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The World Bank organized a study tour to Australia aiming to expose participating officials from the MENA region to the Australian experience regarding Employment Policies and Social Safety Nets. This visit was part of the activities of the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Community of Practice on Active Labor Market Programs (ALMPs) and Social Safety Nets (SSNs).
This study tour was intended to provide participants with an opportunity to learn from the Australian experience in implementing a results-based approach to contracting non-government employment service providers. A particular focus was placed on operational issues including, but not limited to the selection of providers, procurement and contractual arrangements, results-based incentives and payment options and monitoring and evaluation.
The tour included senior representatives of three MENA countries (Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia), one from Brazil, and three representatives from the World Bank.
Scope of the Activity
Part one in Canberra included presentations from a range of government program administrators working in youth services, income support, apprenticeships, labor market analysis, employment services procurement and contract management, disability services, job seeker assessment and skilled immigration. Most of this time consisted of presentations in Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relation’s (DEEWR) office, but delegates were also given the opportunity to visit the Department of Human Services’ customer service center (Centrelink) where they observed first-hand the job seeker registration and classification process as well as more complex counselling and assessment interviews.
Part two in Sydney included visits to four employment service providers (including a specialist disability employment service) in a variety of locations across the metropolitan area. Delegates were able to speak with operational staff about the processes they use to overcome job seekers’ vocational and non-vocational barriers to employment and to broker sustainable job placements with employers. The group also visited the Australian Industry Group, a peak employer body, to discuss its perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of the Australian system, and the State Office of DEEWR, where officials shared their experience in day-to-day administration of service contracts and explained how local service coordination was achieved.
The last part of the tour was spent in a smaller regional community, Bathurst. This largely rural town is located approximately 200 kilometres west of Sydney and delegates visited another three providers, including a “Group Training Organisation” - an organisation that employs a large number of apprentices under training contracts and places them with host employers ( in an arrangement similar to labour hire).
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