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Retail internships for youths on welfare

Employment, job, workUp to 10,000 internships will be offered to unemployed youths in a deal struck between the Turnbull government and retail sector.

Jobless young people aged between 15 and 24 will undergo training before securing 12-week placements in major retailers over the next four years under the federal government’s PaTH internship program.

“They will get a start at a job and, you know what, they could go on to great heights,” the prime minister said in Sydney on Monday.

“They could go on to, like many others before them, running big businesses, owning big businesses and employing lots of other people, realising their dreams.”

Australian Retailers Association chief executive Russell Zimmerman says underprivileged youths will access the same opportunity as some of Australia’s most successful business people, who started out on the retail shop floor.

Zimmerman says retail is the country’s second largest employer of young people, eclipsed only by the health sector.

“Our retailers are already major employers of young people and these PaTH internships will now provide another way that employers can give young people a go,” he said.

“We need our young staff to have basic vocational skills and the mix of retailmeans you could need food training to tyre fitting qualifications before you can start on the job.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash have detailed the internship agreement in Sydney on Monday.

Senator Cash says the partnership is aimed at giving young people the necessary experience and skills to secure employment.

“It is a three-step program and it is all about getting our youth ready, giving them a go and getting them a job,” she said.

“When we say that the best form of welfare is a job, we mean it, and we will put both the resources and the programs behind it.”

Meanwhile the ARA also welcomed the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) decision to reinstate the position of retailb to the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL).

“The ARA have been the only retail industry body lobbying for further changes to the 457 visa program as many Australian retailers are constantly challenged by the availability of local talent to fill critical roles in the industry,” said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman said the ARA is concerned that merchandise planners, merchandise designers and digital commerce were not added to the STSOL, but will continue to identify various mechanisms to address skill shortages in Australian retail.

“With retail being a huge driver in the Australian economy, the ARA will continue to work with the Government to ensure highly skilled visa holders in key retail categories are supported,” he said.

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