Make the most of education

ANOTHER week, another gloomy report on the state's fortunes. It's getting a bit draining.

This week, it's youth unemployment in the spotlight, with Tasmania topping a national report by welfare group the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

Their report, based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data, shows 21per cent of young people aged 15 to 24 in the state's West and North-West are unemployed, compared with the national average of 12.2per cent.

The first thing that struck me about this report was the age range they were looking at, starting at 15.

Aren't our young people at school until they're 17 or 18 in year 12?

And in which case, aren't they leaving school well equipped for the workforce, or for further education?

Call me old-fashioned, but that's how I thought it worked.

Am I just being naive, or am I so long out of school that things are different now?

There's been a lot of talk this election campaign about creating jobs to replace those lost by fading industries like forestry and manufacturing. Jobs, jobs, jobs.

But surely that's putting the cart before the horse for our young people.

If they aren't staying in school long enough to learn valuable skills - and giving them time to grow up, foster a sense of identity and forge a career path, or at least a realistic idea of what they might like to do to earn a crust - how are they going to be prepared to take on a meaningful job?

Unfortunately, it's also true that those most likely to leave school early are less likely to have a supportive home environment for further learning; often because their influencers don't believe in education ("I turned out all right, didn't I?"), or maybe because they're following them into a family business and there's pressure to help out physically and financially.

I accept that some families are pushed financially and logistically by their child's continuing education - through transport and books, excursions, equipment etc.

But isn't that why we have financial assistance for families through government benefits?

A great education isn't handed to you on a plate. You have to work for it.

Same goes for a great job.

You don't just leave school when you choose and walk into one.

There are always false starts and setbacks and needing to move away to chase your dreams.

Young people don't have to want to be doctors to go on to year 11 and 12 and then uni.

Our colleges provide a vast array of arts and vocational programs to complement more traditional pre-tertiary subjects.

There's no single way to guarantee a successful career - or even to guarantee a job.

I appreciate that it is easier when your family can afford to support you to do this.

But surely learning as much as you can while you have the chance - and few responsibilities - just makes good sense.

You're a long time in the workforce. Or the dole queue.

lposkitt@examiner.com.au

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