(Source: Brotherhood of St Lawrence, ABS)
If you’re unemployed and under 25, be afraid. Be very afraid.
Policy makers have their sights set on correcting the post-GFC rise in youth unemployment, and some rather radical solutions -- like enlisting young Australians into a tree-planting green army for half the minimum wage -- are all in the mix.
But is the answer to this challenge starting us in the face? And could the government proverbially kill two birds with one policy agenda change?
For years now Australia’s blossoming tech start-up sector has been crying out for more government support, and for law changes -- largely to do with capital raising and employee share schemes -- to help buoy the industry's growth.
How does this tie into youth unemployment? They sector is also advocating for lessons in entrepreneurship to be further integrated into the Australian primary, secondary and tertiary education plans.
"We need many more people who can make a job rather than just take a job," says Jana Matthews, board member of peak start-up sector group, StartUpAus.
The group argues that with the right policy framework , the sector could produce just over half a million jobs and contribute $109 billion to our overall GDP by 2033.
According to Matthews, that framework shift also involves changing the mindset of Australia’s young jobseekers. She points to programs like Club Kidprenur which encourage “primary-aged kids” to start their own microbusiness by creating a product or through selling a service. Matthews holds a seat on Club Kidprenur’s board.
She says that most of Australia’s successful entrepreneurs are “more like kids”. Not in all of their behaviour, of course, but in their natural ability to fail fast, learn from failure and try new things until they succeed.
However, there are beliefs that a government focus on start-ups may not budge the Australia’s youth unemployment rate.
Youth employment commentator and Associate Dean of Monash University’s Faculty of Education, Lucas Walsh argues that a government focus on entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment won’t help those who come from a disadvantaged background.
According to Walsh these types of worker typically fall into four particular groups: regional and remote job seekers, those with an indigenous background, those with a disability and early school leavers.
“We need entrepreneurs,” Walsh says.
“But we also to put the issue in a political context in which greater responsibility [is] being put on individuals who may not have the means to get a step up on this world.”
Australia's youth unemployment rate will likely be used as ammunition to abolish weekend penalty rates, but should we take a longer view of the issue? What do you think?
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