Victorians in work


This is a long-form analysis of the Victorian Government’s investments in employment and sector workforce. For a quick summary of specific Budget program expenditure in this space click here.

Victoria’s employment growth is strong, with unemployment at 4 per cent and regional unemployment at 3.2 per cent. We are pleased to see that up to mid-April 2022, of all the people helped into employment by the Jobs Victoria Fund, 63 per cent were women. The Fund’s initial target was to pay 60 per cent of wage subsidies to women, so it is a positive development to see that this investment has delivered greater gender equity outcomes. This demonstrates the value in setting targets to guide funding decisions. 

VCOSS advocated in our State Budget Submission for further investment in the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, which focuses on investing in priority economic development projects and community-led responses to social and economic challenges in rural and regional Victoria. We are pleased to see that this Fund will receive funding for a further year.

We know that employment figures don’t always tell the full story, so we continue to advocate for policy measures and programs that wrap support around disadvantaged jobseekers who continue to be locked out of opportunity in the labour market even in ‘good times’ – especially older women, people with disabilities, early school leavers and Victorians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

VCOSS welcomes funding in this year’s Budget to support the Career Pathways into Employment for Unpaid Carers program, which delivers tailored employment support for carers and creates pathways into jobs in the disability, community services and aged care sectors. 

We are also pleased that the Budget provides funding for the First Jobs program, which VCOSS advocated for in our submission. This program helps support secondary and post-secondary students living in public housing, who need assistance to find their first job ever, or their first job in their field of study. We eagerly await details of the quantum and scope of funding.

We know that employment figures don’t always tell the full story, so we continue to advocate for policy measures and programs that wrap support around disadvantaged jobseekers who continue to be locked out of opportunity in the labour market even in ‘good times’

Despite significant progress being made in reducing Victoria’s unemployment rate and regional unemployment rate, youth unemployment is currently double the general population at around 9.6 per cent. VCOSS would like to see the State Government commit to a Youth Guarantee, ensuring that all young Victorians under 24 years old receive an offer of employment, education or an apprenticeship/traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. This will require a suite of measures and refinements to current policies across employment, education and apprenticeships/training in order to increase engagement and participation, and improve completion rates.

Funding has also been provided to continue the implementation of the Government’s response to the Inquiry into the Victorian On-Demand Workforce. This includes provision of support services for on-demand workers, including advice in relation to their entitlements and work status and administration of the Fair Conduct and Accountability Standards.

While VCOSS is pleased to see that nearly $250 million has been allocated for the two-year pilot of the Sick Pay Guarantee, which will support over 150,000 workers in highly casualised and insecure positions, we would like to see this expanded to support more casual workers in the community services sector. Currently the Fund supports workers in retail, hospitality, cleaning, security and aged and disability care. 

Looking ahead, we are also keen to see greater investment in the care economy, as an engine room for jobs growth, including lived experience workforces.

Pre-COVID, many community service organisations struggled to secure enough new workers to fill vacancies. Workforce shortages were particularly acute in regional areas. These workforce pressures have been exacerbated by COVID-19, with exponential growth in demand for social assistance. This represents a major existential challenge for the community services industry – and government.

While this Budget contains welcome, record investment to grow the state’s mental health workforce, VCOSS’ State Budget Submission made the case for Victorian Government investment in an overarching community services industry workforce strategy[DF1]  that enables all parts of the system to grow and develop their workforces. 

The community services industry is one of Victoria’s largest employers of women. VCOSS eagerly awaits the final report of the Government’s Inquiry into Economic Equity for Victorian Women and implementation of recommendations that support women’s participation, including leadership. 

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