188.8.131.52 Study & training
Social security law precludes full-time students from qualifying for JSP, unless they undertake a course of full-time education or training as a term of a Job Plan. The intention of this is primarily to allow job seekers who are unlikely to find work with their existing skills to complete courses with a vocational focus that will enhance their immediate employability.
Participation in a full-time course for JSP & YA (other) recipients - general rule
For most JSP and YA (other) recipients, participation in a full-time education or training course can generally only be approved by their provider or, if applicable, the digital services contact centre. The study must be included as compulsory item in a job seeker's Job Plan, and can only be approved if the course is less than 12 months in duration and:
- completing the course is likely to lead to an employment outcome for the job seeker, OR
- there is little chance of the job seeker finding employment with their existing skills, OR
- the course will lead to qualifications in an identified area of skills shortage, OR
- is on a list of courses in areas of high labour demand (see below).
Full-time academic courses cannot be approved for a JSP recipient just because they have exhausted their allowable time/reasonable time on a student payment. However, full-time academic study can be approved under the above conditions, for example, where a person has so far been unsuccessful in their job search and has only a semester to complete in order to obtain a degree that would greatly improve their employment prospects.
Full-time Masters or Doctorate study cannot be approved for JSP or YA (other) recipients except for people transferring from PP and for single principal carers who have been granted PES for a course - see below.
If a short course is approved and included in job seekers' Job Plan then the job seeker must generally still look for work and attend appointments with their provider (if applicable) as long as this does not conflict with the scheduled time of the course. However, a job seekers's job search should be adjusted to a level that will not interfere with their ability to undertake their approved study/training.
Where studying a course in an area of high labour demand, and the course would likely improve job seekers' employability, job seekers may initially restrict their job search to that area. For example, job seekers studying an aged care-related qualification should be allowed to initially restrict their job search to that field. However, providers and the digital services contact centre both have discretion to require job seekers to diversify their job search - particularly where previous job search in that area has been unsuccessful, or there is little immediate likelihood of finding work in the area studied.
Job seekers who combine work and study/training in high labour demand areas (see below) for at least 70 hours per fortnight are not required to look for additional work or participate in other activities. However, they should remain connected to their provider (if applicable), and may be referred to suitable work opportunities that do not conflict with their study or work.
Job seekers in online employment services
As part of their mutual obligation requirements, job seekers in online employment services may elect at any time to participate in study and training in high labour demand areas (see below). Eligible courses are limited to those offered through the online job seeker platform. Job seekers must have this study/training entered into their Job Plan through the online job seeker platform.
If job seekers in online employment services are working and studying for 40 hours per fortnight, or are participating in a full-time equivalent course, their job search will be halved. If these job seekers are working and studying for 70 hours per fortnight, they will fully meet their requirements and not be required to undertake job search.
Courses in areas of high labour demand
More flexible mutual obligation arrangements will operate from 28 September 2020 to encourage study in high labour demand areas. Both provider-serviced and online job seekers are able to have these courses approved at any time. Eligible courses are those offered through the online job seeker platform.
Participation in a full-time course for JSP & YA (other) recipients - principal carer parents & job seeker with a partial capacity to work
Principal carer parents (1.1.P.412) and job seekers with an assessed partial capacity to work (1.1.P.65) who are in receipt of JSP or YA (other) can fully meet their requirements through approved study, or a combination of approved study and paid and/or voluntary work, of at least 30 hours per fortnight included in their Job Plan. This means that they are not required to actively seek work or accept any offers of suitable employment in addition to complying with the terms of their Job Plan. For further information see 3.11.6.
Young people under 25 years of age, studying full-time approved courses should generally be assessed for YA (student). Recipients of YA (other) who are under the age of 22 years and have Year 12 or an equivalent (i.e. Certificate III or higher) qualification should be encouraged to remain in some form of part-time study or training until they have sufficient skills or qualifications to obtain sustainable employment. The delegate may consider an activity of part-time study in combination with other activities, including job search or part-time work, bearing in mind the job seeker's long-term as well as short-term needs.
YA job seekers who seek to undertake a full-time short course as an approved activity may do so when:
- they enrol in a full-time vocational short course of less than 12 months which would improve their short term employment prospects, or
- if they have exceeded the ALLOWABLE TIME for their course under YA (student) but still have less than 12 months of study remaining to complete their course.
Job seekers transferring to JSP or YA (other) from PP
If a principal carer (whether partnered or single) is undertaking full-time or part-time study as a PP recipient and then transfers to JSP or YA (other), then they can continue to complete their course of study even if the remainder of the course is longer than 12 months in duration. In addition, they will be taken as meeting all their mutual obligation requirements while completing their course as long as they continue studying in the same course for at least 30 hours per fortnight (including contact and non-contact hours).
Approved study (PES granted) for single principal carer JSP or YA (other) recipients
Single principal carers in receipt of JSP or YA (other) may undertake any course for which they are granted PES, including academic courses and courses longer than 12 months, and have this study count toward meeting their mutual obligation requirements. Where an approved course for which PES is granted is being undertaken full-time or for at least 30 hours per fortnight, this will fully meet their requirements, and the single principal carer will not be required to undertake additional activities.
Single principal carer JSP recipients undertaking approved part-time study of less than 30 hours per fortnight for which PES is granted, will be able to use this study toward meeting their mutual obligation requirements. However, they must remain connected to an employment services provider, or to the digital services contact centre, and must undertake additional activities to meet their requirements. Any additional activities a principal carer is undertaking in order to meet their requirements must not conflict with the principal carer's study.
