More vocational training needed to reduce youth unemployment

Nearly one in five unemployed young people have been out of work for a year or more, according to a disturbing new report out today from the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

The report,  ‘Prosperity’s Children’ reveals that more than 46,000 Australian jobseekers aged 15 to 24 meet the definition of ‘long term unemployed’.

This means the national youth unemployment rate is now back at 12 per cen – almost three times the 3.9 per cent unemployment rate for people aged 25 and over.  

“Despite Australia being about to notch up 30 years of overall economic growth, an estimated 265,000 young people today are in the unemployment queue,” said the report, part of BSL’s youth employment campaign.

The report, based on data including from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, highlights the intense pressure on young Australians compared to a decade when one in ten jobseekers were unemployed for a year or more.

The occupation group with the biggest projected increase in jobs by 2023 is personal carers and assistants in the caring economy.

“Our analysis exposes the cruel irony of being young and long-term unemployed in Australia as we approach 30 years of continuous economic growth,” said the Brotherhood’s Executive Director Conny Lenneberg.

The report found youth unemployment varied across states with Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia hardest hit with youth unemployment rates of 14 per cent or more. 

But job seekers can see some hope in this situation. The report found  training young people to become skilled workers in growth industries is important as low-skilled jobs in industries such as manufacturing and agriculture continue to decline.

It found that vocational education and training (VET) occupations that require a VET qualification and are likely to show the greatest increase in jobs to 2023 including:

  • personal carers and assistants
  • child carers
  • education aides
  • ICT support technicians
  • plumbers
  • electricians

Of these, the occupation group with the biggest projected increase in jobs by 2023 is personal carers and assistants in the caring economy. This is because Australia’s population is ageing and the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme has led to more jobs in this area.

Some 82,500 additional jobs are expected by 2023, of which 69,200 positions are expected for carers of people who are aged or live with disability.

However, the report questioned whether the nation’s vocational education and training system is on track to meet future demand in many fast-growing occupations.

“As we head into a new decade, reforming the vocational education and training system must be a top priority for policymakers. There’s also clear evidence that all young unemployed people on income support need access to a youth specialist employment service,” Ms Lenneberg said.