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New research: 80% of young people struggle to find or keep jobs – and young people and the Y have solutions

December 9, 2021 Young People

Y Australia (formerly YMCA Australia) has released a comprehensive report today on the barriers to young people’s economic participation and employment.

More than 650 young people across Australia took part in the ‘Economic Participation and Employment Pathways Project’ for the Y, funded by the Australian Government’s Youth Advocacy Support Grants Scheme. Its findings concluded that:

  • 80%* had either themselves faced challenges in finding or retaining employment, or knew someone who had.
  • 90%* of those living in regional or remote areas said there was not enough opportunities to work in the area where they live, and
  • 53%* said they don’t believe what they learned at school helped them find the job they want.
  • Just over half of those surveyed (56%) indicated they were aware of their rights as employees and in the workplace.

Many of the barriers and concerns identified by young people related to:

  • A lack of available jobs where young people lived
  • Transport issues
  • Lack of experience
  • Discrimination
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Aligning passions and interest with work
  • Understanding the process and the system.

The 7 key policy recommendations from young people were:

  • A national initiative focusing on life-ready and work-ready skills for young people
  • Secondary education curriculum reform including a greater focus on skills-based outcomes
  • Investment in youth specific and -targeted employment initiatives tailored to local youth needs
  • Mandatory minimum requirements for mental health and wellbeing support in the workplace.
  • Funding for a suite of programs to ensure workplace diversity, inclusion and psychological safety
  • Funding for suite of programs co-designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people to ensure culturally safe employment practices
  • Place-based initiatives in regional, rural and remote areas to optimise the engagement and employment of young people in these areas.

The Y solution  

The Y also has a real solution to many of these issues and continues to seek support to establish our new Y Careers Agency.  Modelling has shown this initiative could give 25,000 young people meaningful jobs over the next five years. It would provide mentoring and training in up to 42 ‘hot spot’ regions across Australia where there is a high demand for carers and young people needing employment.

“Our solution will help create a pipeline of workers for the aged care sector – where there is a critical skill shortage and we will see vast increases in demand in the coming decade. The same is true for disability and child care. Y Career Agency would also help keep young people in their local communities and enable more Australians to ‘age in place’,” said Susannah LeBron, National Advocate for Youth Employment for the Y, and CEO of the Y NSW.

“The care sector shortages across Australia are critical, and in most states and territories the youth unemployment rates and underemployment rates remain unacceptably high.

“Many young people are scarred from their experiences during the global pandemic and need structured support to gain entry into the workforce, to change careers, and to secure stable and meaningful employment. The Y can provide that for young people and provide pathways to a wide range of stable, caring careers that they may not have considered before – including aged care, in home care, care for people living with disabilities and childcare.

“Our new research clearly backs up the need for the very real solution we’ve had on the table for over a year, and we hope that the Government will take a closer look at the Y Careers Agency and invest in this as a solution. For us, and for many of the employers we’ve spoken with, it’s a no-brainer.”

*300 young people were surveyed, with another 350 taking place in facilitated in-person and online workshops run by young people engaged by the Y, to gain more in-depth feedback on the issues.

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