Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Youth in the firing line of jobs crisis

17 March 20150 comments
Photo credit: UNSW Australia

Photo credit: UNSW Australia

One in five Australians out of work are teenagers with young people bearing the brunt of Australia’s rising unemployment level, a new analysis has revealed.

Teenagers are in the eye of the nation’s joblessness crisis with the unemployment rate for 15 to 19 year olds hitting 20 per cent – a level not seen since the mid-1990s.

One in five unemployed Australians is a teenager, according to a report by national welfare agency the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

Older youth are also struggling with 15 to 24-year-olds increasingly unable to find work since the global financial crisis (GFC), according to the report, titled ‘The Teenage Dream Unravels: trends in youth unemployment.

“Teenagers are in the eye of this social and economic storm, and with the official national youth unemployment for 15 to 24 year olds reaching over 14 per cent, we need a national strategy to tackle the crisis hurting communities across the country,’’ said Brotherhood Executive Director Tony Nicholson.

‘’Youth unemployment is a key intergenerational issue. We need to tap into the productive potential of young people to secure future economic prosperity. Whether as policymakers, parents or concerned community members we also have obligations to the emerging generation to better build their capacity to secure work so they can build a good life for themselves.’’

More than 290,000 Australians aged 15 to 24 were unemployed in January.

Findings from the new report, which analysed Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, included that nearly 160,000 Australians aged 15 to 19 were unemployed in January, out of an overall pool of 780,000.

The report also said the proportion of unemployed Australians with less than a Year 12 education has fallen, while the proportion with some tertiary education has risen.

People with less than year 12 made up more than 44 per cent of the unemployed in every year from 2005 to 2010, then dropped sharply to 32 per cent in 2011 and 36 per cent in 2012. The proportion of unemployed with some tertiary education rose over the same period, the report said.

It said unemployment was still rising more than six years on from the GFC.

Victorian Senator Ricky Muir wrote of his own youth unemployment experience in the report

“It was soul-destroying,’’ he said.

Senator Muir revealed that he left school at 15 in the mid-1990s. Without financial support from his parents, he applied for many entry-level jobs, including abattoir work, near where he lived in Gippsland in Victoria.

Senator Muir wrote that he found being young and unemployed a very challenging experience.

“I couldn’t catch a break for a long time. It was soul-destroying,” he writes. He obtained his first job, in manufacturing in Melbourne, at age 17.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence says effective solutions must include implementing a national Youth Transitions Service – providing early career advice, targeted vocational training and, importantly, work experience – in youth unemployment hotspots across the country.

In January, the overall unemployment rate hit 6.4 per cent (seasonally adjusted). The youth unemployment rate for 15 to 24 year olds in January reached 14.2 per cent.

Sheree Peterson
AMES Staff Writer