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Disadvantaged Youth Place Higher Value on Getting a Job

28 April 2015 at 11:36 am
Lina Caneva
A new Not for Profit report surveying disadvantaged youth from across Australia reveals that they place a much higher value on getting a job than other young people.

Lina Caneva | 28 April 2015 at 11:36 am


Disadvantaged Youth Place Higher Value on Getting a Job
28 April 2015 at 11:36 am

A new Not for Profit report surveying disadvantaged youth from across Australia reveals that they place a much higher value on getting a job than other young people.

Mission Australia’s Youth Survey is described as the largest annual survey of young people in Australia, with 13,600 respondents in 2014.

Mission Australia’s Voices of the Vulnerable: Insights and concerns from young clients accessing our services includes a cross section of young people who are accessing the organisation’s employment, education, homelessness, drug and alcohol services and makes nine recommendations.

“Despite a backdrop of often challenging and complex issues, one of their main concerns is securing employment. In fact, our clients were more likely to prioritise getting a job compared to other young people,” Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans said.

“This evidence flies in the face of that very simplistic view of the world – that unemployed young people are lazy and feckless job snobs. What our report shows is that it’s not the will that is lacking, but quite often, the way.

“All levels of Government need to step up and make sure we are providing the support to help them realise those dreams.”

Getting a job was highly valued by 50 per cent of Mission Australia clients (extremely important: 21.0 per cent; very important: 29.0 per cent) compared with 30.9 per cent of national respondents (extremely important: 11.7 per cent; very important: 19.2 per cent).

Fifty per cent of Mission Australia clients were currently unemployed and looking for work, compared to 1 in 3 mainstream young people.

The report found that while education and hard work were the top two factors that both Mission Australia clients and non-Mission Australia clients felt might influence their future career opportunities, where you lived was the third top factor for Mission Australia clients while for non-Mission Australia clients, talent came in at number three.

The report said that many of the services participating in the survey were located in regional and remote areas or on the outskirts of major cities where there was reduced access to jobs and transport.

It found that this is particularly acute, when getting a job was the most common post-school plan for Mission Australia clients (27.7 per cent).

“We need to rethink our approach to supporting disadvantaged young people. There is a desperate need for better provision to transition vulnerable youths from school to employment. It’s a period of high risk when people can fall through the cracks. We need more investment in provision of additional supports, case management and place-based programs to guide them through that minefield,” Catherine Yeomans said.

“We’d love to see the private sector consider their role in supporting young people, such as our clients, to take part in meaningful work experience programs. Many of these young people may not have grown up in households where they watched people go off to work. But let’s break that cycle for them by accepting that it might take a bit more effort to bring those young people on board.

“The longer our youth remain unemployed, the harder it is for them to get a break – and the greater the impact not only on their financial situation, but also their health, their family relationships and their overall wellbeing. We cannot afford to ignore this.”

Key recommendations

From education to employment:

1)    Funding arrangements between Commonwealth and State governments should ensure that young people can access fully-funded education or training until they have acquired their year 12 or equivalent, regardless of the setting.

2)    Greater investment in youth transitions programs is essential to ensure young people on the margins of schools and at the risk of becoming disengaged make the leap to further education and employment. The successful Youth Connections service is a reasonable starting point for the devolvement of a new national program.

3)    Further investment is needed in a variety of career pathways including vocational education and training through school based traineeships and apprenticeships, as well as university access for those who aspire to it. Expanded apprenticeship and traineeship programs should reflect growth industries like aged care and childcare, not just traditional trades, though these are important, particularly for young men.

4)    Demand side initiatives should also be pursued, including examination of wage subsidies for employers, and ways to create meaningful work experience in conjunction with schooling to build the employability of young people into the future.

Place matters:

5)    Addressing heightened barriers to employment for young people living outside or on the outskirts of city centres is essential. This includes transport links, affordable housing, mobility support and introducing youth specialist coordinators in priority employment areas to work with local employers and young people.

6)    In locations of persistent disadvantage, long-term (greater than 10 years) community development approaches to generate improved social and economic outcomes for young people should be a priority.

Improving wellbeing and resilience – service and supports:

7)    Vulnerable young people have multiple concerns and have complex needs – ranging from housing, to mental illness, long-term unemployment, family conflict and drug and alcohol use. Intensive services for young people need to integrate multiple disciplines or have strong access to health and allied services in a more ‘client centric’ model.

8)    Disadvantaged young people rely heavily on friends and extended family for advice and support, and greater emphasis should be provided in developing peer-led programs which build young people’s capacity to support each other but also have the confidence to refer to professional services where they are needed.

9)    Community services need to have the remit and funding to work with families as well as the young person, particularly where there is evidence of intergenerational poverty.


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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