A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline; it is condemned to bleed to death – Kofi Annan.
Cold hard figures indicate the youth employment issue could be costing the economy a minimum of $11 billion.
These are the findings of the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) who noted even if youth unemployment and underemployment were just brought in line with the rest of the population, it would generate up to $11.3bn additional GDP for Australia.
It comes as statistics note the unemployment rate is 13.3 percent while underemployment of young people is at its highest in 40 years.
So what needs to change?
The FYA argues young people are ill-prepared for a changing workforce where employers now seek skills unique to the technological age. They note 70% of young people will enter the labour market in jobs that will soon be lost or automated. Meanwhile, the employment sector is growing in areas that require a knowledge base and enterprise skills.
It’s a sentiment echoed by The Smith Family who recently found a series of factors affected the employment landscape for youth:
- While hospitality and retail remain steady industries, these provide unsteady employment.
- Major opportunities for youth have been lost in the primary industries, manufacturing and trade sectors.
- Employment growth has occurred in the knowledge sectors but skills, experience and qualifications are required to gain entry.
- Apprenticeship and training opportunities, which provide an entry point for young people seeking initial employment, have dropped.
Where once employment was about training or job specific skills, the FYA further notes a rise in employers seeking “enterprise skills” rather than industry credentials.
These include: presentation skills (25%), creativity (65%), critical thinking (158%) and digital literacy (212%).
In stark contrast they found 35% of Australian 15-year-olds demonstrated low proficiency in problem solving, 27% had low proficiency in digital literacy, and 29% demonstrated low proficiency in financial literacy.
“For Australia to remain competitive in an increasingly globalised workforce, our young people must be equipped to drive our economy forward. To do so, they will need to learn transferable enterprising skills now to prepare them for the economy of the future, so they can become job creators, not just job seekers, and navigate more complex careers.”
Meanwhile mentoring and on the job training continues to play an important role. The Smith Family explains five core elements are essential for engaging young people in the jobs market now and into the future.
These include: Stable economic supports, relationships and networks, a capacity to asses jobs based on demand and supply, access to job readiness skills and employability skills, and finally, “the opportunity to undertake skill development which is formally recognised and valued by both the labour market and the jobseeker”.
“Stakeholders agree that improving the labour market and training options for young people requires change not just to the quantum and composition of skilled workers (education and training and labour supply), but to the recruitment and management of labour as well.”
What we do
The Father James Grant Foundation’s Mission Engage Program understands the job market is changing. We arm our participants with workplace experience, confidence and interpersonal skills tailored specifically for real-world employers. To do this we work in partnership with real businesses and provide young people with real access to mentoring, training and support.
You can learn more about being part of the youth unemployment solution here.