It’s the big issue on the mind of every young Australian: what does the future hold? For younger Aussies, the prospect of a prosperous future is still a long way off. With national unemployment at record levels, increasing costs of living and dramatic changes to the welfare and education systems, it appears that young Australians have already drawn the short straw. But a new report highlights a growing problem.

The AMP NATSEM (National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling) report is usually focused on labour and the vagaries of working life. The demographic study reveals trends in employment, social mobility and the labour market in general. Though Australia has performed well in some categories (our ‘labour market health’ is high), the report has revealed a series of potentially damaging trends in youth unemployment.

In short, the report’s findings are stunning. Australia’s youth unemployment rate is now hovering at 27.2 per cent, compared with the 16.6 per cent rate during the GFC in 2008. And it seems young people are now three times more likely to work part time jobs in place of full time jobs.

These alarming trends reveal several critical problems with the way younger Australians are treated in the workplace. Essentially, the baby-boomer generation has begun to leave the workplace, resulting in carry-over effects on a wave of young workers.

Speaking with the ABC Online, NATSEM’s Professor Robert Tanton identified this single factor as a key impediment to inter-generational workplace fairness: “Young people are facing difficulties gaining employment due to changes in technology, tougher economic conditions and increasing requirements for qualifications, while older people are retiring and taking skills, experience and knowledge with them.”

To address this problem, NATSEM recommends that the job market begin compensating for the inequality. They insist that employers should begin taking on record numbers of younger staff members in order to replenish a dwindling supply of man (or woman) power. If companies insist on ‘PQE’ hiring practices, Australia could be left with a perennial and irreversible ‘brain-drain’, a shortage of the kind of knowledgeable and experienced labour that is required to keep all industry alive.


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