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By Matthew Franklin
The Australian
March 16, 2009 12:00am

JULIA Gillard is planning a massive program of skills training and Year 12 retention, fearing that the global recession could create a lost generation of young people stuck on dole queues for so long that they become unemployable.

The Deputy Prime Minister plans in the next two years to target hundreds of thousands of young people unable to find their first job, with incentives to either stay at school and complete Year 12 or to undertake skills training.

And she will also aim assistance at people in their 40s who are made redundant to prevent them from spiralling into long-term unemployment and poverty, The Australian reported.

Yesterday, the Rudd Government moved to free up as many as 18,500 jobs for tradesmen by slashing the permanent skilled migration intake this year by 14 per cent.

Lynne of Central Coast It also removed building and manufacturing trades such as bricklaying, plumbing, welding and carpentry from its list of skills in critical shortage in Australia, leaving Australian tradespeople to pursue job vacancies with less competition from migrants.

The nation’s unemployment rate is forecast to reach 7per cent by July next year, consigning 300,000 people to dole queues, either because they lose their jobs or are unable to find their first job after leaving school. Many economists expect the jobless lines will be even longer.

Yesterday, Ms Gillard said the Government’s next major policy package to respond to the crisis – labour market reform – would specifically target first-time job seekers and the middle-aged.

“We don’t want a situation where we have generations of people who are basically unemployable because they lose their jobs or can’t find jobs,” Ms Gillard said. “It has happened in past downturns and we have to move now to make sure it doesn’t happen this time.”

Ms Gillard refused to outline the details but said she would propose sweeping reform at the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments, not yet scheduled but due within weeks.

COAG would consider “reform that will engage more young people in education and training for longer to help prevent them drifting into unemployment in the next two years”, she said.

She said young people’s chances in life were significantly diminished if they became disengaged from both work and study. She said 300,000 Australians aged between 15 and 24 were now not engaged in education or work.

The latest government estimates suggested this figure could increase by 50,000 by July next year.

http://www.news.com.au/business/story/0,27753,25192211-462,00.html?referrer=email

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