ABC News Radio – youth unemployment

Thursday, 18 July 2019


SUBJECTS: Youth unemployment

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: Joining us now is Labor’s Amanda Rishworth the Federal Shadow Minister for Youth, who has expressed concern about that figure. Good evening to you.

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR YOUTH: Good evening, great to be with you.

BARTHOLOMEW: What do you make of these figures?

RISHWORTH: I think it is really concerning that we’re just seeing this stubbornly high level of youth unemployment. When I speak to young people they are really desperate to get a foot in the labour market, but it just seems to be alluding so many. I really think the Government has to take this issue very seriously, we do need a multi-faceted approach, not just a one-size fits all, to actually address this. Look at skills, look at entry into the workplace, and how we can actually support young people to match up with the jobs that are out there.

BARTHOLOMEW: This has been a problem for some time, we’ve covered it at length on this network. Is this an issue that’s been ignored?

RISHWORTH: I do think it’s an issue that’s been ignored. The Government has put all its eggs in one basket – the PaTH program that is effectively giving unpaid internships to young people with the hope that they’ll get a job. That program has showed there has been a very, very low uptake and indeed hasn’t been leading to jobs. So I think we need to get back to basics. We need to have a serious look at our apprenticeship scheme, there’s been 150,000 less apprenticeships over the last six years. We need to make sure we’re looking at every pathway so we can help young people into jobs.

BARTHOLOMEW: It’s been pretty stubborn though, it probably goes back to when you were in power. Are any of these solutions going to work?

RISHWORTH: I hear from young people they do want support when it comes to apprenticeships. We’ve seen a significant reduction in things like apprenticeships, on-the-job training, which I think is really important. And we’ve really seen a lack of attention on vocational education, I think we need to get back to working with industry to actually look at how young people can get a foot into the labour market. I think we need to look at underemployment as well, a lot of young people speak to me about the casualisation of the workforce and how that is not providing them with a decent standard of living. So these are issues I think we need to take very seriously and really look at the evidence, not just focus on one particular program, but actually look at the evidence of what works.

BARTHOLOMEW: Because that’s the nature of those definitions isn’t it. For those who don’t know you can work an hour a week and be classified as being in work and not being counted in these figures. The 12 per cent national figure suggests there are patches that are much, much worse in sections of this country, I think parts of Queensland have figures like 25 per cent.

RISHWORTH: Absolutely, regional areas in particular take a significant brunt of this. But also if you look at the nationwide underemployment figure of young people it’s up around 17.3 per cent. So we’re seeing a really significant impact and of course it affects so many other aspects of a young person’s life, their mental health, their confidence but also things like homelessness and housing, the ability to live a healthy and happy life.



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