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How to politicise Aussie youth? A job would be nice

By Kellie Tranter - posted Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Kevin Rudd's victory speech highlighted the importance of re-engaging young people in the political process. He referred to the energy and ideas they can contribute.

But with official unemployment figures for young Australians exceeding 15 per cent - not including the under-employed and those who have stopped looking for work - our nation's youth could be forgiven for feeling sceptical of the invitation.

The recent International Labour Organisation report - 'Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013: A generation at risk' - identifies youth unemployment as a global phenomenon. More than 73 million young people are expected to be out of work in 2013. The report warns that the long-term impact of a youth employment crisis could be felt for decades.


Common concerns being expressed by the world's youth include a belief that education is not preparing them for employment. There is a feeling among young people that governments are not prioritising job creation and that bureaucratic obstacles need to be removed and incentives created to reduce youth unemployment. There are concerns that young people have great ideas but no access to capital.

These concerns ring true for Australia.

Mission Australia's Youth Survey last year suggested that the economy and financial matters were of significant importance to young people.

Schools Business Community Partnership Broker Program understand that school must prepare young people for the transition to further education or work.  The program provides the link between schools and employers.

Some in the program believe that the government is getting it wrong because schools need regular interaction with industry so that young people are developing the right employability skills. On top of that there is nothing happening with young people between the school exit point and the point at which they're entitled to unemployment benefits in their own right at 22 years of age.

A large number of young people are not entitled to Centrelink benefits and they're not entitled to job service provider assistance (they're entitled to actually go there and access the resources, but they're not entitled to the assistance) when their parents earn over a prescribed amount.


When high school students graduate, those who don't go on to university or further study often end up working in low-paid, part-time jobs, often retail. By the age of 18 or 19 these jobs often peter out because the wages become too high and uncompetitive for employers. 

That's the nature of business: people in business who are struggling to stay afloat themselves can't keep them on paying that level of wage. 

So the development of a young person's skills base is also restricted.

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About the Author

Kellie Tranter is a lawyer and human rights activist. You can follow her on Twitter @KellieTranter

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