26 August 2014

The youth unemployment rate has risen in most regions of Victoria over the past year, Brotherhood of St Laurence analysis of the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

The average unemployment rate in Victoria for young people (15-24 year-olds) in the year to July was 13.8 per cent, up from 12.3 per cent over the same period a year earlier. The welfare group's Executive Director, Tony Nicholson, said: “Behind these statistics are the human stories of the increasing number of young people who are missing out on job experience, a chance to build skills, confidence and of course earnings – all of which will help them establish independent lives.

"Policymakers have been sitting on their hands for decades and failed, as our support for young people is not keeping pace with changes to our economy in which unskilled and semi-skilled jobs have declined and employers expect to recruit fully trained and experienced workers.

"Some areas have been harder hit than others – the analysis shows that the highest rates of unemployment are in Melbourne's north west (17.2 per cent), Geelong (17.8 per cent) and Warrnambool and the south west (18 per cent)."

Mr Nicholson added: "As the Victorian economy continues to shift to a mainly knowledge and service base, and as the population greys, we cannot afford to have large numbers of our youth without the personal capacities to take part in the mainstream economic and social life of the state.

"The experience of our programs and our research is that young people are eager to work, and need support and guidance to enter a labour market when it's far harder to gain a foothold.

"We know that the damaging impact on these young people, including a lack of sense of self-worth, is likely to continue for years to come. Unemployment early in the working years of a young person often limits chances for work and earnings well into adult life."

The Brotherhood of St Laurence analysed Australian Bureau of Statistics data for Victoria, taking the average number of young unemployed people aged 15 to 24 in the 12 months to July 2014 for each region, and comparing those to the equivalent period one year earlier, to July 2013.

In February, the Brotherhood of St Laurence launched the My Chance, Our Future campaign for youth employment to track the growing crisis.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeannie Zakharov, Senior Communications Manager, 0428 391 117 .