For the past two decades, millions of people who have found themselves out of work in Australia have been sent to one of the country’s outsourced job agencies – whether they like it or not, The Guardian.
The government pays these companies and non-profits millions each year in fees to assist – but also police – their clients’ job search efforts – and they get further bonuses for getting people into jobs or education.
The idea is that the bonuses incentivise them to find work for their jobseekers, holding them accountable in a privatised system.
But as many who have looked at or dealt with the system say, while there are success stories, there are countless tales of horror too.
When Guardian Australia revealed the contents of an as-yet unpublished government-commissioned report into one of these programs, a reader replied gratefully that they felt “seen”. Their experience with the system had left them “broken”, they said.
The 150-page review, conducted by Boston Consulting Group, looked into the $1bn-a-year Disability Employment Services (Des) program.
The government had further regulated the system in 2018. The result, Boston Consulting Group found, was a windfall for some providers while outcomes for jobseekers went backwards.
The Des program is set up for people whose primary barrier to work is a disability.
In response to the reforms, providers boosted their spending on marketing and started offering sign-up incentives like free iPads. Yet the reforms – which also included changes to the funding structure – appeared to do little to help jobseekers find work. The likelihood of a Des participant doing so declined by “around 12-14%”, the review found.
mohamed mahmoud hassan / Public Domain Pictures