GFC still hurting employment prospects of youth as young men and women confront different hurdles: report

09 November 2015

Seven years on, the long shadow of the global financial crisis continues to undermine job prospects for Australia’s youth, with different impacts being felt by young men and young women.


Today, teenage boys and young men who are in the labour market, are more likely to be unemployed, according to a new trend analysis published by the national welfare agency the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

Meanwhile, young women are more likely to be underemployed – to have some work but wanting more hours, and so not even counted in the official unemployment rates published each month.

The analysis – published today as part of the Brotherhood’s Youth Unemployment Monitor – highlights the different challenges the two sexes face in an employment market that demands more experience and skills than ever before from Australia’s emerging generation.

'Young people lacking experience must negotiate a modern economy that is rapidly shifting to a knowledge and service base, striving to be internationally competitive and demanding more than ever of all its employees – including its new entrants,' said the Brotherhood’s executive director Tony Nicholson.

Overall young jobseekers have been under intense pressure in their hunt for work: as at August 2015, nearly 290,000 young people were entirely out of work across the nation – more than 50 per cent above, or 100,000 more people – than at the start of the GFC in 2008.

The figures are detailed in the welfare agency’s latest analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics trend data, which also found:

  • The unemployment rate for young men is two percentage points higher than for young women: at 14.6 per cent (men) compared with 12.5 per cent (women). 
  • 19.9 per cent of female 15–24 year olds in the labour market – almost one in five – are underemployed, compared with 15.4 per cent of young males in the same age group.

Business leader David Gonski adds his voice to youth employment campaign

Leading businessman David Gonski, who led the landmark inquiry into school funding known as the 'Gonski review', has added his voice to the Brotherhood’s ongoing campaign for youth employment.

Penning a column for the Youth Unemployment Monitor, Mr Gonski looks back at the lives of his grandfather, who left school in his early teens, and his father, who was a brain surgeon, to reflect on how education and skills shape life chances.

'Being educationally disadvantaged for whatever reason – including lack of funds – doesn’t mean that one isn’t clever and able to do well at school and beyond,' Mr Gonski writes.

'This concept was the essential thrust of what our review of school funding... recommended should be the basis of funding of schools throughout Australia. We advocated strongly for a 'needs-based funding model', which put simply is a model that recognises that those facing educational disadvantage may require additional assistance.

'This idea has not fallen on deaf ears and is now the basis of most school funding systems within Australia.

'The problem, of course, is that to fully implement our recommendations and not take away money from other priorities, more money is needed. Each time I hear that point being made, however, I think: what if someone had used money to address the educational disadvantage of my grandfather? The result undoubtedly would have been an improvement in his life and, given his capabilities, an increase in his productivity, with benefits to his society generally.’'

MEDIA INQUIRIES: contact Deborah Morris on 0499 300 982

Read: the trend data report ‘Paying a price: Young men and women experiencing joblessness in Australia’ 

Read: David Gonski's column »

View video: job seeker Robert on looking for work when you live 75km from the CBD without a car (2:46 minutes). 

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Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

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We will support our staff, volunteers, clients and the community if they experience violence.

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