Thursday, July 08, 2004

"Mature-age job-seekers not receiving the assistance they’re entitled to"

When I read reports like this (also here), I’m reassured that GenX’s (and mine) stereotype of boomers and old-age pensioners as greedy little fucks is based on considerable hard evidence.

About two-thirds of job seekers aged over 50 are on unemployment benefits for more than a year, and half in that age group are still out of work after receiving the maximum level of assistance.

Well, where are the comparison figures for younger job-seekers, COTA/National Seniors? I, for one, am “still out of work after receiving the maximum level of assistance”. More generally, I doubt that the statistical differences based on age would amount to much, particularly for my cohort (born mid-60s). The real difference is that no lobby group gets taxpayer (DEWR) funds to cry boo-hoo on behalf my generation. As to why a retirees’ lobby group is crying boo-hoo on behalf of still-of-working-age boomers underscores the artifice of the whole exercise. Oh, and I’ll run nude through the Bourke Street Mall if only 60 per cent of GenX have had negative experiences with Job Network.

For most of us, Job Network is a compulsory pain in the bum, period. Only a boomer – correction, senior lobbying on behalf of a boomer – could possibly see Job Network as some kind of potentially useful service, if only they weren’t so age discriminatory. Enter then, a new irregular verb for boomers: “I’m entitled, he/she/they has/have to”.

Should I here shatter the comforting, silver-service illusion that goes with the concept of “entitlement”? Point out that there’s seven or so unemployed for every job vacancy, and Job Network well might not magically be able to fairy-wand-away this fact?

The real subtext, of course, is that the more-recent of the older unemployed are looking jealously over their shoulders over their peers who got-on in the good old days, onto the disability support pension, that is. Until a few years ago, was de riguer for an over-50 unemployed person to “graduate” to the DSP. Nowadays, we have this, and yesterday, this from the mouth of Employment Services Misister Mal Brough:

[Job Network has] already helped tens of thousands, of people with disability, but seeking further improvement is a worthy objective and quite the opposite of the previous government that simply put hundreds of thousands of people on the disability support pension to get them off the unemployment queues.*

Translation: you’re in the laundry now, older-unemployed. But, from the looks of it, you’re going to get to jump the ordinary queue, and go straight into the expensive hand-wash pile-to-nowhere. For Job Network, it’s a boon all over again, after the last year or so’s “shaking the tree” debacle/nice-little-earner [take your pick] – after all, why face the grim facts of job supply and demand when you can be running glossy ad campaigns:

Job Network providers were offered funding for advertising campaigns to promote the scheme and to employ staff, contact disability pension recipients and get them actively looking for work.*

* Patricia Karvelas, “New push for disabled jobs” The Australian 7 July 2004 (no URL)


As the SMH predicted, Labor released its policy on mature-age job seekers today.

Its money-shot:

"With an ageing population and growing skills shortages in key industries, wasting the skills and experience of mature age Australians is not an option."

While wasting the skills and experience of GenX Australians is an option, apparently. Perhaps because unemployed GenX graduates don’t exactly need training in information technology, or “literacy and numeracy assessment”, then we don’t exist, eh, Mark Latham?

OTOH, specialist “career centres to help mature-aged jobseekers find work” and a
$47 million “rapid assistance service” – again for the mature-aged only – sounds like the first draft of the old, age-segregated graduate-onto-the-DSP “wink wink” arrangement; only a more expensive version, that is.

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