Youth Pilot Programmes – how not to keep young people unemployed

In an effort to address youth unemployment in Australia, two new initiatives were recently announced by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industry, The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP:

  • Training for Employment Scholarships
  • Youth Employment Pathways

“Youth unemployment rates are unacceptable”, says Wendy Perry, however “I disagree with this blanket statement in the discussion paper,

Many employers are hesitant to take on unskilled or new workers as in-house training is resource intensive and external training is costly.” (pg. 2 Youth Pilot Programmes Discussion Paper)

Most employers I know and work with, have a genuine commitment evidenced by their willingness to employ young people giving them experience and training.”

Connecting with the broader Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda, the Youth Pilot Programmes completely miss a huge opportunity to encourage young people to considering an entrepreneurial pathway.

If young people who want to pursue entrepreneurship were eligible this would have an impact on the types of programme activities that are eligible.  For example Startup weekends, Hack Fests, coworking events, networking and coaching/mentoring.

With the Youth Pilot Programmes focussing on specific regions across Australia,

“I believe that to be successful target regions should also be selected based upon evidence of collaboration across the region between employers, service providers and regional development agencies.  Ideally this would be those regions with a workforce plan with workforce development strategies that address youth unemployment”, states Wendy Perry.

But how can these new initiatives ensure that young people don’t remain unemployable particularly when an AMP and NATSEM report shows young Australians aged under the age of 20 who are looking for a full time job are four and a half times more likely to be unemployed than older Australians.  Read the full article here.

What components of the Youth Pilot Programmes will keep youth unemployable?

  • Training in Certificate II is too low – most job roles have an entry level of Certificate III and higher
  • What is missing in all of this is the experience gap – this opportunity for young people via a scholarship could be extended to charity organisations and not for profits perhaps on a casual or part time basis with a shorter time frame
  • There needs to be benefits for keeping young people on over the longer term for the employer and the employee
  • The outcomes of the programme are mediocre not aspirational and the option of youth entrepreneurship is completely ignored

So you also need to ask, what will make young unemployed people more employable?

  • Skills breadth, depth and experience (mandatory and licence requirements are a given) based upon job role requirements
  • Exposure to entrepreneurship experiences and opportunities (like BO$$ camp and the Startup community) and entrepreneurial role models
  • Motivation to win the job and a positive approach
  • Demonstration and commitment to learn new skills
  • A new level of basic capabilities (beyond employability and foundation skills)
  • Appropriate presentation and behaviour
  • Evidence based approach to understanding job opportunities (workforce demand), skills requirements and employers expectations

Written by Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner, Workforce BluePrint, November 2014.

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