JobKeeper comes to premature end

The number of workers on JobKeeper dropped by more than half from 3.6 million individuals last September to 1.54 million in December but it is clear that there are many businesses that still need assistance to keep afloat.

Transport, postal and warehousing, arts and recreation, education and training, accommodation and food services, professional, scientific and technical services were much more seriously affected than other sectors for obvious reasons. 

Businesses in Victoria, the state with the longest lockdown in the country, are naturally slower to recover than other states. Victoria’s reduction in people on JobKeeper from September to December was 44% compared with other states at 60-70%.

We get that propping up zombie businesses doesn’t make sense but it cannot be that up to half of all businesses remaining on JobKeeper should be doomed to fail.

A nation-wide, 28 March cutoff date is totally arbitrary and unfair.

The PM’s (re-released) Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements scheme – 70,000 new apprenticeship subsidies of $7,000/quarter – is put up as a way forward but it’s yet another case of women missing out. Just two to three percent of women employed in Australia are currently tradies.

There has been some progress in recruiting women as tradespeople, with training organisations such as TAFE and larger employers implementing policies and programs to help recruit, train and retain women. However, gender diversity is as important in this sector as any other and there is a long way to go. 

The PM misses an opportunity to encourage women, to provide the education and support needed for women to take on careers in trades. It also needs to send a clear message that the macho culture in the construction industry needs to change before women see that trades are for them.

It’s a well-paid industry. Women who want to be tradies should be able to share in that.

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