United Front Needed to Tackle Youth Unemployment - ACOSS
8 August 2014 at 3:28 pm
The Australian Council of Social Service has called on businesses, communities, unions, social services and governments to unite in tackling unemployment in Australia after recent unemployment figures showed a spike in the unemployment rate for 15 to 19-year-olds, from 17.8 per cent to 20.4 per cent.
“If we don't do this, a temporary weakness in the labour market will become an economic and social disaster,” ACOSS Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
“The latest unemployment figures expose the folly of policies that cast young people adrift without income support for six months and make them search for 40 jobs a month.
"The reality is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find work, not easier. In many parts of the country, the jobs simply aren’t there. There are less jobs available to young people now than there were before the GFC six years ago.
“The answer is not to make people search harder, or push them into failed ‘work for the dole’ programs.
"The starting point for policies that work to reduce youth unemployment is the transition from school to paid work. Young people are not getting the career advice and support they need at school, and schools are not well connected with local employers and support services.
“The Youth Connections program is providing that support, but in the same Budget that cuts unemployment payments for young people, that program lost its funding.”
Dr Goldie said ACOSS had welcomed the recent announcement of wage subsidies to give long-term unemployed young people a foot up in the tough jobs market.
“Wage subsidies in regular paid jobs are much more effective than working for the dole,” she said.
"However, the Government has largely ignored cost-effective proposals that are widely viewed as likely to help, such as the joint recommendations from the Business Council of Australia, the ACTU and ACOSS Alliance on how to remove barriers to employment for people disadvantaged in the labour market.”
Social Ventures Australia (SVA) said the headline and youth rates had also climbed, to 6.4 per cent and 14.1 per cent respectively, higher than they’ve been in over a decade.
It said the figures showed the critical need for job creation, alongside specialist and evidence-based approaches that support younger people in particular to find employment.
“These figures show that job creation should be the number one priority for the government in dealing with Australia’s unemployment challenge,” SVA Executive Director Kevin Robbie said.
“If the number of available jobs is declining, the reality of a job simply can’t be realised for everyone, no matter how hard they try.”
According to University of Melbourne Economist Jeff Borland, the best way for a government to reduce unemployment is to keep economic growth as high as possible.
“Another way to improve labour market outcomes for young people who are unemployed is through targeted programs that help them to be ‘job ready’ and create pathways to employment,” Borland said.
“These pathways are best created at the local level in partnerships between employers, non-profits and service providers.”
Robbie said SVA urged the Government to put renewed effort into job creation, and to think very carefully about support for people looking for work in the context of an increasingly constrained labour market.
“We are at a critical juncture for young people in particular, so significant new employment policies must have a strong evidence base to support their effectiveness,” he said.
“Given the lack of available jobs compared to job seekers, policies that compromise an adequate safety net for young people are coming at a difficult time.”