PaTH to bright future clear for Border interns in government scheme

Samuel O’Brien spent two years in an endless cycle of resumes, knock backs and online job listings in an attempt to find work. 

The constant cycle left him exhausted, but now the Albury man is hopeful for the future again. 

Mr O’Brien is one of thousands of Australians participating in the government’s controversial PaTH internship program. 

The scheme aims to provide young people with skills and work experience while giving employers an incentive to take on young workers. 

Mr O’Brien and fellow intern Alex Chaplin work with Albury Northside Chamber of Commerce.

“I’d been out of work since December, before that I had been on Centrelink for two years looking for work,” he said.

“It’s fantastic, it’s been great learning a lot of new skills and getting to interact with job providers. Because of who I am currently with, I’m meeting a lot of local business owners and it gives me the opportunity to discuss employment.”

However, the PaTH scheme has been accused of taking advantage of young job seekers. Interns Australia’s Dimity Mannering, previously warned the PaTH scheme, which effectively pays people to work at $4 an hour on top of the dole, might lead to increased exploitation of young people. 

"Internships can be great for young people and businesses, but providing $200 for 15-25 hours of work – $4 per hour – requires serious reflection,” she said.

“In real life, this may end up being a significantly underpaid work trial.”

Mr O’Brien said being in the community as an intern allows employers to put a face to his resume and has helped him gain experience and skills employers want.

He said eventually he wants to go to university and work overseas. He believes his internship experience has given him the confidence to pursue a career. 

“I think it’s fantastic for all job-seekers,” Mr O’Brien said.

“In my five-year plan, my dream job is international relations. Hopefully at an Australian embassy in another country.

“At the moment I’m trying to get a job and hoping to go to uni next year and get a business studies degree and then make it more specifically about international business.”

Mr O’Brien and fellow inter Alex Chaplin are coordinating a Work Connections Event 2017, to connect young people with work, experience and training. 

He said the October 20 event would help school children and job seekers get all the information they need from tertiary educators, TAFE, training organisation and workplaces.