5. every young person needs
Pathways to a fulfilling career
"Give youth the tools and education to be work ready and have every opportunity to be employed."
"Grant youth services finances to initiate youth-led micro enterprises."
"Create youth employment networks and workshops that encourage local employers to connect and mentor young people in their communities."
– Young people from rural and regional Victoria.
We all want every young person to be on their way to a career that helps them to become independent and work in jobs they enjoy. Recently, we’ve seen some welcome moves in Victoria to improve careers advice to young people and offer free training in fields where job opportunities are growing.
But as the Life Patterns study of young Australians observed, “Difficult transitions to work have become an increasing reality for everyone, not just for those historically labelled as disadvantaged.”
Since 1980, the percentage of young Australians working in full-time jobs has halved. Entry-level jobs are vanishing. Early school leavers and young people with disability are at high risk of unemployment, but anyone can struggle. Nearly 60% of young Australians aged 25 hold a post-school qualification, but 50% of them still can’t find more than 35 hours of work per week. One in five young workers get paid less than minimum wage, and only half get paid proper penalty rates. Only 31% of young adults believe they will have a secure, well-paid job in five years.
Building a career is especially hard for young people who face discrimination, or who don’t have 'networks' of supportive adults to connect them with opportunities.
Victorian schools provide the best careers education to all students.
First steps by 2020
Fund full-time, dedicated careers educators for every secondary school, focusing especially on rural schools with limited staff numbers. These educators must have a strong knowledge of labour trends and build good relationships with students, employers, higher education and training providers, unions, community services and industry associations.
Support students with disability to prepare for meaningful careers. Ensure all careers activities include students with disability on an equal basis, and support schools to find accessible work experience placements for students with disability in fields which match the students’ interests. Provide careers educators with professional development about transition options for students with disability, and support schools to implement transition plans for students that include life skills and address obstacles like discrimination.
Connect students with employers, mentors, 'taster' opportunities and role models in diverse careers. In particular, connect female students with women working in trades, STEM and emerging industries, connect students with disability with inclusive workplaces, and connect students from refugee and migrant backgrounds with professionals and other role models within and outside their communities.
Engage families in careers education, building their knowledge of employment pathways and how best to support their children. Focus on building the strengths and connections of families who face the greatest barriers, such as disadvantage, racism, or isolation.
Support students to explore pathways into high quality vocational education and training, focusing on areas where the majority of jobs growth over the next five years will occur, including health care and community services.
Embed workplace rights in careers education, so that students understand things like minimum wage, pay rates, enterprise agreements and workplace safety, as recommended by the Young Workers Centre.
Ensure careers education is informed by up-to-date research. For example, Foundation for Young Australians found that young people move faster into full-time work if they are supported to learn "enterprise skills”, maintain good mental health, identify growth areas for employment, and find entry-level jobs in the same “cluster” as their desired career. Brotherhood of St Laurence found that young people do best when careers educators provide a clear “line of sight” to a job, support young people to develop generic job-ready skills, recognise young people as capable and resourceful, and support them to build their strengths, make decisions, and pursue their own goals.
Youth employment is a priority in state and regional planning.
First steps by 2020
Develop a state-wide youth employment plan, which engages young people and their communities in planning the future of employment, and employs youth workers to assist young people to find, maintain or create employment opportunities.
Make youth employment part of regional economic development plans. Support rural and regional communities to map local industries, job growth and shortages, assess how these issues link to school-to-work transitions, and resource solutions based on local expertise.
Wage theft is prevented.
First steps by 2020
Insert an offence of 'wage theft' into the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), and hold to account employers who deliberately and dishonestly withhold wages, superannuation or other entitlements.
All young people can connect to career opportunities in their community.
First steps by 2020
Invest in partnership brokerage and innovation to help young people transition into meaningful employment. The Local Learning and Employment Networks play a key role, bringing together employers, schools, training providers and community services to strengthen young people’s outcomes.
Support more young people from vulnerable backgrounds to access higher education. For example, the “Raising Expectations” project (Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, Federation University, La Trobe University) more than doubled the number of care leavers attending the participating universities.
Create more meaningful and accessible volunteering opportunities for young people who have traditionally engaged less in that space, such as young people with disability and young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
Build young people’s skills, aspirations and connections to supportive adults through high quality opportunities in youth leadership, mentoring, volunteering, clubs, associations, sports and arts.
How you can take action
Ask your local candidates these questions in the lead up to the 2018 state election:
1. What 'big picture' changes does our community need, so that every young person can build a rewarding career?
2. What steps would the candidates take to strengthen career opportunities for young people with disability?
3. What steps would they take to connect young people with potential employers, career mentors, and role models from a range of professions? How would they make sure this includes young people at risk of disadvantage?