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Youth employment pressures hit 40 year high: new report

A new report by the Brotherhood of St Laurence has found that 659,000 young people were not adequately employed in February

By Chris Shearer

March 28 2017The number of young Australians looking for work or extra hours has reached a 40 year high, according to a new report by the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

The Generation stalled: young, underemployed and living precariously in Australia report, released yesterday, estimated that 659,000 young people, or around a third of the youth labour market, were not adequately employed in February.

13.5 per cent of 15-24 year-olds were unemployed, and a further 18 per cent had some employment but wanted more hours.

“Along with high rates of youth unemployment, [young people] are also negotiating the threat posed by underemployment – which has now become an entrenched feature of the youth labour market,” the report said.

Youth underutilisation and its components in Australia, February 1978 to February 2017

Via: Generation stalled: young, underemployed and living precariously in Australia

The head of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Tony Nicholson, said the new figures were alarming developments.

“The record level of underemployment and stubbornly high unemployment particularly hurts the 60 per cent of young people who don’t go to university and lack the qualifications and skills to navigate the fast-changing modern economy,” he said.

“Young people starting out today face a much harsher job scenario than their parents or grandparents.”

The report noted that while all ages of the workforce are experiencing the effects of a decline in traditional employers and the rise of part-time and casual positions, inexperienced young people are more likely to have insecure work.

This could not be explained by more young people combining study with work, as the greatest rise in part-time and casual positions has been among young workers not studying.

Aaron, 19, lives in the outer suburbs of Melbourne and has found it difficult to find full time work since finishing high school in 2015. In the past month alone he’s applied for 50 jobs, but has only had one interview.

“It’s definitely frustrating and, at times, really defeating,” he says.

“A lot of the full-time roles I’m finding… they’re more advertised for people with a lot of experience and I think a lot of what I’m noticing is that in order to get a full-time position you have to start part time.

“I need something stable full-time that I can go to every day and earn enough money to start my own life, but I think right now, the only possibility is to start with part-time or casual roles and hope that it grows into more.”

The federal employment minister, Michaelia Cash, told Guardian Australia that the government was addressing the problem by funding several programs designed to help young people develop skills to break into the workforce, as well as focusing on building a stronger economy “that enablers employers… to create more job opportunities”.  

The Brotherhood of St Laurence is engaged in an ongoing national campaign to raise awareness of the youth unemployment crisis in communities across Australia and offers a number of employment support and training programs.

Watch: Aaron talks about his struggle to find full-time work