per location – this will usually mean more than one partner per region.
  • Focusing far more on demand and employer engagement, including a dedicated employer engagement service via ESA’s regional hubs to ‘hide the wiring’ for business.
  • Broadened and tailored approach to mutual obligations and a new Shared Accountability Framework for compliance, supported by an individualised Participation and Jobs Plan, to cut red tape and compliance burden, stop driving employers away and more effectively support disadvantaged people into work.
  • Seriously considering integrating digital employment marketplaces, such as SEEK, LinkedIn, Indeed, and competitors into the system.
  • Re-professionalising the sector’s workforce, to reduce the shocking 40 per cent staff turnover rate and improve the pay, skills, and conditions of critical frontline staff.
  • Establishing and Employment Services Quality Commission as an independent regulator, responsible for workforce standards, continuous learning, advising on pricing and funding mechanisms for quality services, data collection and complaints management.

Several reforms are proposed as urgent or to be undertaken in the short term during the current financial year to address critical issues and obvious pain points. For other reforms, the Committee recommends that the Government develop and publish a roadmap to a rebuilt Commonwealth Employment Services System by the end of 2024. This roadmap should be a living document and be periodically reviewed and updated.

Information about the inquiry, including Terms of Reference, published submissions, and hearing transcripts, is available on the inquiry website.


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