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The 20 worst places to be a young person looking for a job

It’s difficult to find work as a young person in Mt Isa. Images: Getty
It’s difficult to find work as a young person in Mt Isa. Images: Getty

Young Australians in regional and rural areas “bear the heaviest burden” when it comes to unemployment, with some regions facing youth unemployment rates of more than 25 per cent.

More than one in 10 (11.2 per cent) of Australians in the workforce aged between 15 and 24 are unemployed, more than twice the country’s overall unemployment rate (5 per cent) and nearly triple the rate for those 25 and over.

This means more than 250,000 young people looking for work are unemployed, the Brotherhood of St Lawrence revealed in its latest report.

And it’s worst for Australians in regional areas.

“Young people come out of education and training with high hopes and aspirations for independence. It’s devastating that despite 28 years of continuous economic growth, too many young Australians are locked out of the prosperity dividend,” the Brotherhood’s executive director, Conny Lenneberg said.


Regional young job-seeker, 16-year-old Jayda, explained that accessing work in regional towns can be even more difficult.

“I’ve tried for dozens and dozens of jobs but I only heard back from one,” she said. “I was very naive about the world of work.”

Jayda, who lives in regional Queensland said she ended up scoring an interview only to find it was a group interview.

“After figuring out that so many people with so much more experience than me were going for the same work, it’s quite shocking. There’s so many people out there that are looking for jobs and in my town there’s not a lot of jobs for that amount of people,” she said.

She’s currently undergoing a medical receptionist course, which she hopes will translate into full time employment – something she desperately needs.

“My part-time job’s at a bakery and last week I only got three hours,” she explained.

Jayda’s story isn’t unusual, the Brotherhood’s figures report.

In fact, the Outback Queensland region, including Cape York, Weipa, Mount Isa and Longreach is the worst place to be a young jobseeker in the country, with a youth unemployment rate of 25.7 per cent.

These are the 20 youth unemployment hotspots

· 25.7 per cent in the Queensland – Outback region, (QLD) including Cape York, Weipa, Mount Isa, Longreach
· 23.3 per cent in the Coffs Harbour – Grafton region (NSW), including Nambucca Heads, Bellingen, Yamba, Dorrigo
· 19.8 per cent in the Wide Bay region (Qld), including Bundaberg, Maryborough, Kingaroy, Gympie
· 18.8 per cent in the Moreton Bay — North (Qld) region, including Caboolture, Woodford, Kilcoy
· 18.3 per cent in the Bendigo region (Vic), including Eaglehawk, White Hills, Heathcote, Boort, Wedderburn
· 17.8 per cent in the South East — Tasmania region, (TAS) including Oatlands, Huonville, Swansea, Nubeena
· 17.5 in the Shepparton region (Vic), including Cobram, Yarrawonga, Echuca, Rushworth
· 17.3 per cent in the Townsville region (Qld), including Ayr, Charters Towers, Ingham
· 16.9 per cent in the Hobart region, (TAS) including Margate, New Norfolk, Dunalley, Richmond
· 16.7 per cent in the Perth — North West region, (WA) including Joondalup, Yanchep, Wanneroo, Scarborough
· 16.1 per cent in the Moreton Bay — South region (Qld), including Samford, Dayboro, Strathpine
· 16.0 per cent in the Logan — Beaudesert region (Qld), including Beenleigh, Springwood
· 15.9 per cent in the Western Australia — Wheat Belt region, (WA) including Albany, Denmark, Northam, Mount Barker
· 15.5 per cent in the Melbourne — West region, (VIC) including Sunshine, St Albans, Footscray, Melton
· 15.3 per cent in the Barossa — Yorke — Mid North region (SA), including Port Pirie, Nuriootpa, Peterborough
· 15.0 per cent in the West and North West — Tasmania region, (TAS) including Devonport, Burnie, Queenstown
· 14.9 per cent in the Perth — South East region, (WA) including Victoria Park, Kalamunda, Armadale, Serpentine
· 14.7 per cent in the Sunshine Coast region (Qld), including Maroochydore, Maleny, Caloundra, Tewantin
· 14.6 per cent in the Perth — North East region, (WA) including Bayswater, Midland, Mundaring, Ellenbrook
· 14.3 per cent in the New England and North West region (NSW), including Armidale, Moree, Tamworth, Tenterfield

It’s a hard world out there

Lenneberg said the hotspots highlight the inaccuracy of suggestions young Australians are too busy drinking lattes and taking selfies to find work.

“Many young people are doing it tough,” she said, calling for a “more sophisticated” debate on youth unemployment and awareness of the challenges young Australians face.

The danger of Australia’s unpaid internship culture was held up to a microscope in recent days after the CEO of Muffin Break Australia, Natalie Brennan blasted young people for their unwillingness to work for free at a fast-food chain.

“I’m generalising, but it definitely feels like this generation of 20-somethings has to be rewarded even if it’s the most mundane, boring thing, they want to be rewarded for doing their job constantly,” said Brennan in a piece for

“There’s just nobody walking in my door asking for an internship, work experience or unpaid work, nobody.”

Australian Unions, politicians and twitter-users criticised Brennan for expecting young Australians to want to work for free at a fast food chain.

“Millennials have had enough of being robbed. Robbed of wages, robbed of ever having a job with paid leave, robbed of ever owning a house. Good on them. Those doing the robbing had better watch out,” Australian Unions’ chief, Sally McManus said.

Fashion startup Her Fashion Box was also penalised last week for passing off employees as interns to avoid paying them, while a Subway manager received a $65,000 fine for underpaying staff today.

And a new report from McKinsey Australia has found that up to six million jobs could be lost from automation, with the majority lost in administrative and manual roles.

“We remain especially concerned at how young people without qualifications and skills or family networks are tracking in this rapidly changing economic and social environment,” Lenneberg said.

“To secure the future labour force and create opportunities for decent work, we need structural solutions that drill down to local job markets and infrastructure challenges.

“We also know from our practical experience that all young jobseekers in Australia need to have access to a specialist youth employment service, a one-stop-shop dedicated to their needs, whereas currently we still have a fragmented response to employment services for young people.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed to create 1.25 million jobs in the next five years if he is elected, but shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen has argued these figures are merely in-line with job-growth trends and warned that Treasury hasn’t performed any modelling for Morrison’s promise.

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