October 20, 2005


What Blunkett can learn from the Aussies: Patrick McClure, who steered through welfare reforms in Australia, will today tell a London seminar what the UK can learn from the experience. Here he previews his speech (Patrick McClure, October 20, 2005, SocietyGuardian.co.uk)

When the Australian government created the Job Network - the national employment service market - in 1998, it was considered by many to be a radical and risky experiment that might increase costs, create confusion and deliver less effective services for the unemployed.

Seven years later it's fair to say the experiment has been a major success - but it hasn't happened overnight. It's taken several years of fine-tuning and incremental reform. Nevertheless, Job Network today is a well-established system.

Prior to 1998, the Australian government was the national provider of job placement services delivering a brokerage service for all labour market programs.

But the system was costly, inflexible and delivered services based on a monolithic, "one size fits all" model.

Prior to the creation of Job Network it cost the government between A$10,000 and A$15,000 (£4,200-£6,300) for each employment outcome. However, under the current model, the cost has dropped dramatically to between A$5,000 and A$6,000 (£2100-£2500).

Total expenditure on employment services in 1995 - before the reforms took place - was A$3.2bn (£1.36bn). Last year, total expenditure was roughly A$1.9bn (£81m).

Overall, in 2004-05, the Job Network assisted 690,000 jobseekers into employment - an increase from 405,000 people in 1999-00.

So, while costs have declined, outcomes for long-term unemployed jobseekers have improved. The chief reason why the move has been a success is, quite simply, competition.

The way the three great states of the Anglosphere are feeding off of each other's Third Way reforms is creating a historically unique cycle of virtue.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 20, 2005 9:09 AM
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