The Turnbull Government are persisting with their totally ineffective and deeply exploitative PaTH internship program, despite dismal numbers indicating that the $750 million dollar initiative is a crock of shit.
The internship scheme purports to provide young unemployed people, aged 15 to 24, with “employability skills” before sending them into an internship where they’re paid a measly $4 an hour by the government to work 15 to 25 hours a week, for up to 12 weeks. The young person may then score themselves an actual job, the company pocketing either $6500 or a whopping $10,000 from the government on top of the $1000 fee they already received for taking on an intern in the first place.
Only 200 young people actually got a job in the first four months of the PaTH program – since the beginning of April, only 1,015 internships have started and 7000 young people have begun employability training.
It’s a far cry from the government/Employment Minister Michaelia Cash‘s target of 30,000 internships a year over four years.
The government will even be expanding the program to jobs in pubs and clubs, with the Australian Hotels Association now, like Bakers Delight and the Australian Retailers Association before them, happily taking on a bunch of young people as staff they don’t actually have to pay for three months. Now that’s commitment to avoiding having to pay penalty rates.
In a statement, Labor‘s Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Brendan O’Connor brought up concerns regarding penalty rates and the way the scheme – like any internship really – is a threat to the very existence of entry-level jobs:
“Instead of coming up with a serious jobs plan to help bring down Australia’s high rate of youth unemployment, the Turnbull Government is rolling out programs that are replacing properly paid, entry level jobs.”
The Australian Council of Trade Unions kindly pointed out that such an arrangement could cost up to 10,000 proper paying jobs in the sector, because why pay for a minimum wage employee when you can get an intern for free?
ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said:
“This program is gifting young people to businesses, destroying jobs and not giving a single young person a useful skill or recognised qualification.
“Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister Cash are selling young people’s futures out from under them to shore up the votes of the business community.
“Huge numbers of young people are already priced out of education and skills training because they can’t find steady work and wages aren’t keeping pace with inflation. This program, which will tear the bottom of the labour market, is only going to make this dire situation worse.”
As a pint-puller, a person who pulls the pints, I do in fact have interpersonal skills that are worth more than $4 an hour. For instance I can pour a perfect Guinness and pretend to be very interested in the people I am serving who get this weird novel thing called a “weekend” AT THE SAME TIME. Boom: multi-tasking.
I deserve to be compensated for my time and skills – as do all of the young people in the PaTH program. It takes about two weeks in a pub to get this shit down, and you don’t even have to be warm and friendly if that’s the vibe your pub is going for. You just need to be able to clean up spilled wine.
By the end of that two weeks, they’re not a cumbersome intern you have to explain everything too, they’re a person working a JOB, not an internship – but being dramatically underpaid for the privilege.