Council takes a stance to reduce youth unemployment

By JOSEPH LEW

A new strategy has been developed by Brimbank Council in an attempt to reduce the youth unemployment in the region.

The Brimbank Council region incorporates some of the most socio-economically disadvantaged areas in Victoria, with an unemployment rate of 10.91 per cent, according to a 2018 report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Designed in collaboration with YLAB – a social enterprise originating from the Foundation of Young Australians – this framework intends to reshape how people view youth unemployment.

“We wanted to change the way this issue was framed,” Youth Learning and Pathways senior officer Morayo Adeyemi said.

She said it was usually framed as an individual problem, with a lot of victim blaming, when in reality, it was far more than that.

“Young people face inadequate education and training systems, increased automation, decreased access to entry-level jobs and a crash in the economy,” she said.

Ms Adeyemi joined the strategy as a local consultant to boost the support offered by current programs.

“A lot of the programs … are quite primitive,” she said. Job agencies also aren’t really doing their job at helping young people find work and pathways that they’re interested in.” Finding long-term work was an issue. 

The strategy, which is planned to run from 2018 to 2023, aims to involve young people in decision-making by allowing them to connect with major decision-makers.

“Often you find that in the employment sector, you don’t really see young people actually advocating for themselves to being part of the decision-making process,” Ms Adeyemi said.

“We’re hoping to advocate for young people’s voices through local, state and federal initiatives.”

Amaya Ukwatte. Picture: Joseph Lew

As a full-time student who juggles three jobs, Amaya Ukwatte said navigating the job market was difficult because of the lack of connections in the industries she was interested in.

“I feel like a lot of people find good jobs because of their family and their family’s connections, which puts those of us without those connections at a disadvantage,” she said.

Ms Adeyemi identified lack of social connection as one of the factors that made people especially vulnerable to unemployment.

“Social connection helps young people navigate the employment and skills sector so without that, young people really find it hard to understand which pathways they can take… and even explore what they want to be in the first place,” she said.

However, she said she believed some employers had lower expectations of young people and that could make it easier for them to get some jobs.

“There are less requirements for experience … whereas if you were older, they’ll expect much more because of your age,” she said.