Only 200 interns have secured jobs after four months of the Turnbull government’s flagship youth employment program as the Prime Minister ramps up efforts to get employers and young job-hunters to embrace the scheme.
The government on Tuesday unveiled a new commitment from the Australian Hotels Association, which has agreed to provide 10,000 internships in the nation’s pubs and clubs, but which unions quickly characterised as a “$10 million handout” to the hotels sector.
Mr Turnbull said the internships provided under the PaTH program would help young people break out of the welfare cycle.
But the news came as Employment Minister Michaelia Cash revealed only 200 people had secured a job through the PaTH program in four months.
The government said 1015 people have begun a PaTH internship while 500 have completed their placement.
It has committed to providing 120,000 internships over four years through the $760 million program.
Senator Cash defended the take-up by arguing the figure was “always up to” 30,000 per year.
The AHA commitment will see young Australians work and receive training as bar attendants, waiters, baristas and kitchen-hands, but has sparked fears on Tuesday that entry-level jobs in the hospitality industry could be replaced by internships.
Clara Jordan-Baird, national policy director at Interns Australia – which advocates for ethical internships – slammed the arrangement.
“Interns don’t need 12-weeks of unpaid work experience to learn how to do these jobs,” she told The New Daily.
“If we see spread of internships in these areas without regulation, it’ll become the norm that when people are pulling pints and waiting tables, they’re doing it for free.”
The Australian Council of Trade Unions claimed that the government had handed “$10 million of taxpayers’ money to eliminate 10,000 proper paying jobs for young job seekers in the hotel sector”.
“No business will employ someone on the minimum wage if they can get a worker 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.”
Employers will receive a $1000 subsidy for every intern they take on, and up $10,000 if an intern is offered employment.
Interns receive an extra $200 a fortnight in addition to their welfare payments and work between 15-25 hours per week under the PaTH program. The maximum fortnightly payment for a single person on the Newstart allowance is $535.60.
Labor – which opposed the program – argued on Tuesday that the AHA arrangement commitment meant “10,000 entry-level jobs will be displaced by interns”.
The AHA said its decision to promise 10,000 internships in the hospitality industry reflected the “
The Australian Retailers Association recently agreed to provide 10,000 internships among its members.