COAG: Retraining for the retrenched and improved conditions for foreign students

Posted October 13, 2011, by Josie Chun

All workers retrenched during the economic downturn will now be eligible for government-subsidised training, under an agreement that will be announced at today’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Darwin. This initiative is an extension of COAG’s Compact with Young Australians – a series of education and training measures developed to ensure that every young person is able to access an education or training place, which was agreed upon in April.

With today’s extension, the Government predicts that an extra 124 000 people will be entitled to receive assistance with vocational education and training.

This assistance will be welcome indeed, as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is anticipating rising unemployment for some time to come. It is estimated that half a million Australians will lose their jobs by July 2010. Many cuts have already been made in both large and small organisations, at all levels, and across a multitude of industries. Unlike in the past, when it took someone made redundant an average of three months to find a new job, it now takes closer to four-and-a-half months.

However, changes to redundancy laws, which came into effect on July 1, will now force employers to explore alternatives to retrenching staff, such as redeployment. This means that employers will have to look within their own companies for alternative roles, as well as available positions within related companies.

Still, many redundancies will undoubtedly occur, so the government-subsidised training will provide some relief to those who have been felled by the retrenchment axe.

Today’s COAG meeting will also address the plight of foreign students and will develop measures to improve their treatment and living conditions. These include better accommodation, personal safety, cross-cultural understanding, awareness of rights and obligations, and working rights.

Josie Chun

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