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Young people struggling to find jobs but getting politically active – study

31 October 20180 comments

Young Australians are becoming increasingly pessimistic about their futures and the chances of finding sustainable jobs, according to new research.  

New data released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) shows the proportion of 23-year-old Australians who believe that a lack of jobs is why they can’t secure work has more than doubled to 72 per cent in the past ten years.

The study, titled ‘Life at 23: Then and Now’ uses data from the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY) to provide a snapshot of how study, work, attitudes and home life have changed for Australians aged 23 in 2017 when compared with those of the same age in 2007.

“Seventy-five per cent of today’s 23-year-olds perceive their lack of experience as another barrier to obtaining work, while the proportion of those who feel they lack the right kind of education or training has jumped from 40 per cent to 50 per cent over the past 10 years,” said NCVER Managing Director Dr Mette Creaser.

The figure is higher for some cohorts of young people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, the study says.

More than a third of unemployed young people reported lacking confidence when it comes to applying for jobs. Others reported feeling that their age was counted against them by employers when considering their applications.

Changes have been wrought in personal finance also with the report saying the proportion of 23-year-olds who own credit cards has almost halved from 45 per cent to 25 per cent over the past decade.

And the proportion of those entering the housing market has also fallen from 14 per cent in 2007 to only 8 per cent in 2017.

At the same time, young people are now remaining in education for longer, with around 30 per cent of 23-year-olds still studying in 2017, compared with 24 per cent in 2007.

“Coupled with longer periods of study, today’s young people are becoming more qualified, with increasing proportions obtaining a bachelor’s degree or higher,” Dr Creaser said.

“Young people are also less likely be in full-time employment, with higher proportions in part-time work, unemployed or not in the labour force,” she said.

There is also evidence of changes in how young people access information, engage with society and take part in physical activity.

Around 91 per cent of today’s 23-year-olds are using the internet on a daily basis (up from 68 per cent in 2007) and there has been a corresponding decline in those reading books, newspapers and magazines.

However, the extra screen time does not seem to be impacting the share of young Australians who engage in daily physical activity, which has changed little over the last 10 years.

Over the same period, there has been a significant rise in the amount of young people engaging in community activities like political groups, community radio and performing arts, increasing from 26 per cent in 2007 to 42 per cent in 2017.

The LSAY survey program, tracks 15-year-olds over a ten-year period as they move from school into further study and training, work, and into adulthood providing insight into key perspectives and changes for young Australians.


Laurie Nowell

Senior Journalist