Not OK: one in five young jobseekers in Australia long-term unemployed

30 December 2019

Stubborn rate of youth unemployment hits 265,000 young Australians

Nearly one in five unemployed young people have been out of work for a year or more, according to a disturbing new report out today.

This equates to more than 46,000 Australian jobseekers aged 15 to 24 who meet the definition of being ‘long term unemployed’, says the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

In the new report, titled “Prosperity’s children”, the anti-poverty organisation also confirms the national youth unemployment rate – back at 12 per cent – is almost three times the 3.9 per cent unemployment rate for people aged 25 and over.

“Despite Australia being about to notch up 30 years of overall economic growth, an estimated 265,000 young people today are in the unemployment queue,” said the report, part of BSL’s youth employment campaign.

The analysis, from Australian Bureau of Statistics and other data, highlights the intense pressure on young Australians. Young people facing long term unemployment today are worse off than a decade ago, when far fewer of them – one in ten jobseekers – were unemployed for a year or more, compared with the nearly one in five now.

“Our analysis exposes the cruel irony of being young and long-term unemployed in Australia as we approach 30 years of continuous economic growth,” says the Brotherhood’s Executive Director Conny Lenneberg.

“There is no doubt youth unemployment overall remains an ongoing and urgent challenge – the national rate has again broken through to 12 per cent after an 18-month hiatus.

“We are deeply concerned the long road of prosperity is pitted with potholes for Australia’s youth. As a nation, we need to renew our efforts to help young people achieve economic security and reach their goals, like generations of Australians that came before them.”

The report also explores how youth unemployment varies across the country, identifying Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia as facing the heaviest burden of youth unemployment with rates of 14 per cent or more.

Key skills for near future include opportunities in care economy

The catchcry “OK boomer” may signify generational tensions, but the report also identified job opportunities for young people that include skilled roles to support baby boomers as they enter old age.

Looking to the future, the report says training young people to become skilled workers in growth industries is important, especially as low-skilled jobs in industries such as manufacturing and agriculture further decline in the 21st century.

Focusing on vocational education and training (VET), it identifies occupations that require a VET qualification and are likely to show the greatest increase in jobs to 2023 including:

  • personal carers and assistants
  • child carers
  • education aides
  • ICT support technicians
  • Plumbers
  • electricians.

Of these, the occupation group with the biggest projected increase in jobs by 2023 is personal carers and assistants in the caring economy, as Australia’s population ages and with the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Some 82,500 additional jobs are expected by 2023, of which 69,200 positions are expected for carers of people who are aged or live with disability.

However, for the emerging generation, the report questions whether the nation’s vocational education and training system is on track to meet future demand in many fast-growing occupations.

“As we head into a new decade, reforming the vocational education and training system must be a top priority for policymakers. There’s also clear evidence that all young unemployed people on income support need access to a youth specialist employment service,” Ms Lenneberg said.

Read the “Prosperity’s children” report (PDF, 131 KB)