New research from the OECD tells us 580,000 young Australians aged between 15 and 29—that’s one in ten—are not in education, employment or training. They’re neither “earning” nor “learning”, as our political leaders might say.
The cost to society is large, at over $16 billion each year.
But the cost to young people themselves is even greater.
Just think about the environment facing younger jobseekers today: traditional industries are in decline, shonky Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers are running amok, many training courses don’t lead to real jobs and childcare isn’t accessible to those on low incomes.
Even available jobs are increasingly unstable with positions being insecure and casualised. (We’ve noted elsewhere how this style of work causes and exacerbates social disadvantage.) And don’t forget the appalling inadequacy of Australia’s minimum safety net where job seekers are asked to live on $38 a day.
It is often said the ‘jobs of the future’ don’t exist yet. But there is an industry where these future jobs will lie.
Read the OECD report. Article continues below.
Over the next 15 years, healthcare and social assistance will be the fastest growing industry in Victoria. It is anticipated there will be almost 200,000 additional healthcare and social assistance jobs in Victoria by 2031. As outlined the recent More than Charity report, the social services sector already employ 134,958 workers across the state.With the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and an ageing population, opportunities abound. There are going to be lots of jobs. Demand for workers may even outstrip supply in the near future, turning the current labour market on its head.
But what if we build it, and they don’t come?
There are a number of things that are needed to ensure young people are attracted to healthcare and social service. They need pathways into the sector through education and training. They need a sector that can offer interesting and diverse careers. And they need to work in an industry that is viewed not as a cost to society, but a valued, professional industry with the pay and conditions that attract young people and job seekers.
The Future Social Service Institute is currently looking at these challenges, and has been tasked with designing new education programs to train the social service ‘workforce of the future’. Research into emerging trends and opportunities in social sector reform is also part of the Insitute’s brief.
So when we ask ourselves where with our kids work in the future, the answer may already be there.