26 Aug 2013 | Television News Transcript
Youth unemployment reached an all-time high in June this year, with over 25 per cent of 15 to 19-year-olds not being able to find full-time work.
Some of the hardest hit areas are the swing-seats of Western Sydney, where over 24.9 per cent of 15 to 19-year-olds, and 12.1 per cent of 15 to 24-year-olds are looking for work.
“It’s very hard… pretty much it’s all experience-required; you need a degree or something. It’s very hard to find something where they’ll take you and train you,” one young woman said.
But the problem is much bigger than training courses, says WPC Group‘s Nicholas Wyman.
WPC Group, a not-for-profit group-training organisation, connects employers who need an apprentice with job seekers. But according to the CEO, many young people who come through his door are either “not employable” or refuse the position because there is a stigma attached to entry-level skilled work.
“It’s a neglect of the education system particularly in NSW. There’s a notion that’s being driven though our schools that everyone must get a university degree,” he told SBS.
“These kids finish school … and they have some ideals from their parents, from their peers [that they must go to university], and they’re not considering these other jobs.”
On the other hand, Mr Wyman says schools are not doing enough to prepare young people to make the transition from school to work, and basic, factory, floor jobs that may have existed 10 years ago are no longer available.
“The left hand and the right hand just aren’t matching up. Employers are saying ‘it’s not our job to fix the education system’ and it’s leaving Australia’s young people sitting in the scrapheap.”
Youth Program Co-ordinator for Holroyd Council Youth Services, Meri Carovska, says a lack of support from schools to help students develop the subtle social skills to enter the workforce is one of the biggest problems in her area.
“It’s a black hole in the education system as a whole, but more in Western Sydney because there are more diverse cultures here; there are kids that have disabilities – learning difficulties – that fall through that gap.”
Ms Carovska says generational unemployment and financial strains on families mean that young people may not have any support from home, either.
But perhaps the greatest hurdle for many Western Sydney job seekers is a simple lack of funds.
One Parramatta resident told SBS News that while he has been looking for employment, he can’t afford any training or qualifications.
“I’ve been trying to get into TAFE for almost a year now, and they just don’t accept me,” the 22 year-old said.
“For a person on Centrelink it’s too expensive to do anything.”
Ms Carovska says the number of young people falling into this cycle of having no money for training – to find a job, is growing.
“We have clients who go to TAFE and are on Centrelink and the transport fees for them are astronomical per week, and the Centrelink payments aren’t enough. That makes it very difficult for them to pay [for] bills and [for] transport and just to budget,” she said.
Ms Carviska told SBS that the options for people trying to develop their skills while living off Centrelink are “very limited.”
“They can apply for one [brokerage] scheme and if that doesn’t work they’re left to their own devices,” she said.
“They can borrow from families if they can, if they can’t, then they don’t make the transition [to work] and they get back in Centrelink.”