Privatised job agencies concluded welfare mutual obligations did not “improve the likelihood of employment” for jobseekers in unreleased evidence to a government-commissioned review of the Disability Employment Services (Des) program, The Guardian reports.
Guardian Australia revealed a report by Boston Consulting Group had found recent reforms to the $1bn a year scheme had delivered a windfall to privatised job agencies but not improved outcomes for the unemployed.
The report shows employment consultants offered a scathing assessment of the mutual obligations system, which sees those on benefits required to meet job search requirements.
It says the government might save money if it took responsibility for policing mutual obligations away from employment service providers and handed it to Services Australia, or another third party.
This would reverse a government decision to force job agencies to handle compliance in 2018 – which drew significant criticism from welfare groups and industry groups at the time.
However, the draft version of the Boston Consulting Group report, also obtained under freedom of information, goes further, revealing employers and job agencies are generally unsatisfied with the regime.
The draft report says “providers also expressed considerable negativity towards the mutual obligations system overall … considering that it does not on balance, improve the likelihood of employment”.
“Similar negativity was expressed by several employer interviewees, who expressed the view that mutual obligations job search requirements simply result in an excess of unsuitable applicants for advertised roles,” the draft report added.
Employment service providers told the review between 40% and 50% of their resources went to administrative activities, which included overseeing jobseekers’ mutual obligations.
Both the draft and final report recommended the government “assess options” for handing compliance oversight to Services Australia or a third-party provider.