Engaging Early School Leavers

Information about the Engaging Early School Leavers initiative announced in the 2015-16 Budget that commenced on 1 January 2016.

The $13.5 million Engaging Early School Leavers initiative forms part of the Youth Employment Strategy and will strengthen the chances of early school leavers finding and keeping a job.

Early school leavers who are not on a further education track will be supported to look for work and can be required to do so. This includes seeking opportunities such as apprenticeships or traineeships.

How will the initiative operate?

The measure comprises three elements, all commencing from 1 January 2016:
1) Compulsory job search

  • Early school leavers will be expected to look for work if they are not undertaking:
    • full-time education; or
    • a combination of education and paid work for at least 25 hours a week (or 15 hours for principal carer parents and people with a partial work capacity).

2) Year 12 Equivalency

  • Early school leavers will now have to attain Year 12 or a Certificate III (up from Certificate II), in order to no longer be subject to the 25 hours per week participation requirement.


3) Extending eligibility Education outcome payments

  • Early school leavers will continue to be given tailored assistance in their search for a job through jobactive. jobactive will continue to support young people who want to complete Year 12. Under the changes, the $1000 payment to jobactive providers when an early school leaver achieves Year 12 (or Certificate III), will be extended from 15-17 years olds to 15-21 year olds.

Who is affected?

This measure will affect early school leavers who:

  • are in receipt of Youth Allowance (other)
  • are 15 to 21 years of age
  • do not hold a Year 12 or Certificate III level qualification

Job seekers who gain a Certificate II level qualification after 1 January 2016 will remain an early school leaver until they turn 22 or gain a Year 12 or Certificate III qualification. Early school leavers who attained a Certificate II prior to 1 January 2016 and who subsequently return to income support after 1 January 2016 will not be subject to the new requirements.

What other support is available for young people?

This initiative is part of the Australian Government’s Youth Employment Strategy, announced in the 2015-16 Budget and is one in a range of programmes the Government is running to help young people get into work, including:

  • $322 million Transition to Work service to help those aged 15 to 21 who are out of work and not engaged in education with intensive, pre-employment support to improve their work readiness, including apprenticeships, traineeships or education.
  • $50 million Empowering YOUth Initiative to support young people at risk of welfare dependency into work by inviting not-for-profit community organisations to put forward proposals for innovative ideas that offer a different approach to those currently available.
  • Work for the Dole, part of jobactive, helps people aged 18 and over gain the skills they need to become work-ready.
  • The National Work Experience Programme which aims to build confidence and  real life work experience of job seekers and prepare them to meet expectations of employers by undertaking volunteer work experience with for-profit, not-for-profit and Government organisations for up to 25 hours per week for a maximum of four weeks per placement.
  • $224 million over four years for the Job Commitment Bonus which provides up to $6,500 to Australians aged 18 to 30, who have been on certain income support payments for 12 months or more, to find and keep a job while remaining off income support.

Want more information?

For further information on jobactive go to the jobactive website.

Information on income support and participation requirements for young people is available on the Department of Human Services website