Outer suburbs youth suffer in unemployment ‘hotspots’

Young people, especially in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, are struggling to find work.

By NICKOLAS ZAKHARIA

In parts of Victoria the youth unemployment rate is more than 15 per cent, a report from the Brotherhood of St Laurence has found.

The report also revealed 15-24 year olds make up more than one third of Australia’s total unemployed population.

NGO Job Prospects employment consultant Olga Zeidan said young Australians struggled to find jobs because many kids in the outer suburbs were leaving school early.

“There’s a lot of [Victorian] youths that leave school a lot earlier … [it’s] very hard to find employment because they’re not skilled and they’re not ready,” Ms Zeidan said.

Employment consultant Olga Zeidan. Picture: Nickolas Zakharia

“So you get a lot of 15-18-year-olds that are earlier school leavers, that aren’t put in proper programs to get that year 11 or 12 equivalent, to get them into employment,” she said.

The report found the top five regions in Victoria with the highest youth unemployment rates were:

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT HOTSPOTS 
Melbourne-West Region - 18.7 per cent
Melbourne-North West Region - 17.5 per cent
Bendigo Region – 16.2 per cent
Shepparton Region – 16.1 per cent
Melbourne-South East Region – 15.1 per cent

These are close to three times the Victorian unemployment rate, which is currently at 5.7 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The report warned that the story of youth unemployment had become “a tale of two Australias”, with outer suburbs and regional areas having higher rates of youth unemployment.

Brotherhood of St Laurence executive director Conny Lenneberg called on the government to address the issue before the gap widened.

“It’s very worrying when we have more than a quarter of a million young people in the labour force who are unemployed,” Ms Lenneberg said. 

“Disadvantaged young people in particular are facing barriers in their effort to secure work … we need action from governments as well tapping into the effort of employers in local communities,” she said.

Data from The Department of Education on high school retention showed a steady increase from 84.2 per cent in 2008 to 92.4 per cent of Victorian students year 12 in 2017, across all schools in the state.

Andrea Franco

Monash University law student Andrea Franco has been looking for a job since she graduated from high school in 2016, and has had difficulty finding work because of her lack of experience.

Ms Franco said her friends focused on gaining job experience throughout high school while she focused on her studies.

“I think large companies are not willing to give opportunities to younger people, simply because they believe they don’t have as much experience as someone who is much older,” Ms Franco said.

“Back in the day they’d literally pay peanuts to people our age simply because they were younger … it’s just almost impossible at this point to secure a position.”