Young people sidelined by 17% unemployment

February 3, 2012
Youth unemployment is more than triple the national rate

Recent national figures published by the Sydney Morning Herald show the rate of youth unemployment in Australia is well above the national average, hitting 17.3%.

The figure is more than triple national unemployment, which stood at 5.2% in December. Almost one in five people aged 15 to 19 and not studying are out of work.

The pace of job creation “slowed to a crawl” last year, the SMH said, and was the worst since 1992. But 63% of all jobs lost in December were worked by young people. This clearly indicates the disproportionate hardship young people experience in the workforce.

Young people are more likely to work unskilled and lower paid jobs in industries where union activity is weak or non-existent. In workplaces with salary tier systems, younger people are paid less than fellow workers regardless of whether they do the same work.

The rise of casual working hours makes young and inexperienced workers more vulnerable to intimidation and exploitation by higher management who can enforce obedience through the giving and withholding of shifts.

Bosses also avoid the cost of training young people. In February last year, it was estimated that Australia would soon face a skilled labour shortage of up to 36,000.

At that time there were about 425,000 young people employed as apprentices or trainees, yet figures show that less than half of young Australians who start training in a skilled profession finish their qualification.

A report to federal parliament also in February last year showed the below-minimum wage income was a big contributing factor to most young people dropping out. For a full week’s work, apprentices in some industries take home less than $300.

Low pay and high cost of living are driving many young people away from skills training and into other forms of precarious employment.

We hear a lot about the mining industry in Western Australia and the supposed “boom” it’s given the people living here. It has brought obscene wealth to a handful, but there is no benefit for many people living in the state. The boom has actually contributed to less affordable housing and higher living costs.

Research by UnionsWA shows that 27% of teens aged 15 to 19 in the south-west metropolitan area of Perth who are not studying are unemployed, double the rate of 2008.

Young people face particular hardship and discrimination, so it is not surprising they are often among the first social group to become radicalised and demand change.

Historically young people have played a unique role in social campaigns, and contemporary examples demonstrate this tradition is alive and well.

Last year was thrilling as millions of young people joined and, in many cases, led the huge upsurges across Europe, the Middle East and the US, huge groundswells of people determined to fight their dropping standards of living and to demand a more just and democratic society.

It is true that unemployment and economic hardship among young people in Australia is not as horrendous as that in Spain or Greece, where close to half of all young people are out of work.

Yet Resistance believes that activists must be engaged in a global fight against a capitalist system that prioritises profits over the wellbeing and betterment of all.

For this reason we can take great inspiration from young people round the world fighting for their rights and the needs of tomorrow, and it is for this common goal that our place as young Australian activists is right in the thick of it.


was hoping for an article about this, nice one mate!
That was me back in the 70s. After a while it is too hard to to go to interviews and answer difficult questions. And it is the most unconfident and unskilled who miss out on the jobs. It makes a huge impact on your confidence, and your life.
solve unemployment: Suggestion #1. Currently 5.2% of 11 million actual workers in Australia are unemployed. So, reduce all existing "working week" hours by 5% - ie: SHARE the work Suggestion #2. Solve the WELFARE COST complaints by Governments (who created the problem). Legislate for ALL employers to allocate 5% of their Full time positions to the categories of Aborigines unemployed, Disabled unemployed and Mature aged unemployed - as part time positions. End the humiliation, denigration and despondency of WELFARE. ie: NO MORE "employment agents", Employers must ACTIVELY SEEK these categories in order to satisfy their social responsibilities.
does anyone else get it ? Hello 2's company, 3's a crowd. Every Human problem derives from too many people (demand for resources). Over population will "hit the wall" when the finite resources of this planet are gone and unrenewable. Over population - Capitalism (never ending growth) - Human greed 4 Billion - 1970's was just right - hello ?

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