25 March 2009

"Probity and confidentality agreements" hide government approval of Brit carpetbaggers entering employment services industry

Local job agencies lose out as Brits court Canberra" is is a headline in today's Australian:

Several of the nation's best-performing job agencies are about to be stripped of their government contracts as two new British players enter the market.....Job Futures, a significant consortium with 100 sites nationwide, has been told by the Department of Employment & Workplace Relations that it has lost the tender for most of its Tasmanian and some Victorian operations...However, two British firms without any prior interest in Australia, A4e and Reed Employment, are being encouraged to enter the market.A4e and Reed , neither of which is linked to Therese Rein's British business, have been told they will be given business to enter the market.

Yesterday's Age was on the case earlier with a similar, though more accurate, headline: "Local job agencies jittery as Canberra looks to Britain"

The Salvation Army and other high-profile job agencies are preparing to shed jobs as the Federal Government looks to overseas firms to provide employment services.The Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations last week contacted several agencies to tell them they had become "preferred providers", with those existing providers not contacted now worried that their services have been rejected or significantly reduced.The Age believes from industry contacts that The Salvation Army Employment Plus, the largest Australian job provider, has yet to be contacted by the department and management has told some Victorian staff their jobs are likely to go. Management at the Salvation Army refused to comment yesterday, citing strict probity and confidentiality agreements signed with the department.


David Thompson, chief executive of Jobs Australia, said yesterday a number of small not-for-profit centres who had received strong performance ratings over the years are also in limbo and expect to cut staff.

Industry sources said yesterday highly rated agency Jobs Futures and Direct Recruitment, and another Victorian firm, Ostara, have not received notification. Nationally the NSW not-for-profit Wesley Uniting Employment, the South Australian firm Jobs Statewide and Western Australian indigenous employment specialist Bridging the Gap, also highly rated, are unsure of their future.


It is understood that two large British providers, A4e and Reed Employment, have been told they will be offered contracts and are in negotiations with the department.A spokeswoman for the Federal Minister for Employment Participation, Brendan O'Connor, said the minister could not comment because of probity and confidentiality agreements.This is the first time employment services have been fully tendered since 2002.

Since 2002 the not for profit employment services sector has been cut back by the Federal government's (actually governments') policy of competitive tendering. Neither The Age nor The Australian has pointed this out. perhaps they should listened to this week's ABC RN'sCounterpoint discussion about the diminishing role of the not for profit sector.

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