The Federal Government is making good on its threat to reduce the number of school leavers going straight on the dole. In May the Government announced a tough ‘earn or learn’ caveat to income support. This would make it mandatory for school-leavers to seek employment for six months before receiving the dole.

Now the Federal Services Minister, Kevin Andrews, has taken another step by hinting at ‘vocational orientation’ during school to determine those at risk of future unemployment. Mr. Andrews is likely to release more details in his speech to the Australian Council of Social Services. But it is thought likely a discussion paper outlining shakeups for the welfare system will be produced in the next few weeks.

It seems the Government is very interested in being able to spot at-risk groups so they can more effectively set measures to avoid or minimise the problem. “I think,” Mr. Andrews told reporters, “one of the things we need to do is be looking at when young people are 14, 15 or so, and having some sort of assessment of where they are up to in life.”

How already overburdened, underfunded schools will react to this announcement is yet to be seen.

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