Goal: Everyone can get a secure job with a decent wage
Getting a decent job can change someone’s life. A good job with security and decent pay provides a stable income, meaningful engagement and buys people a stake in Victoria’s future. By creating good jobs and giving people the skills, advice and pathways to get into them, the Victorian Government can give hope to the nearly 200,000 unemployed Victorians, and the 300,000 more who can’t find enough work.
But this needs to mean more than just providing any job – Victorians need good jobs. In Victoria today, a job no longer guarantees a decent living, with over 200,000 Victorian workers living in poverty despite being employed.
The community sector will provide a growing share of the jobs of the future, especially as the NDIS, MyAgedCare and family violence response rolls out. But this means the quality of those jobs will impact heavily on Victorians’ wellbeing. Community services jobs must be secure, well paid and provide decent career paths. If we create more insecure work in casualised and under-valued roles we will not fill job vacancies, and vital services will not be delivered.
Creating jobs, skills and pathways
Victoria is the jobs engine of Australia, generating nearly 400,000 jobs over the past five years. But we need to provide better pathways for marginalised workers to be hired to reduce unemployment. Jobless numbers have barely budged, and youth unemployment is at record levels of 15 per cent.
Target more jobs to marginalised workers
The Victorian Government is a major employer, and can lead by example by lifting and broadening its targets for embracing a more diverse workforce. This includes extending the 6 per cent disability target (12 per cent by 2025) and the 2 per cent Aboriginal target, from the relatively small and central Public Service to the entire Victorian public sector, including schools and hospitals. Victoria can also set targets for other groups, such as people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and single parents.
“The Victorian community is best served by a public sector that reflects and embraces its rich diversity.”
Work with business to promote inclusion and flexibility
The Victorian Government should encourage employers to ‘take a chance’ on hiring disadvantaged jobseekers and to offer more inclusive and diverse workplaces. Becoming best-practice employers, with inclusive attitudes and flexibility for workers, can mean tapping into a larger recruitment pool and benefitting from the many talents of diverse workers, which are too often overlooked.
Use government buying power to create jobs for marginalised workers
‘Social procurement’ uses government purchasing power to create jobs for marginalised workers. The current Social Procurement Framework can be expanded across all government purchasing, and can go beyond creating apprenticeships and traineeships to employing long-term unemployed people, people with disability and other marginalised workers.
Top up wages and provide more jobseekers support
Victoria can expand its capabilities in supporting the most disadvantaged jobseekers to get into the workforce. Victoria should build on the successes and lessons from the Jobs Victoria Employment Network and expand intensive assistance for jobseekers, including additional tools to support them into work, such as introductory wage subsidies as people develop experience in workplaces.
Supercharge regional economic development strategies
Victoria can create and boost local collaborative economic development alliances to harness the talents and assets in communities, generating a viable commercial base and ensuring that people working and living locally reap the benefits. The first priority is areas of high unemployment or those affected by a changing employment landscape. These powerhouse alliances can link local training with local jobs, encourage ‘buy local’ campaigns and pinpoint the best infrastructure investments.
Invest in dedicated, skilled and experienced school careers advisors
It’s a challenge to decide on a career path and choose the right option to pursue it, especially for young people who don’t have good personal connections or who face others’ low expectations about their future.
Victoria can help young people make informed choices by funding dedicated full-time school careers advisors, rather than part-time afterthought roles. 15 With dedicated jobs, careers advisors can provide high quality, contemporary guidance tailored to students’ strengths and interests, and realistic information about training requirements and job prospects. They can open students’ minds to new possibilities, provide real-world opportunities, build strong relationships and referral pathways with employers as well as other education providers and community organisations, and attend relevant professional development.
Maintain free vocational education
Victoria can overcome the biggest barrier to people getting the skills needed for our future workforce by keeping free training in targeted vocational qualifications, like community services. Cost is the biggest barrier for many students, especially those living in poverty. Waiving fees means more people can undertake courses and gain the skills for future success.
Provide intensive training support for disadvantaged learners
Victoria can engage the most disadvantaged in acquiring skills by funding extra assistance to stay in vocational education courses. For the most disadvantaged learners, it can be a struggle to stay connected and engaged in training. Having extra funding set aside to help overcome life’s difficulties – including daily costs like transport, short-term accommodation or mental health support – can keep people learning and on a pathway to success.
Foster innovative ways of engaging young people in higher learning.
