Youth unemployment remains a concern for the state

UTAS student Dakoda Leary, 19.
UTAS student Dakoda Leary, 19.

A new national study showing nearly one in five people aged 15-24 fall into the long-term unemployment category is more than consistent with the experience of youth in the state, according to the Tasmanian Council of Social Services.

Conducted through the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the report indicated about 50,500 young people have been out of work for a year or more.

TasCOSS acting chief executive Jo Flanagan said the odds are stacked against young people in the state before they even start looking.

“Our young people are being asked to ‘earn or learn’, but those wanting to earn are beset by barriers not of their own making,” she said.

“Neither access to public transport nor affordable housing are within easy reach of many young Tasmanians, which makes being in a positon to get a decent job a tough ask.”

The study also found the unemployment rate for 15-24 year-olds in the labour market sits at 12.4 per cent (trend rate in October 2017) — more than double the overall unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent.

With Launceston and the North East’s youth unemployment rate higher again at 16.4 per cent for the same time period, TasCOSS acting chief executive Jo Flanagan said the struggle to find a job was one Tasmania’s next generation knew all too well.

“When it comes to youth unemployment, Tasmania remains an island of job seekers,” she said.

Speaking in response to the findings, Treasurer Peter Gutwein acknowledged the issues of youth unemployment within Tasmania, but said the government was working towards providing more chances for young people.

“We recognise youth unemployment issues, and that is why we have set a target to reduce Tasmania’s youth unemployment rate to at or below the national average by 2022,” he said.

“Youth unemployment is something we are already working to address, and the 2017-18 Budget includes a $25 million youth employment strategy with targeted initiatives to help disadvantaged and disengaged young Tasmanians into work.”

UTAS student Dakoda Leary spent two years looking for a job to supplement his studies before eventually finding a cafe that “was specifically looking for someone they could train up.”

The 19-year-old said is experience was far from unique.

“I know a lot of people who have been without a job for more than a year,” he said.

“So many of us are stuck relying on Centerlink to get by fortnightly, which everyone knows is definitely not enough to get by on for even a week.

“I think there needs to be programs in schools to help with resumes and experience for jobs such as cafe and retail skills.”

Ms Flanagan agreed that a community approach was needed to address the issue.

“Our State and our communities are rich with the energy and ideas of business people,  local government, community leaders, education and employment experts and youth themselves,” she said.

“It is time to recognise those riches and work towards solutions that change the lives of Tasmanian youth.”