(Australian Associated Press)
A coalition government youth internship program has fallen well short of its target of 30,000 placements a year, with a little more than 5000 people successfully completing it.
Since April 2017, 3933 business have signed up to the Prepare, Trial, Hire (PaTH) program, significantly fewer than the 18,000 to 20,000 the government said would be needed to achieve the target.
Figures revealed at Senate estimates on Wednesday showed 5619 young people have completed internships through the scheme.
“The fact that it’s not even expended to a quarter of its capacity looks like a policy failure,” Labor senator Deborah O’Neill told the hearing.
Liberal frontbencher Linda Reynolds said of the 8234 young people who started placements through PaTH, 70 per cent were employed three months later.
“That’s an important and successful thing to note,” she said.
The government has spent at least $4.2 million on advertising PaTH, which aims to help young people gain skills and work experience for employment.
Jobs Department officials confirmed one business had been kicked out of the program and asked to hand back $17,000 of taxpayers’ money after 17 interns weren’t offered a job.
“It looks like it’s got some pretty dodgy businesses on the hook,” Senator O’Neill said.
Senator Reynolds said the department had proved it had strong compliance measures in place.
“It is a very successful program,” she said.
The business was asked to give the cash back by December but hasn’t responded.
Department official Greg Manning didn’t believe the firm was trying to rort the program, saying it was a new organisation which had promised something it couldn’t deliver.
The government changed the eligibility criteria at the mid-year budget update in December to scrap a six-month waiting period in a bid to get more people involved.