The Jobs Game opens with a story of a young mother who has been absent from the job market for eight years, and has found no luck in securing re-entry. She resides in Elizabeth, a suburb of Adelaide, Australia, where unemployment has reached epidemic proportions, afflicting nearly one in three of its citizens.
Her community, and the everyday struggles with which she must contend, are emblematic of Australia as a whole. The country is currently suffering its highest rates of unemployment in over twelve years. In response to this crisis, the government has formed Job Services Australia, a program designed to get people back to work.
At a cost of $1.3 billion a year, the program can have a far-reaching impact in nurturing a robust economy and in restoring the morale of its residents. But widespread fraud has sabotaged these efforts, and dashed the hopes of an eager workforce in waiting.
How prominent are these instances of fraud? According to a 2012 report from the country's Federal Department of Employment, only 40% of the fees paid by the program to job placement agencies are verifiable. In spite of repeated interview requests from the makers of The Jobs Game, the government officials in charge of implementing the program remain silent in the face of criticism. Nevertheless, the filmmakers set out to unravel the inner workings of the jobs program by featuring conversations with many of the ordinary citizens who must grapple with its deficiencies.
This film reveals a series of distressingly shady practices throughout the course of its investigation. Workforce training and jobs placement programs are booming industries thanks to the Job Services Australia platform, and their bottom line is only benefited by keeping as many people as possible reliant on their services. In order to maintain the guise of progress in securing jobs for its clients, many of these programs have indulged in fraudulent activities, even going so far as to forge client signatures on various employment forms.
All the while, job seekers and their families must suffer through needless bureaucracy, constant rejection, and in the most extreme cases, homelessness.