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Secretary's review

Photo of Kerri Hartland
Secretary for the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Kerri Hartland

I am pleased to present the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Annual Report 2018-19. It highlights our achievements and outlines the work the department has been doing to help job seekers find a job, help small business to grow, and foster safe, fair and productive workplaces.

The department makes a difference in the lives of many Australians.

Throughout 2018–19, the department worked towards the outcomes stated in our Corporate Plan. We have developed and continued to strengthen our partnerships and collaboration with our major stakeholders including employers, unions, employees, our network of employment services providers, job seekers, the Australian public and other Commonwealth agencies to help more people looking for work into jobs, and to support fair, productive, flexible and safe workplaces.

The jobactive program continued to deliver strong performance in job placements and employment outcomes. Since its introduction in July 2015, jobactive has achieved more than 1.37 million job placements, over 400,000 of them leading to sustainable employment. jobactive links employers to local providers who work closely with them to understand their recruitment needs and provide a tailored solution.

We have continued to work closely with other government entities during 2018–19 to deliver better employment outcomes, particularly for regional Australians. The Regional Employment Trials (RET) program was successfully implemented on 1 October 2018, investing $10 million in grant funding across 10 disadvantaged regions. Through the delivery of tailored local employment solutions, the program includes the engagement of Employment Facilitators in each trial region to work with stakeholders and help them develop and implement the local employment initiatives.

We have also continued to deliver better employment outcomes for vulnerable groups including mature-age Australians and young people. The department successfully implemented the Career Transition Assistance Trial on 1 July 2018 in five trial regions to assist people aged 50 years and over to increase their employability and become more competitive in the labour market. Over 1,000 people have commenced in the Career Transition Assistance service.

Over 36,000 participants in the Transition to Work service have been placed into a job since the start of the service in February 2016. The service is designed to provide intensive pre-employment support to improve the work-readiness of young people aged between 15 and 21 to help them into work. In 2018–19 the program was expanded to include 22 to 24 year-olds. Indigenous young people now make up over 30 per cent of the caseload.

Youth Jobs PaTH continues to offers a flexible approach for young people gain skills and work experience.

The department supported the development and passage of two important pieces of legislation, the Fair Work Amendment (Repeal of 4 Yearly Reviews and Other Measures) Act 2018 and the Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Act 2018, which both passed in December 2018. Both pieces of legislation reinforce workplace laws to protect vulnerable workers and include strengthened penalties to deter unscrupulous employers.

In June 2019, our representatives attended the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Key outcomes from the conference included the adoption of a Centenary Declaration reaffirming the International Labour Organization’s objectives in a changing world of work, and a new international standard on ending violence and harassment in the world of work.

Towards a skilled workforce for the future

While some of the department’s priorities have changed as part of the formation of the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, our focus on the challenges of globalisation, technological progress and demographic change that affect the skills required in the workplace and the ability of workers to transition between jobs remains of key importance. Ensuring that the workforce can successfully navigate these changes will promote increased productivity and labour force participation, and provide businesses with a skilled workforce for the future.

We continue to deliver our ongoing policies and programs to assist job seekers to find work and foster the growth of small business. The addition of vocational education, training and apprenticeships places the department in a central role in delivering on the Government’s commitment to growth in employment by providing better access to quality skills and training.

The new employment services model, to be trialled from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2022, will provide digital employment servicing for work-ready job seekers and enhanced services for disadvantaged job seekers. The new model is scheduled to start in July 2022.

We will continue to assist small businesses by supporting the wellbeing and digital capabilities of small business owners. The expansion of Every mind's Ahead for Business platform and the establishment of a dedicated online portal will assist business owners in accessing the right resources to take care of their mental health. Through the Australian Small Business Advisory Service Digital Solutions Program and the Small Business Digital Champions Project, small businesses can gain dramatic results in revenue and job creation by adopting digital capabilities.

Our role is even more important in the continuum of education and skills, employment and job creation. We will ensure that the right training and employment systems are in place to lift the capacity of new entrants to the labour market, assist those already in the workforce to continually acquire new skills, and support small businesses to invest in skills and access these systems.

In the year ahead, a prime focus is to implement the Skills Package to deliver skills for today and tomorrow by improving the quality of the vocational education and training system. This includes responding to the expert review of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training System led by the Hon Steven Joyce. Delivering on the government’s agenda for skills and training should lead to major improvement in linking businesses with the skilled people they need.

I would like to thank all staff for their hard work and dedication over the past 12 months, which brought significant change to the department. Their professionalism and expertise ensure we are well placed to continue to successfully implement employment, small business, and skills and training policies and programs.

Kerri Hartland Signiature