Boot camp for young unemployed

A leaked Labor Government election initiative would see unemployed young people forced to attend boot camps in order to be paid the dole. The idea is being touted as a possible election policy with youthful job seekers aged 15 to 21 attending army-style camps enforcing strict discipline, in order to receive unemployment benefits. The news was broken by the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday and the relevant Government ministers – Bill Shorten (Education Minister), and Kate Ellis (Workplace Participation Minister)) have so far refused to comment. The policy is one of a range of election campaign strategy proposals before the Federal Government’s Expenditure Review Committee. The proposal would mean a reallocation of funds from providers of Jobs Services Australia to specialist providers of the new, tougher discipline, delivery.

Read more from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Tough love not needed

That youth unemployment is a problem is indisputable. While the national unemployment number hovers around the five per cent mark, in areas dependent for jobs upon manufacturing industries (such as Geelong in Victoria and Elizabeth in South Australia) the percentage of unemployed youth can be as high as 40 per cent. This shameful number rivals that in Spain and Portugal – countries the Australian media has described as the ‘basket cases’ of Europe.

So a policy which promises to equip young people with ‘skills’ to return to the workforce promptly sounds like a good idea, right?

Well yes, if such a scheme was being offered. But the idea of whipping up intergenerational hatred – ‘Young dole bludgers need old school discipline’, I can just see the headlines now – is not my idea of a creative solution to a problem which is hardly of the younger generation’s making.

Let’s cool down, pull back and consider the bigger picture for a moment.

Australia, as with many other developed countries, is undergoing a structural change. A century ago the primary sector was the prime mover when it came to export dollars and employment. Next we saw a surge in manufacturing. Followed by a boom in the services industries. Now we see IT and knowledge industries as the engines for employment. So it is inevitable that those young people living in areas dependent upon the shrinking fortunes of the manufacturing sector will find it extremely difficult to find a job, unless their skills and talents are transferable, meaning employable elsewhere. It is inevitable that some young people will get caught out. And they will need support to retrain and find work in the sectors which are experiencing a boom rather than a bust.

But such support should not mean punishment. And the concept of ‘boot camps’ smacks of rough justice for those who have been caught out through no fault of their own.

I understand that we all need to be flexible when it comes to what we will do to earn a living. But smacking around kids to dangle a ‘tough love’ election strategy in front of older generations makes no sense to me at all. The only tough love I think appropriate is to tell Kev to take his boot camps and shove them where the sun don’t shine.

Is this a step in the right direction? Or should we concentrate on providing better employment opportunities?

Leave a Reply

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Be happy Australia

Are you enrolled to vote?