Andrew Forrest’s recent address to the National Press Club signalled another war of words with the Gillard government, this time over his plan for indigenous jobs. Forrest used the occasion to criticise the government’s approach to training indigenous job seekers, arguing that billions was being wasted on training programs that failed to lead to sustainable employment.
In making his case, Forrest relied on a key set of figures. He stated that while the government’s efforts at assisting indigenous job seekers to find work through its Job Services Australia scheme have resulted in a retention rate of only 45% over three months, his own indigenous jobs program — the Australian Employment Covenant — has effected 10,500 job placements and a retention rate of more than 70% after six months. According to Forrest, this is evidence that his model works where the government’s approach too regularly fails.