In 2017–18, our purpose was to foster a productive and competitive labour market through employment policies and programs that increase workforce participation, and facilitate jobs growth through policies that promote fair, productive, flexible and safe workplaces. Over the last 12 months, the department has been successful in achieving its purpose and progressing its vision of ‘More Jobs. Great Workplaces’.
As noted in the department’s 2017–18 Corporate Plan, this accomplishment has occurred in an environment where there were a number of external environmental factors over which the department had little to no control. This included the ongoing impact to the Australian economy from new markets, technologies and forms of work, all driven by our connection to the global economy. Ongoing structural change is an established feature of the Australian economy.
In the month of June 2018, the trend unemployment rate was 5.4%. Over the year to June, the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage points. This continues a gradual decrease in the trend unemployment rate from late 2014 and is the lowest rate since January 2013. Over the past year, trend employment increased by 318,000 persons or 2.6 per cent, with 15 to 19 year olds contributing around a third of trend employment growth since January 2018.
The 15 to 19 year old input to trend employment growth is encouraging as it is an area specifically targeted by the department – the youth unemployment rate has historically been more than twice the total unemployment rate. Youth Jobs PaTH helps young people gain the skills and work experience they need to get and keep a job. In just over 12 months, over 20,000 young people have completed Employability Skills Training (EST), the ‘prepare’ element of PaTH. More than 30 per cent of young people who participated in EST have moved into jobs or internships.
Youth Jobs PaTH is an example of the suite of policies and programs directed at achieving the department’s purpose, specifically initiatives to support vulnerable cohorts into jobs. Other key drivers of the department’s overall performance success over the reporting period include:
- a policy framework to encourage fair, productive and safe workplaces;
- a capacity to undertake research and analysis to inform future program and policy development; and
- the department’s capable staff, systems and information technology infrastructure.
These are discussed more fully in the Annual Performance Statement and more broadly throughout this Annual Report.