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The headlines are good, but not if you’re young

Victoria looks pretty healthy on paper: in our 26th year of positive economic growth, with real gross state product increasing by 3.5 per cent in 2017–2018 and unemployment at less than 5 per cent.

But look a little deeper and there are some disturbing trends about where the state’s good fortune isn’t reaching.

Victoria’s youth unemployment remains stubbornly high at 10.9 per cent. In regional areas the situation is even worse: Bendigo has a youth unemployment rate of 15.3 per cent and Shepparton is at 14.9 per cent.

And not only are many young people struggling to find work, but the jobs they can get are becoming increasingly precarious.

More young people aged 20 to 24 are working part-time than 40 years ago – and not because they’re studying. Young people are struggling to find secure, full-time jobs, and are likely to take whatever they can get. For many, this will be low-paid, part-time positions.

This trend towards part-time employment means many young Victorians are unable to meet basic living and housing costs, or gain the experience and skills they need to get a good full-time job in the future.

Secure and meaningful work contributes to individual and community wellbeing.

Stable employment provides people with an income and contributes to their sense of identity and self-worth.

It means being able to plan for the future – pay the bills, afford a car, take out a mortgage or pay rent. It means being able to take a day off work if you’re sick, and still get paid.

In VCOSS’ State Budget Submission, we’re calling on the Victorian Government to develop a Victorian Youth Jobs Plan.

Co-designed with young people and their communities, this plan can bring together government, educators, jobseeker supports and employers to reduce Victoria’s high youth unemployment.

It will map out existing policies and programs that support young people to transition from education and training into the workforce, drawing on lessons from the successful Jobs Victoria Employment Network.

The Plan will also map out better connections to support young people to complete their education and training and transition into the workforce, leveraging off the Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLENs).

LLENs bring together employers, schools, training providers and community services to strengthen young people’s education, training and employment outcomes.  They provide brokerage and innovation to help young people successfully navigate into a career.

Currently the LLENs are funded until the end of 2019 and VCOSS is calling for an extension of their funding in this year’s budget.

Together these actions can provide a blueprint to help turn things around for the thousands of young people trying to get into the job market.