There is an air of crisis in Australia and the international community about youth unemployment (for 15-24year olds) that has remained persistently high in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. But it is often overlooked that youth unemployment has been very high since the late 1970s, when the levels were not that different from what they are now – around 12-13%. Youth unemployment rates were at the lowest in Australia prior to the GFC but have now reverted to what they were through the 1980s and 1990s – between 10 and 20%.
There are a few facts to be considered in relation to the policy responses to this ‘crisis’. The high youth unemployment rate is essentially a post-industrial phenomenon. The old gateways into employment through apprenticeships are scarce, but also the type of workplaces in both the public and private sectors which enabled entry level employment with an element of on-the-job training have also largely disappeared. Practices including contracting out, casualisation, offshoring, and work intensification have taken their toll.
My presentation to the Future of Welfare conference 30 October, attempts to get a better perspective on what is happening in the youth labour market and use this as a context for considering how social policy needs to be better constructed.
The presentation as a PDF can be downloaded here: Youth employment: the long view for good policy
All slides from the Future of Welfare conference are available for viewing here: