Youth unemployment rate demands greater attention

The national unemployment rate of 5.4% for June 2018, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), is the lowest it’s been for five years.

But, youth unemployment remains at least double that in more than 60% of Australian regions*. The national youth unemployment figure stands at 11% and is much higher in many areas.

Beacon Foundation Chief Executive, Scott Harris, was asked to talk on the subject on ABC Radio’s Tasmania’s Drive show on Friday 20th July.

Mr Harris told Drive Presenter, Gary Magnussen, while he welcomed improvements in employment rates, the issue remained one of the biggest facing the entire country, and that behind the statistics are thousands of young people missing out.

“You might be second, third, or fourth generation unemployed and may be desperate to break that cycle, but you need to understand the job opportunities around you and the changing nature of the world of work.”

Mr Harris said Beacon Foundation’s work is based around making a bridge between school and employers and getting more industry partners working closely with schools.

He said there is great willingness from the community to provide young people with work exposure and experience and to help show them the relevance of education to work.

“It’s really important that all sides, whether it’s politics or business or for purpose organisations, are able to come together around this issue in a really constructive meaningful way.”

Mr Harris gave the example of schools being linked to industry to organise School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships, which give secondary school students hands on experience in a workplace, but also see them continue their education to Year 12.

“It’s really important for us in the work that we do to focus on Year 12 attainment … because the jobs of the future will require at least a Year 12 attainment level”

Mr Harris applauded efforts of Governments to support young people into employment, and urged all sides of politics to make the issue a priority.


*Brotherhood of St Laurence (2018), “An unfair Australia? Mapping youth unemployment hotspots”, March