Youth unemployment is a big issue. No one can deny that. The last few years have seen dramatic shifts in Government policy and strategies tackling youth unemployment. So where do we stand on this issue?
The 2014 budget
The 2014 budget was a disaster politically, socially and economically. Young people were hit hard, in particular those who become unemployed or were looking for work. The proposed six month waiting period for benefits was unacceptable, as was the reduction of payments: welfare recipients were already living below the poverty line. We declared that the government was seeking to create an underclass and that the changes were a recipe for homelessness.
The 2015 budget
The changes to youth unemployment that we took issue with in the 2014 budget, never made it past the senate. A very modified version of the newstart and youth allowance amendments were allowed through. Young people still have to wait at least two months before receiving assistance once they become unemployed. It’s an improvement on the six month wait originally proposed. That issue aside, the Federal Government has announced a Youth Unemployment program to the tune of $331 million.
- Youth Transition to work ($212 million)
- Early School leavers ($14 million)
- Intensive support trials for vulnerable job seekers ($106 million)
Our Annual young person survey revealed that the most important issue for our young people was employment. Roughly 31% of young people listed it as their top priority and reason for attending Youth Off The Streets’ services (education came a close second at 24%).
The largest aspect of the new youth unemployment program is the ‘youth transition to work’ initiative. As an organisation that works with young people that view employment as their top priority, we would like to be included in this program.
Providers must offer intensive case work over a 12 week period and the government wants positive outcomes 25% greater than the average job seeker. The expectations of this funding are a little high considering the client group we work with. A lot of young people have unstable environments at home and won’t be able to succeed within a 12 week window. A longer term approach to the young people we work with is needed in this case.
Final thoughts on Youth Unemployment
It’s a huge issue for young people in Australia and around the world at the moment. The young people we work with have listed it as their top concern. The Government has come a long way since the 2014 budget proposals and with a few adjustments to the ‘youth transition to work’ program we could start to make some headway in reducing the severity of the problem.