When it comes to youth employment statistics the focus is often on the black and the white – those who have a job and those who do not.
Yet hidden behind the statistic that youth unemployment currently sits at around 12.71 percent is an equally frightening figure of underemployment.
It indicates that in addition to more than one in 10 young people being unemployed, a further 18 percent are underemployed.
The upshot is, a third of our young people either have no job or require more hours to meet their skills and economic needs.
Here’s an insight into underemployment and how it paints a telling picture of the youth employment landscape.
The underemployment problem
Last year the Brotherhood of St Laurence released their report, Generation Stalled. In it they noted:
“Young Australians face a much more brutish job scenario than their parents or grandparents ever faced. Along with high rates of youth unemployment, they are also negotiating the threat posed by underemployment – which has now become an entrenched feature of the youth labour market.”
When the report was published, the underemployment figure sat at 18 percent, making it the highest figure in the 40 years since counting had officially begun.
“The challenge now affects even more young people than unemployment,” Generation Stalled reflected.
In cold, hard numbers that meant as of February 2017, an estimated 282,000 young people were unemployed, and 377,000 people were underemployed, meaning in total 659,000 young Australians either did not have any work or had some work and wanted more.
Together, that statistic is known as the underutilisation rate, and Generation Stalled outlined some further findings.
“Young people are far more likely to be in casual and part-time jobs than at the beginning of this millennium.
“In the past 15 years the average gap has widened between the actual working hours of young underemployed people and the hours they would like to work.
“The growing number of young people combining study with work does not explain the rise in underemployment, as the rise in the percentage of casual and part-time jobs has mostly been among young workers who are not studying.”
What it means
While unemployment can lead to a devastating cycle of diminished self-esteem, depression, and welfare dependence that can result in a lifetime of limited job prospects, the impacts of underemployment are no less confronting.
The result is a situation where young people are actively working but reaping little reward.
A report to government noted underemployment created a class of “working poor” that experienced social exclusion.
“Social exclusion is the new poverty and social reality for millions of people in casual and low-wage jobs, which is a fast-growing section of the Australian workforce,” it stated.
“Individuals and communities are being left behind in the wake of Australia’s accelerating two-speed economy.”
Meanwhile, the Foundation for Young Australians explained if youth unemployment and underemployment rates were brought in line with the adult labour force, it would generate an additional $11.3bn to the GDP through the extra 125m hours worked.
What we do
The Father James Grant Foundation partners with corporate entities and organisations to offer on-the-job training and mentoring for young people looking to enter the workforce.
We tailor each program to the business involved; working with business to impart the skills they require and instill the employee ethos they seek.
If you are a business looking to participate, there are two ways to become involved: you can assist through workplace training or mentoring, or alternatively, assist the program through sponsorship.
Either way, the businesses involved are helping to change Australia’s employment landscape at a time when the youth jobless rate is at its highest in years.