Victoria can better support young people once they leave school by investing in novel and alternative pathways to jobs and vocational education for early school-leavers and at-risk young people. For example, Local Learning and Employment Networks can help develop innovative models to re-engage young people and provide pathways into the higher education system.
Safeguard excellence in vocational education
To maximise students’ job prospects, Victoria should have an accessible, high quality VET system, which particularly meets the needs of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. There is still widespread distrust of accredited qualifications, especially from some for-profit private training providers. Both Victorian and Commonwealth governments should keep strengthening quality control and audits so students can trust they are learning the right skills for successful careers.
Make wage theft a crime
Wage theft is widespread, with one in five young workers found to receive base pay rates less than the minimum wage and less than half of young workers receiving penalty rates. Underpayment of wages is endemic across the retail, hospitality and fast food sectors and enforcement activities undertaken by the Fair Work Ombudsman are ineffective.
The Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) should be amended to insert a new offence of ‘wage theft’ to deter and punish employers for engaging in the deliberate and dishonest underpayment of wages.
Securing the community sector growth dividend.
The community services and health industry is creating the jobs of the future right now, nearly double the rate of any other industry. In five years, it will employ nearly half a million workers.
We want to be an industry of choice for job seekers and provide rewarding career opportunities, secure employment, and good pay and conditions.
Boost community sector pay and conditions
Community services industry growth can only provide secure futures for Victorian workers if these new jobs offer decent pay and conditions. Victoria needs to fund community service employers to keep pace with wage and cost increases, and to avoid creating more insecure and low-paid jobs.
To achieve fair wages and conditions, community service organisations need a properly costed pricing and indexation framework that maintains fair funding levels. The industry is being squeezed by baseline funding increases of only 2 per cent each year, threatening job security and wage levels.
Grow community sector skills in the regions
Victoria especially needs to construct a pipeline of qualified, professional community service workers in our regions, where skill shortages are most acute. These shortages are compromising regional service quality and stymieing jobs growth. Investing in local, community-led approaches can be effective to secure regional jobs and ensure our regions get equivalent services.
Build a Victorian social development bank
Victoria can promote faster community services jobs growth by establishing a Victorian Social Development Bank. Access to capital is a major barrier to growth in the community sector and for social enterprise start-ups. It is difficult to get long-term loans from commercial banks. Providing a government-owned ‘bank’ can help provide low-cost capital to the sector, support social enterprise start-ups and allow more innovative use of capital to lower service delivery costs.
For example, community organisations could save rental costs by investing in premises or investing in IT platforms to reduce transaction costs. This model also replenishes its funding, as capital is recycled when it is paid back through loan repayments.
Promote fulfilling, exciting community sector careers
Promoting community careers will help to secure a growing workforce. While community services industry jobs are rapidly growing, they are often not known about or discussed in the community, and not considered by school leavers or jobseekers. This means many people who would love the chance to move into caring, compassionate work in a growing industry miss out.
Develop innovative approaches to grow the workforce While community sector workers are committed and skilled employees, the industry is changing, with new roles and expectations around person-centred services and co-design. Victoria can respond on multiple fronts to enhance career paths and provide superior services: supported traineeships, supported student placements, upskilling existing workers with extra training and professional development, and greater partnerships between community employers and training providers.
Design contemporary qualifications for first-rate graduates
Victoria should lead the country in advocating for world-class community service qualifications that prepare graduates for the compelling and diverse career options ahead of them. The current qualifications framework is not fit-for-purpose in an increasingly person-centred and complex social care future. Refreshed qualifications with modern competencies can better prepare graduates for their future employment demands.
Build the Aboriginal community sector workforce through coordinated planning
Self-determination is the overarching guiding principle for Aboriginal affairs in Victoria. Achieving this in the community services industry will require a strong and sustainable Aboriginal workforce, and Aboriginal leadership in governance and management. Victoria can help build the Aboriginal community services workforce by working with the Aboriginal community-controlled sector and the mainstream community sector to undertake coordinated planning and develop a sector-wide Aboriginal workforce strategy.
Secure solid data to guide workforce planning
Victoria can only plan for the future of community services job growth if it has a strong grasp of the data. But quality data is hard to find. Victoria is approaching a critical deadline to collect strong workforce data to synchronise with the coming jobs surge. By developing a meticulous workforce data compilation program, tracking change over time and in different industry segments, we can maximise the dividend from workforce growth.