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Targeting youth unemployment to make a difference

02 December 2014

Remember leaving school or university, applying for jobs and seeing these dreaded words:  ‘experience a must’.

It’s the perfect Catch 22 and whether you’re female or male the experience can be awful.  How, when you are just entering the workforce, are you meant to have experience?

The unemployment rate for young Australians is 25.1 percent (ABS, Labour force, Cat No. 6202.0, September 2012). For young people living in the top 10 areas of disadvantage in the nation, that rate rises to above 40 percent. One of these areas is in Indigenous youth employment. The area of recruitment is an area in which Westpac has made some major inroads as part of the Group’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

The youth unemployment statistics are a wake-up call. Young people need support to become effective employees and we need them to grow the economy and our productivity as a country.

Obtaining a first job is often the hardest step a young person faces. It presents challenges that can shatter confidence and undermine the way young people feel about themselves.

My First Job

Young people need support to enter the workforce, and they can often be overlooked for employment in favour of an individual who requires less training and focus. Having the right skills, networks and referees are all crucial to the challenges of landing a first job.

Following all that, how do you stay in a job when you are often amongst the lowest skilled and most vulnerable workers in the labour market? Knowing your rights and standing up for them after years in the structure of school are unfamiliar areas for many young people.

In a White Paper by My First Job - an initiative that brings together organisations to make a positive contribution to reducing youth unemployment in Australia, Westpac’s role in supporting young Indigenous Australian job seekers into employment and training is showcased.

The White Paper was developed by the My First Job Working Group, which includes representatives from Westpac, Department of Employment, Coles, Group Training Australia, Jobs Australia, McDonald's, The Smith Family and SYC, an Adelaide-based not-for-profit organisation.

There are five critical elements that the group recommends should be included in any initiative seeking to lift youth employment outcomes.

  • Effective engagement of employers and young people to create and explore opportunities for employment
  • Work readiness, including components to help prepare young people for work
  • Clearly defining labour market needs and offering training options to meet them
  • Implementation of a 'job interview guarantee' to encourage young people to work hard in their job preparation with the knowledge there is a real job opportunity at the end of their pre-employment preparation
  • Post-placement support: for employers and the young person to sustain employment for 12 months.

The My First Job site also has a great story section where people can upload their experience of getting, working and staying in their first job.

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