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Youth unemployment soars: What can Gen Z do about it?

Youth unemployment soars. Source: Getty

Youth unemployment rose to 13.8 per cent in April, up from 11.5 per cent the previous month, with the number of young underemployed Australians also rising. 

That means more Australians aged between 15 and 24 than ever before are stuck working reduced hours, or unemployed. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday opening up the economy should get young Australians back into work.

“The task and the message I have for those young people is… I know how important it is to open up those jobs again and get those young people back into work.

“Once we go through that process of reopening the economy, it is also then to ensure that the skills and the training and the businesses that they work for, and that we’ll be looking to employ them and rehire them or increase their hours or restore their positions, can do so in a competitive way.”

But not all businesses will be looking to hire after coronavirus, according to finance minister Mathias Cormann. 

Cormann told the ABC in April that “some jobs will not return” after the pandemic subsides, but that new jobs “will emerge”.

Business professor Tim Harcourt from the University of New South Wales told Yahoo Finance the younger generation doesn’t need to sit idly. In fact, there are ways Gen Z can prepare for what’s on the other side of the coronavirus crisis. 

“The best thing is the learning economy, and the advantage of online learning now,” he said.

“So, young people have got a great chance to skill up and take advantage of all the new opportunities form digital media and universities and TAFEs that are now available.

“I think it’s up to institutions to let young people know what’s available, so they can pick up a bit of learning while they’re waiting for things to reopen.”

Are Gen Z’s career aspirations too high?

Young people are hell-bent on being doctors, lawyers, engineers or teachers – and have considered little else when it comes to their careers, according to OECD research. 

In fact, 52 per cent of girls and 49 per cent of boys aged 15 years old have only considered 10 career opportunities – and all are highly professional. 

Gen Z’s career aspirations mean they aren’t looking at jobs that require vocational education and training (VET), which will be in high demand in the future.

As Australia’s population ages, personal carer and assistant roles are expected to increase by 82,500 by 2023, according to a report from the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

“Demand for qualified personal carers is growing at a quicker pace than youth enrolments in those qualifications,” the report stated.

Other VET roles expected to require more workers are: child carers, education aides, ICT support technicians, plumbers and electricians.

What are the jobs of the future for Gen Z?

While it’s good to have high career aspirations, a large chunk of the jobs these kids are interested in could be gone in the future, according to OECD data.

In Australia, 37 per cent of jobs that the most advantaged students are interested in and 41 per cent of jobs the most disadvantaged students are interested in will be automated in the future. 

But some jobs are completely future-proof, Callam Pickering, Asia-Pacific economist at Indeed, told Yahoo Finance.

“Creative pursuits are considered less likely to be impacted by automation and artificial intelligence,” Pickering said.

“Marketing and advertising are two areas that should continue to flourish.”

And robots don’t have good taste in food, it seems, with the economist revealing chefs and cooks are also considered future-proof career paths.

“There's also value to embracing emerging tech - employment in the tech sector has been growing far more rapidly than employment nationally,” he said.

“Skill shortages are apparent across the tech sector and younger workers who specialise in technology are well placed to earn big bucks.”

Tradies are also less likely to be less impacted by automation: “They are always needed and offer greater opportunity for those prepared to work hard,” Pickering said.

Yahoo Finance Breakfast Club.

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