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By Mary Sayers.
Published on the VCOSS Voice on 3 May 2017.
Work is central to many people’s lives and enhances Victoria’s society and economy. Work also contributes to people’s sense of identity and wellbeing and promotes social cohesion. The 2017 Victorian Budget includes welcome initiatives to stimulate employment growth in new industries and in localities facing disadvantage. It provides transition support for workers facing redundancy.
Building on the Latrobe Valley Assistance Package announced in the mid-year budget update, which provided $66 million in 2017-18 ($259 million over four years), this budget provides funding to support workers to transition to new jobs in the Latrobe Valley. There is also welcome funding for social enterprise development, which will benefit vulnerable Victorians. There are initiatives to encourage young people to enter the construction industry, and support for first-year apprentices and migrant workers facing exploitation.
The budget provides for a dedicated investment and assistance fund to facilitate private sector investment and job creation. Priority sectors for investment are manufacturing, aviation, medical technologies, food and fibre, and supporting jobs growth in communities with high levels of disadvantage.
Cost: $65m in 2017-18 ($90m over two years)
Supporting workers transition to new jobs
There are two initiatives in the budget to support workers to transition to new jobs. Workers in the Latrobe Valley will be supported with career planning, development, job search assistance and digital literacy for workers.
Cost: $1.5m in 2017-18 ($4m over two years)
Workers across Victoria who have been retrenched will be supported through the Supporting Workers in Transition Program.
Cost: $1.3m in 2017-18 ($4.6m over four years)
Support for apprentices
To support retention and completion, Apprenticeship Support Officers will provide assistance and advice to first-year apprentices aged under 25 on personal and workplace issues, and will work with Registered Training Organisations.
Cost: $4.1m in 2017-18 ($8.2m over two years)
Creating jobs through social enterprises
The budget provides for support to new, emerging and existing social enterprises and will focus on social enterprises that generate better job outcomes for Victorians from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Cost: $1.5m in 2017-18 ($6m over four years)
Supporting migrant workers
Victoria’s first government funded migrant workers centre will be established to advocate for workers who are exploited in the workplace. The centre will engage workers across communities in Victoria about worker rights, wages and conditions and workplace disadvantage.
Cost: $1m in 2017-18 ($2m over two years)
Encouraging young people to work in the construction industry
Funding is provided to encourage young people to develop skills to work in the construction industry.
Cost: $0.5m in 2017-18
Develop a workforce participation plan
Victoria is experiencing stubbornly high rates of youth unemployment, and multiple and complex barriers to employment exist for people with disability, young people, long-term unemployed people, older people, Aboriginal people and single parents. A holistic workplace participation plan for people facing disadvantage is needed to articulate the whole-of-government strategy.
Expansion of Local Learning and Employment Networks
Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLENs) play an important role in helping young people develop skills and find work. The Victorian Government can keep young people in education and training and reduce youth unemployment by investing in the expansion of LLENs.
Further support for young people with complex needs to enter the workforce
The Victorian Government can help young people with complex needs enter the workforce by further funding services targeted to them. Wrap-around services are needed to provide affordable housing, education or training, employment support, living skills training, health services and connections to community. Initiatives like Youth Foyers and Reconnect can be evaluated and further expanded in coming years.