Job losses overstated in network overhaul

JOB service providers in Western Australia have painted a positive picture of the federal government's $4 billion Job Network overhaul despite reports to the contrary.

This week, the government released the winners of the tender process for its new employment services scheme, Job Services Australia (JSA), which comes into effect on July 1.

JSA will replace the Howard government's Job Network.

At the centre of media reports on JSA was the number of job losses that would arise from the consolidation of employment services.

Nationally, the number of service providers has dropped from 240 to 189, including sub-contractors.

Sixteen WA non-profit organisations and private businesses won contracts.

The Australian Services Union says the consolidation of services, including the folding of seven employment programs into one, and the reduction in the number of providers, will cost at least 2,000 people their jobs.

Jobs Australia, which represents 289 non-profit providers across Australia, also agreed there will be substantial job losses, but said the re-absorption of affected employees would reduce the overall number.

"The expected consolidation of the market is something everyone realistically accepted, it's just that some of the dislocation involved in the next generation is far greater than everyone expected," Jobs Australia chief executive David Thompson said.

"But it's important to point out that the bigger contract providers will be out there looking to hire those people.

"So the number of people who might end up out of a job at the end of the process I don't think will be substantial."

Cannington-based Communicare was successful in retaining its two contracts in WA but will experience a reduction in business volume because of program consolidations.

General manager Wayne Stevenson said the organisation would have to let some people go, however it was looking to increase employee numbers to supplement skills.

Final figures have yet to be determined, with Communicare currently re-doing its financial and service modelling, Mr Stevenson said.

Successful private provider The ORS Group won two contracts in WA out of three it tendered for.

Managing director Peter Scott said the business planned to significantly lift employee numbers, especially in the eastern states where it had secured 10 contracts.

ORS currently employs around 90 people in WA and 250 nationally.

However, Mr Scott declined to give an estimate of how many people the business will employ, saying ORS needed to make some manageable structural changes to realign services in successful areas.


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