Participation in a full-time short course for JSP & YA (other) recipients prior to entering employment services
Services Australia can approve participation in a full-time course for job seekers prior to entering employment services if the job seeker has been identified as requiring training under the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) or Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).
Services Australia can also approve participation in a full-time course for any job seeker prior to entering employment services or another relevant provider's program if:
- the job seeker has an offer of employment, confirmed by a letter from the potential employer, contingent upon their completing the course
- the course has a clear vocational application, and
- the job seeker is prepared to meet any additional expenses involved.
Approved part-time study or training (included as a compulsory term in Job Plan)
Where participation in part-time education or training will enhance the job seeker's employability, the part-time activity should be included as a compulsory item in the job seeker's Job Plan and other requirements can be reduced if necessary. These job seekers will only be required to accept suitable work which fits around the timing of their study.
Non-approved part-time study or training
Job seekers can undertake part-time education or training under their own initiative at any time, but if the activity is not approved and then included as a compulsory item in their Job Plan, they must continue to fully meet all of their mutual obligation requirements.
Accepting suitable work while studying
A job seeker with full-time mutual obligation requirements who is undertaking either full-time or part-time education or training as a compulsory item in their Job Plan can only be required to accept an offer of suitable employment if the hours of employment would fit around the timing of their study.
People with part-time mutual obligation requirements (e.g. principal carers and people with a partial capacity to work) are not required to accept any suitable work if they are fully meeting their requirements through their participation in approved education or training.
Requirement to attend employment services provider and/or Services Australia while studying
Job seekers undertaking education or training are still required to attend the office of their employment services provider or Services Australia if required to do so. However, appointments should be scheduled for times that do not conflict with the job seeker's study timetable.
Note: Principal carer parents and people with a partial capacity to work who are fully meeting their mutual obligation requirements are not required to attend provider appointments.
Using study to meet annual activity requirements (3.11.4)
Study and training can be used to count towards a job seeker's annual activity requirement where it meets short course approval conditions. However, only study at the Certificate III or higher level may be commenced once a person has annual activity requirements. (For SEE and AMEP, see 184.108.40.206 'Job seekers in jobactive who have an annual activity requirement'.)
Where a job seeker is undertaking study classified as full-time by the training provider, then the study will meet their fortnightly annual activity requirement hours for the fortnights in which they are doing full-time study. This is regardless of the actual hours undertaken (for example, a job seeker who has a 50 hours per fortnight annual activity requirement and undertakes 40 hours of full-time study per fortnight does not have to complete any additional hours in another activity while they are doing this full-time study). This includes full-time participation in SEE or AMEP.
Published non-contact study hours for job seekers undertaking part-time study also count towards a job seeker's annual activity requirement, as long as they do not exceed the course's face-to-face hours. Where a course's non-contact study hours are not published, up to a maximum of 10 non-contact study hours per fortnight can be counted towards the job seeker's annual activity requirement. Any non-contact study hours, as well as face-to-face hours, need to be clearly reflected in the Job Plan.
Act reference: SSAct section 613 Full-time students (JSP), section 606 Jobseeker Employment Pathway Plans-terms, section 607 Jobseeker Employment Pathway Plans-principal carers, section 607A Jobseeker Employment Pathway Plans-people with partial capacity to work, section 607B Jobseeker Employment Pathway Plans-requirement to participate in an approved program of work, section 544B YA Employment Pathway Plans-terms, section 501 PP Employment Pathway Plans, section 501A PP Employment Pathway Plans-terms, 731M SpB Employment Pathway Plans-terms
Study for SpB recipients
SpB is intended to be a short-term income support payment for people who do not qualify for any other type of SSAct payment and have no other means of support. While SpB is not intended as a payment for students, SpB recipients with full-time mutual obligation requirements may undertake part-time or full-time study provided they simultaneously undertake job search and other relevant obligations.
For the purposes of SpB, part-time study is generally defined as less than 20 hours study a week (including contact and non-contact hours). However, if the institution through which the study is undertaken classifies the study as full-time, it should be considered full-time, regardless of the hours involved.
For SpB recipients with mutual obligation requirements, full-time training or study can only be approved by their employment services provider, as part of meeting their mutual obligation requirements.
SpB recipients with mutual obligation requirements may undertake full-time study including a full-time course of vocational training if course is less than 12 months (2 semesters) in duration, completing the course is likely to lead to an employment outcome, there is little chance of the job seeker finding employment with their existing skills, or the course will lead to qualifications in an identified area of skills shortage.
Full-time tertiary studies such as bachelor degrees and above are generally not considered appropriate to fulfil mutual obligation requirements because they are not required for a person to undertake suitable work. In the limited circumstances where SpB recipients are permitted to undertake full-time tertiary studies, the intention is to allow them to gain the knowledge and/or skills that will assist them to undertake work in the future. As such, approval can be given if the SpB recipient has been unsuccessful in gaining employment and only has a semester (or 6 months full-time equivalent) remaining to complete the degree and the degree would greatly improve their employment prospects.
SpB recipients under 18 years of age may undertake full-time secondary study of more than 12 months duration. A recipient who turns 18 years while undertaking secondary school may complete that year on a full-time basis. Under no other circumstances can full-time study of more than 12 months duration be approved for SpB recipients.
Act reference: SSAct section 736 Secretary may require certain persons …, section 737 Full-time students