In 1998 Australia embarked on a bold experiment by privatising public employment services on the basis that the contestable market model would increase efficiency and effectiveness by promoting innovative, individualised assistance and choice for clients. This paper reports evidence from various sources along with findings of focus groups conducted with staff from non-profit Job Network agencies in late 2007. The research presented in the paper shows that the Job Network has failed to deliver an efficient, effective employment and training service to improve labour market functioning and meet the changing skill requirements of Australian employers. Job Network providers have remained compliant agents of the government, willing to enforce government policies including depriving the most disadvantaged sections of Australian society of income for extended periods and imposing increasingly draconian conditions for receipt of benefits. We argue that such policies cannot increase the likelihood of successful employment outcomes, reduce poverty and deprivation, nor do they empower the unemployed or increase self-esteem.
Labour Underutilisation, Skills Shortages and Social Inclusion: Incorporating the 10th Path to Full Employment Conference and 15th National Conference on Unemployment. Labour Underutilisation, Skills Shortages and Social Inclusion: Incorporating the 10th Path to Full Employment Conference and 15th National Conference on Unemployment: Proceedings (Callaghan, N.S.W. 4-5 December, 2008) p. 21-34