Unemployment figures hide big issue for youth

Gippsland’s youth unemployment rate is not representative of the real state of the employment market for young people, according to a local education and employment expert.

While Gippsland’s youth unemployment rate is the lowest in the state at 12.8%, with Baw Baw at 3.9%, the statistics hide the youth underemployment rate.

Youth underemployment is defined as young people – those aged between 14 and 29 – who are unable to find enough hours of work at a suitable time.

“What is not measured is the real level of underemployment, especially a level that you can’t live on”, Baw Baw Latrobe Local Learning and Education Network chief executive officer Mick Murphy said.

“Unemployment figures do not always reflect the reality that is on the ground.”

“If a young person is ‘working,’ regardless of how short term, how casualised their job is, they are not [counted as] unemployed, even if they are only working a few hours a week.”

LLENs have the goal of improving employment outcomes for young people and addressing the skills needs of business and employers.

According to analysis from the Baw Baw Latrobe LLEN, young people in Baw Baw are likely to face additional hardship, particularly early school leavers and job seekers.

There are currently 7,655 people aged between 14 and 29 living in Baw Baw.

In an attempt to combat the employment issues faced by those youth, the LLENs have created a free employment and training services directory for youth visiting anywhere in Gippsland.

Over 100 individual services are listed in the directory, including jobs and courses.

Mr Murphy said the directory would help young people make a call to employment services, regardless of the time of day.

“Users are asked to answer two questions from short dropdown lists-what help do you need and where do you need it?” he said.

“Within three swipes of the screen you are making a call to a related service.”

The mobile-friendly website can be accessed via bawbawlatrobellen.com.au

Data collected by the federal government’s employment department, in April, revealed youth unemployment was at its highest in Victoria’s regional and outer Metropolitan areas.

The department suggested that as the rate of youth unemployment rises, people living in rural and outer Metropolitian areas were most likely to lose their jobs and least likely to find alternative employment.

According to Roy Morgan Research, total employment for 15-24 year olds has fallen by 5.2 per cent since the Global Financial Crisis in 2007, which means full-time employment has dropped by a staggering 17.9 per cent.

Youth employment has also skyrocketed from 8.8 per cent in September 2008 to 13.6 per cent in April this year.

In Gippsland, the LLENs come under the banners of Baw Baw, Latrobe, Gippsland East and South Gippsland Bass Coast.

Representatives from each of the Gippsland LLENs recently met with Victorian training and skills minister Steve Herbert.

During the meeting, they discussed how funding from the state government could best suit the needs of disengaged youth.

“Every young person deserves the chance to reach their potential”, Mr Herbert said.

“That is why we are supporting LLENs, to focus on programs that help at-risk youth to engage with education and employment.”

$32 million from the 2015/16 Victorian budget will be allocated to support the networks.

“The funding provided will enable LLENs to help our most vulnerable youth to stay at school, participate in training or find work and is essential to help restore opportunities to young people across our state”, Mr Herbert said.

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