Creating a new deal for young Australians
25 August 2020 at 5:57 pm
Researchers say young people are struggling to make the transition from education to employment
Community organisations are calling for the development of a Youth Futures Guarantee that offers young people the skills and support they need to successfully learn and find a rewarding job.
The National Youth Commission Australia (NYC) has released a discussion paper looking at the future needs for young people as they transition to sustainable livelihoods and a successful career.
It has conducted an independently funded inquiry – supported by more than 130 community groups – that included 70 discussion groups with over 800 people.
With the national unemployment rate for people aged 15 to 24 consistently double the average national rate for people between 25 and 64, the NYC is concerned by the erosion of traditional employment pathways that have led to a sharp decrease in the number of young people in full-time work.
It has proposed a Youth Futures Guarantee, which lays out a framework of reforms and initiatives designed to help young people meet these employment challenges, while also benefiting local businesses and the wider Australian community.
“Throughout the NYC inquiry some clear messages were reiterated over and over about the key foundational pillars required for young people to transition successfully through these critical stages in their lives: from school to further education and training, from education and training to a working life, and into independent living,” the report said.
“We propose that Commonwealth, state and territory governments agree to commit to – and resource – a Youth Futures Guarantee built on [nine] pillars.”
These pillars include education and training, job creation and links to employers, fair pay and income security, housing, climate justice, and transport.
A Youth Futures Guarantee would involve a wide range of activities and interventions to address the range of factors stopping young people from transitioning to independence.
The report said a critical factor will be “the alignment and coordination of investment in training, skills and employment policies and programs to enable all young people to reach their full potential”.
This call has been backed by The Salvation Army, which said a Youth Futures Guarantee would mean a stronger future for young Australians after the COVID-19 crisis.
Major Jenny Begent, The Salvation Army’s head of social mission, said this proposal would provide the opportunity to give local areas a say in funding and planning decisions for economic stimulus and job creation.
“A national youth guarantee would also provide the resources for employment services and other services that could be better applied to local plans, while offering a community-wide opportunity to collaborate with young people to agree and work towards shared goals at the local, state and national levels,” Begent said.
“Most importantly it would involve young people in decision-making and civic participation more comprehensively by engaging them in shaping their own futures.”
Major Begent said the Salvos believed that despite Australia’s apparent prosperity, the prospects for young people leaving school and entering the workforce have been steadily declining.
“Since the COVID-19 crisis started The Salvation Army has seen a 30 per cent increase in the proportion of young people seeking emergency relief across the country. The impact of the pandemic will worsen transition outcomes for young Australians,” she said.
“As the economy emerges from the coronavirus shutdown, and Australian governments are considering investments in recovery, we have a real opportunity, and an urgent moral imperative, to protect and build a better future for our young people.”
YMCA Australia has also strongly backed the report. National CEO Melinda Crole said the guarantee clearly spells out what young people need as they navigate the transition from school to work, and from entry-level jobs towards sustainable long-term employment.
“There can be no doubt that young people are among those most significantly impacted by the immediate impacts of COVID-19 with upheavals in their education, training and employment pathways and disruption to social connections at a time when they are establishing life-long foundations for successful economic, social and civic participation,” Crole said.
“Young people of today will be the 30 and 40 somethings of tomorrow – so unless we collectively make the investment in young people now, our future tax base, our future workforce and our future leadership will be eroded. Our economic recovery depends on it.”
The full report can be seen here.