Hunter Valley Young Miss 28 years of “Jobson Groath”

Anti-poverty group’s report smashes the ‘avocado’ generation myth .

An estimated 75,300 young people aged 15 to 24 were unemployed in NSW in December 2018.

Hunter region youth unemployment levels remain stubbornly high at over 13%.

Across Australia the youth unemployment rate is stagnating at the levels seen in the early 2000s, despite 28 years of economic growth.

The 11.2% national youth unemployment rate is more than twice Australia’s overall unemployment rate (5%), at December 2018, and almost three times the unemployment rate of those aged 25 and over. Across Australia, this translates to a quarter of a million young people who are still unemployed.

A report released today maps unemployment “hotspots” for young people in NSW to find the Coffs Harbour – Grafton region is the second worst area for youth unemployment nationally with more than 20% of young people in the labour force unemployed.

While the state’s youth unemployment rate was 10.1%, below the national rate of 11.2%, some regions were well above it, says the report published [PDF download] by national anti-poverty group, the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

Youth unemployment rates for NSW’s five worst youth unemployment “hotspots” are (from Australian Bureau of Statistics data using the 12-month average to December 2018):

  • 13.3% in the Hunter Valley region, excluding Newcastle, including Nelson Bay, Singleton, Cessnock, Muswellbrook and Merriwa
  • 13.7% in the Central Coast region, including Gosford, The Entrance, Woy Woy and Budgewoi
  • 23.3% in the Coffs Harbour – Grafton region, including Nambucca Heads, Bellingen, Yamba, Dorrigo
  • 14.3 % in the New England and North West region, including Armidale, Moree, Tamworth, Tenterfield
  • 14.3% in the Riverina region, including Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Tumut, Junee

In the lead up to a federal election, the Brotherhood’s Executive Director, Conny Lenneberg, challenged policymakers to give Australia’s young people a fair go, including advancing solutions for the unprecedented challenges the emerging generation faces in the world of work in the 21st century.

Young people come out of education and training with high hopes and aspirations for independence. It’s devastating that despite 28 years of continuous economic growth, too many young Australians are locked out of the prosperity dividend,” Ms Lenneberg said.

The report maps the 20 worst “hotspot” regions for youth unemployment across Australia – including the Coffs Harbour – Grafton region and the New England and North West region in NSW – and confirms many regional and outer suburban areas bear the heaviest burden.

Ms Lenneberg said the latest “hotspots” revelation smashed stereotypes about young people and called for a more sophisticated public debate about the emerging generation’s challenges.

These figures belie stereotypes about young people. We know from our research and the experience of our services that many young people are doing it tough,” she said.

Yet young people are too often depicted in simplistic terms of consumers of overpriced smashed-avocado toast with a fascination for selfies, and that’s plain wrong.”

The Brotherhood’s report says young Australians are moving into adulthood while the nation is also navigating a period of testing social and economic change due to the interconnected challenges posed by globalisation, technology, climate change and demographic change.

We remain especially concerned at how young people without qualifications and skills or family networks are tracking in this rapidly changing economic and social environment,” Ms Lenneberg said.

To secure the future labour force and create opportunities for decent work, we need structural solutions that drill down to local job markets and infrastructure challenges.”

We also know from our practical experience that all young jobseekers in Australia need to have access to a specialist youth employment service, a one-stop-shop dedicated to their needs, whereas currently we still have a fragmented response to employment services for young people.”