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Youth unemployment hits GFC levels: How can baby boomers help?

Youth unemployment rates hit boiling point. Source: Getty

Young Australians might be taking their frustrations out on baby boomers who won’t retire from top positions via the new phrase ‘ok boomer’, but the older generation may be able to help young career hopefuls.

Australia’s national youth unemployment rate toppled 12 per cent - three times the 3.9 per cent unemployment rate for people over 25. 

But while that’s the official number, a report from the Brotherhood of St Laurence which analysed Australian Bureau of Statistics data, estimates 265,000 young Aussies are unemployed and more than 46,000 Aussie jobseekers aged 15 to 24 meet the definition ‘long-term unemployed’ - meaning not being employed for longer than 12 months. 

“There is no doubt youth unemployment overall remains an ongoing and urgent challenge – the national rate has again broken through to 12 per cent after an 18-month hiatus,” the Brotherhood’s Executive Director Conny Lenneberg said.

According to the report, the last time the figure hit 12 per cent was in 2009 - around the time of the Global Financial Crisis. 

Unemployment rates by age group, October 2009 to 2019. Source: ABS

Underemployment also an issue

The total number of people in the labour market that a working but would like more hours of work is defined as underemployment, and it’s a huge issue for young Australians too.

ABS data shows that, since 2002, there have been more people underemployed than unemployed, and it’s women and young workers who do it toughest.

For women, the rate of underemployment is 10 per cent, and for young workers that rate is nearly 20 per cent, data from earlier this year shows.

How can baby boomers help the younger generation?

While the unemployment rate is high, job opportunities for young Aussies exist in skilled roles to support baby boomers as they enter old age.

As Australia’s population ages, personal carer and assistant roles are expected to increase by 82,500 by 2023. 

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

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

“Of course, enrolling in a VET program does not guarantee completion; indeed it is estimated that only around half of those who enrol go on to attain their qualification,” the report stated.

“A strong VET system, particularly for occupations predicted to increase in the future, is a necessity. 

“This is especially true because VET has been a major destination for students who have experienced disadvantage – those from low-income families, in regional areas, from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds with disability and with health barriers.”

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