Application brings new deal for unemployed

A new application being rolled out by the Employment Service will change the way the Labour Department business unit deals with unemployed people. The Individualised Employment Application (IEA) replaces a system where unemployed have had to register with the department to get the dole - a process taking six weeks or more - which Employment IT manager Colin Thorpe describes as "very loose".

A new application being rolled out by the Employment Service will change the way the Labour Department business unit deals with unemployed people.

The Individualised Employment Application (IEA) replaces a system where unemployed have had to register with the department to get the dole — a process taking six weeks or more — which Employment IT manager Colin Thorpe describes as “very loose”.

“IEA is very structured,” he says. “When people come through the door they will be given a full interview and all their details will be taken.

“A work plan will be formulated that has a number of steps that have to be completed for them to get a job.

“We will be able to assess whether they are at risk of becoming long-term unemployed and to tailor our response accordingly.”

In 1994, the Employment Task Force decided the department had to change the way it did business. That led to a $31 million, three-year computerisation project which moved the department off dumb terminals and on to PCs.

IEA, which has been developed by CSC, is a $2.1 million component and critical to the whole exercise.

“We’re re-engineering the business,” Thorpe says. “There are new business rules and processes.” He describes the rollout of IEA as very aggressive. It began at the end of December with a pilot in six branches and is expected to be completed by the end of March.

“It was a full case tool development. CSC used Oracle Developer and Designer 2000 to get the full functionality of case.”

Rather than award one single contract to CSC, Thorpe broke it up into three phases, each in two parts.

“We gave them a chunk at a time. If they had mucked it up we could have gone elsewhere for the rest. But CSC has done very well from my perspective.”

The contract had no penalty clauses for either party if the government had changed direction part way through the project.

A full year before the application rollout, 1400 PCs were installed. Thorpe says he was working in a “green field”, with only terminals having been used before, which made it relatively easy to enforce strict disciplines.

All the PCs have a standard image that the user can’t change; the A drive is disabled, and they can’t see the C drive. All software is delivered centrally — Employment is rolling out new updates each week — and problems can also be solved centrally because support staff can take over the mouse remotely. That’s led to big savings by keeping support staff to a minimum and eliminating travel and accommodation costs across the country.

The network is also managed centrally.

Employment had developed a Web site, initially as an aside at a cost of just $30,000. But it’s now in the process of enhancing the site by putting up job vacancies. Thorpe says the next step is for employers to be able to list vacancies, then for individuals to list their skills.

The site is hooked into Immigration’s Web page via a hot button.

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