As reported here, as many as one third of Australian youth, where youth is defined as those between 15 and 24, are unemployed or underemployed. This is the highest rate of combined unemployment and underemployment among this segment of the population for over 40 years which suggests that young adults are facing an unusually tough labour market. These trends are concerning because evidence suggests that unemployment during one’s youth can have negative effects on a number of important outcomes, including income levels both now and into one’s future, as well as physical and mental health levels (see, for example, here and here).
With so many young adults finding limited or no work, it is important to understand what are the causes of youth unemployment and what are some potential solutions. Here, we present three of the primary causes for the recent rise in youth unemployment and suggest some strategies to solve unemployment.
1. A lack of marketable skills
Many young adults today have not had opportunities to work as interns or apprentices and have not been able to learn the necessary skills to help them stand out in the current competitive labour market. Without training and work experience, it can be very difficult to find any type of work, and it can be nearly impossible to find work that will lead to a stable and fulfilling career.
Of course, the most obvious solution to this problem is for young adults to gain more training and work experience however possible. Well-designed training programs, like the Ready for Work program at yourtown , are effective ways to begin gaining skills that one can use to gain and keep a job. These programs provide training in basic skills that are in high demand, as well as information on how to find and keep work in a number of different career paths.
2. A lack of a professional network
Another key problem for many young adults is that they do not have a well-developed professional network that can be relied on to give referrals for open positions. The easiest way to find work is through personal contacts. However, professional contacts are most often made in early-career internships, apprenticeships, and other work. Making that first step into the professional world is often the most difficult.
The training program at yourtown helps young adults take that first step into the professional world by providing workshops with local employers, industry visits and work experience placements. The connections that someone makes while going through the program at yourtown will serve her or him well throughout an entire career.
3. Limited information on how to find and keep work
A final major issue for young adults is that many have not been provided with the necessary information to find and keep work. The labour market can be an overwhelming place for those who have never been able to find steady work. Often, someone just needs to be trained in a few skills and pointed in the right direction.
In addition to finding and being hired for a suitable position, it is important to know how to keep a job once hired. Retaining work requires a knowledge of the behaviours that employers value and expect to see from their workers. In the Ready for Work program at yourtown, young adults are given individualized training on how to be valued by an employer once hired, and after the program is completed a post-placement support system is in place to help trainees stay employed.
The youth unemployment problem is an important one for Australia to solve. At yourtown we are committed to helping young people learn about the variety of employment options open to them and providing them with the skills necessary to have a rewarding career.