Transport woes a roadblock for young jobless: new report

21 November 2016

Alpha Cheng, whose father was killed by teenager radicalised by ISIS ideology, joins campaign for youth jobs

Young unemployed Australians confront serious transport challenges as they try to conduct their job search with 41 per cent of 18 to 24 year-old jobseekers not having a driver’s licence, according to a new report from the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

As youth unemployment approaches 13 per cent, the national welfare group’s data analysis found a quarter of young jobseekers aged 15 to 24 say transport issues are a key barrier for not being able to find employment. Strikingly, the research found that overall 61 per cent of unemployed people aged 15 to 24 lack a driver’s licence.

In its ongoing campaign to spotlight the generational challenge of youth unemployment, the Brotherhood of St Laurence regularly publishes a Youth Unemployment Monitor. Alpha Cheng, whose father Curtis Cheng was fatally shot in Parramatta a year ago by a teenager radicalised by ISIS ideology, today joined the Brotherhood’s campaign for youth jobs.

In the latest issue of the Youth Unemployment Monitor, released today, Mr Cheng makes a deeply personal plea for a more inclusive Australia. Mr Cheng said in the column he wrote that he drew strength from his migrant parents’ values. “One of the main reasons for our emigration from Hong Kong to Australia was so that my sister and I could have a better education here,” he writes.

“Unfortunately, not enough young people in Australia have such opportunities. Students who are aged 15 in lower socioeconomic groups are three to five years, or more, behind their peers in the highest socioeconomic groups. Education should be the great equaliser, but in many cases and postcodes, it is still the great barrier.” 

Mr Cheng, who was inspired to become a teacher after visiting a friend teaching in the remote Aboriginal community of Mimili in outback South Australia, writes: “Students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds without adequate support, dedicated teachers, access to technology and hope for the future will be at risk of continuing in a cycle of disadvantage. Youth unemployment stems from this lack of equitable access to education.”

Drilling down: 268,000 people aged 15 to 24 in the labour market can’t find work

Meanwhile, analysing the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data, the Brotherhood said the underlying national trend rate for youth unemployment among 15 to 24 year-olds was 12.8 per cent in October 2016.  This means 268,000 youth in the labour market were unable to find work. The current youth unemployment rate is well in excess of rates in 2008 before the global financial crisis, which were below 9 per cent.

Analysis of this data by the Brotherhood also reveals that 15 to 24 year-olds in the labour market are three times as likely to be unemployed as those aged 25 and over, for whom the unemployment rate is 4.2 per cent. 

The Brotherhood compiled the new report on youth unemployment by drawing on data from the Household Labour Income and Family Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey for 2014, and for 2012 when respondents were asked about holding a driver’s licence. 

“Youth unemployment in Australia is concentrated in fast-growing outer suburbs of our major cities and in regional areas where public transport options are notoriously limited,” said Brotherhood Executive Director Tony Nicholson.

“Our data analysis points to what young people living in these youth unemployment hotspots on the outskirts of our cities and in regions repeatedly tell us: lack of accessible transport to connect them to the available jobs and job interviews poses a  worrying impediment to their job search.’’ 

MEDIA INQUIRIES: Jeannie Zakharov on 0428 391 117 or Sharon Lee on 0499 300 982 regarding interviews with a Brotherhood spokesperson

Read Alpha Cheng’s column for the Youth Unemployment Monitor

To find out more about the data in this media release read the Brotherhood’s new report: U-Turn: The Transport Woes of Australia’s Young Jobseekers



The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) acknowledges and understands its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognises that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and care, and to be safe from all forms of abuse. BSL has a zero tolerance towards child abuse. Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

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