May 14, 2004

The World Today – Albanese outlines Labor’s Youth Guarantee

Albanese outlines Labor’s Youth Guarantee

The World Today – Friday 14 May 2004 12:20:06

Reporter: Catherine McGrath

ELEANOR HALL: Well as we’ve been hearing, the key policy proposal that Labor has announced is its $700 million Youth Guarantee policy.

Labor’s spokesman on employment youth services, Anthony Albanese, explained the policy details to our Chief Political Correspondent Catherine McGrath.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We want to engage with young people. We want to make sure that no one’s left behind.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: Well isn’t this the same as Working Nation? Working Nation had a program for 15 to 17-year-olds and if they didn’t take part they could lose their benefits?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well this is very much an integrated strategy of education, training and employment. It’s an approach aimed at keeping people – 15,000 early school leavers – at school. This is the most comprehensive strategy aimed at young people ever put forward by an Australian political party.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: On that point, the Working Nation had an intensive case management scheme for young people – case management to begin 13 weeks after registering for unemployment. So what’s the difference?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well the difference here is link-up will begin on day 1. On Day One, a young person will be assigned a personal advisor. They will try to get them into school, into training or into employment. If that hasn’t occurred within three months, then we won’t be talking to them. They’ll then participate in a six-month program with a wage subsidy of $2,600 for employers.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: So if they don’t take part, what happens?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well we believe that by having training mentors, by giving them that assistance, we believe that they will take part.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: Well what about claims that this sort of approach is like a nanny-state approach?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s not a nanny-state at all. We very much want young people to help themselves as well. We think though, that the fact is, when you have youth unemployment of up to 37 per cent in areas like the northern suburbs of Adelaide, Wide Bay, northern Tasmania – all these areas – that is an indictment on today’s society. It is simply not good enough that young people grow up in communities where they don’t know anyone who’s getting into jobs.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: Well one thing ACOSS is saying this morning is that while they welcome some of the visions, they’re concerned about young people who have vulnerable needs, people who have been alienated from the system, and aren’t working or learning because they’ve got other problems, other issues. What are you going to do about them?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, that’s what the training mentors are there for. The training mentors will look at issues such as why people are dropping out of school or are at risk of dropping out of school. They’ll be able to offer them tutoring, offer them life skills and assistance.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: And how are you going to measure the success of this, of those 45,000 youth unemployed. At the end of this, how many of them are going to have ongoing jobs?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well at the end of this, what we’d like…

CATHERINE MCGRATH: They might have the skills, but the jobs might still not be there.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: … how you measure the success is that if, down the track, I or any other Labor minister goes into a school and talks to young people, and every single one of those young people are talking about what job they want, what career they want to go into, or what further educational training they want, and not talking about ‘oh, maybe I’ll just drop out of school’ – that is how we’ll measure success.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: Of the 45,000 how many at the end of the program are going to have jobs or ongoing educational opportunities to go on with?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, all the history shows, that if you get to people early, then they won’t be in danger of long-term unemployment.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: But have you got a figure on it? Have you got a figure on it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, we haven’t got a figure on it. We want… we want every young person though, to have that opportunity, and the figure that is clear in terms of a youth guarantee. What we want in the longer-term, with the fulfilment of this program, is to have no 15 to 18-year-old, sitting around at home doing nothing.

ELAEANOR HALL: Labor’s spokesman on employment services and training, Anthony Albanese, speaking to Catherine McGrath.