‘I know it’s not always easy, but always keep your head up’: overcoming youth unemployment


19 December 2016

Belal el-Baba, 21, spoke at a Brotherhood of St Laurence youth employment forum earlier this year. In our new short video, Belal makes some pressing points about a rapidly changing jobs market.


Belal, who is now studying and working, spent the past two years living at a Brotherhood youth foyer. Our foyers, run in partnership with Launch Housing, are housed on TAFE campuses and support young people who have been homeless with accommodation, education and employment

"I grew up in Broadmeadows (in Melbourne's north), which is typically associated with a strong level of disadvantage," he told the forum, which was held to launch a new OECD report on youth policy in Australia. 

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, an economic think-tank made up of developed nations, says it's critical that young people get the skills they need in order to compete in the modern economy.

"There's a need to improve the completion of vocational training programs [and] apprenticeships," says Dr Stéphane Carcillo, senior OECD economist. "In Australia, the completion rates are below other OECD countries." 

Dr Carcillo also said more affordable childcare needs to be available to help disadvantaged young mothers get into the workforce.     

In 2015, 580,000 young Australians were not in work or education, according to the report.  

"There's an ultra-competitive labour market, just to get a job at Maccas, or any retailer," says Belal.

"I know it's really easy to become discouraged," he adds, "but always keep your head up high."

Read a summary of the OECD report

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The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.