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Wednesday, 26 July 2017
Careers more like jungle gyms than ladders for Australia’s young

Young people’s careers will be more like jungle-gyms than ladders, and we are not preparing young people for the increasingly casualised and insecure ‘gig economy’ they are entering. Today’s average 15 year old is expected to have 17 different jobs across five different industries in their lifetime. 

The two foundational skills sets young people need to not just survive but to thrive in their career are ‘portfolio skills’ in entrepreneurship and career management, developing specific skills and capabilities in these two areas that can be transportable.

These were some of the insights shared by Jan Owen, AM, CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) to YMCA leaders at the recent YMCA CEO Forum in Melbourne.

Jan said the age-old question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was no longer relevant.  “The dream job is gone, the job for life is gone, but skills and capabilities are transferable.”

She says a new “whole new mind set” is needed by previous generations, parents, educators, and Governments about the needs of young people, with 4.3 Million young Australians, of which:

  • 31% are under-employed
  • By the time they finish their education they will be $24,000 more in debt than their parents at the same stage of life
  • They will carry three times the amount of debt than their parents did to buy their first home
  • It will take them an average of 2.5 years to gain any employment on completion of higher education
  • 60% of young people are studying and training for jobs that will not exist in the next 5-15 years, with 7 in 10 jobs to be transformed by technology and the forces of automation, globalisation and flexibility.

Growth areas were in these three key categories:   1. Informers (eg, teachers, economists).  2. Carers (eg GPs, fitness instructors, social workers, 3.  Technologists (eg programmers, website developers)

The entrepreneurial skills needing to be taught to young people include collaboration, team work, problem-solving and creativity.

Career management skills include skills such as budgeting, finance and marketing to help young people successfully navigate and manage their career, seeing themselves as a “business unit” in their own right.

Ground-breaking research conducted by the FYA showed that today’s employers are favouring ‘soft skills’ in their recruitment of young people including 1) digital literacy 2) critical thinking 3) creativity 4) bilingual skills 5) presentation and communication skills.   And employers were paying more for entry-level graduates who could demonstrate these skills.

Jan says the FYA shares the YMCA’s belief in the power of inspired young people, and despite the challenges, remained relentlessly optimistic about young people’s capacity and future, but a totally new mindset about young people was required.

YMCAs in Australia already currently providing social entrepreneurial programs and opportunities for young people include YMCA Victoria, who has been working in this space for a few years.  See more at http://youthforcauses.ymca.org.au/   And YMCA WA has opened a space at their youth space HQ where young can find training and support for their social enterprises.  More here.   They’re also currently running a competition “Pitch Please” for young people to pitch their ideas for social enterprises.

Links to the Foundation for Young Australians “New Work Order” Research Reports from which the data referenced in this article is drawn.  Today (27th July) FYA will launch the latest research report in this series, the New Work Smarts.

New Work Order

How Young People Are Faring

New Basics: 

New Work Mindset: