By Justin Currie-Smith
With soaring levels of youth unemployment in Forde, a young job-seeker is excited about the Coalition’s new jobs program, but a youth worker says it’s just a quick fix.
Beenleigh resident Luke Logan-Elliott, 23, has struggled to find permanent work since leaving school at 17. He welcomes the new Young Jobs PaTH program, which would see him undertake an internship, paid for by the Federal Government, for up to 12 weeks.
“Everywhere I apply to wants experience. It doesn’t matter what kind of job it is, I don’t think they want to have to train me,” he says. “It’s really hard to find a job when you have no experience.”
The unemployment rate in Forde is one of the highest of any Queensland federal electorates. While unemployment in Queensland hit a two-year low of 5.9-percent in January this year, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics puts the state’s youth unemployment level at roughly 13 per cent.
While youth unemployment rate in Forde has dropped in the past year, Queensland Government statistics still put it at almost 15 per cent.
The Young Jobs PaTH program, announced in the federal budget, would give unemployed young people, like Logan-Elliott, employability skills training to help them prepare for work. They would also receive a paid internship, and a wage subsidy to employers willing to take them on.
Youth Worker Kara Evans believes the program may help get young people into jobs quickly, but she says further investment education is a better solution to lower the youth unemployment rate in the long-term.
“This is a quick-fix solution to a much larger problem and doesn’t address the real issue of what is preventing young people from finding work.”
Elliott says that the internship would open up new opportunities of employment for him and believes the overall benefits far outweigh the small amount of money.
Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh has told Lateline he was pleased the program appeared to be shifting away from the traditional “work-for-the-dole” system.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten did not mention the program in his budget reply speech. He focused on job creation through education, saying that “[education] is an investment in our economy, in productivity, in growth, in a workforce ready to win the jobs of the future”.
Evans believes that encouraging people to pursue further study, whether it be tertiary or vocational, would be a more effective to lower youth unemployment.
“The [employability skills training] the program provides are essential to getting young people into work, but we should be focusing on getting them into TAFE or some other skills training they can make a career out of, rather than just a job.”
Elliott would prefer to return to study in the future, but he believes that the prospect of finding employment through the program is still beneficial in the long-run.
“I would love to go and do an apprenticeship or something like that through TAFE, but I still need to get more work experience before anyone is going to take me on as an apprentice,” he says. “I shouldn’t pass up a chance at a job just because I’m holding out for something else in the future.”
The Brotherhood of St Laurence has praised the Young Jobs PaTH program as a step in the right direction, but in a post-Bu
dget statement the organisation said solving the youth unemployment problem requires greater focus.
“While the details are yet to come, the commitment to help 120,000 young people over four years by building employability skills, offering internships and making available wage subsidies to employers is a positive step.
“We can’t lose sight of the big picture, however.”