Olivia lives with the rare Kleefstra Syndrome.

News Articles and analysis

VCOSS snapshot: Youth unemployment in Victoria and Melbourne’s north

On 13 April 2015, VCOSS CEO, Emma King, sat down with ABC 774 Melbourne’s Jon Faine to explore youth unemployment in Victoria, taking a particular focus on the northern metropolitan region of Melbourne. If you missed it you can catch up on the The Conversation Hour online. VCOSS prepared the following snapshot of youth unemployment in northern metropolitan Melbourne.

It is clear that Victoria today is facing a jobs crisis. Youth unemployment is at its highest level since the 1990s and Victoria’s underemployment rate is the highest it has been in more than 40 years.

Youth unemployment is growing in Victoria. VCOSS analysis of the most recent ABS data shows that Victoria ended 2014 with the highest recorded yearly average youth unemployment rate since the 1990s, at 14.6 per cent for the year.

This analysis also reaffirms that youth unemployment is highest in areas of concentrated disadvantage, including Melbourne’s outer urban fringe and parts of regional Victoria.

In late 2014 Victoria’s unemployment rate hit 6.8 per cent, its highest level in over a decade. There are now more than six unemployed people for every job vacancy. There are growing numbers of people who are long-term unemployed.

While Victoria’s rising overall unemployment rate is alarming, now at 6.1 per cent, in areas such as Bendigo, Geelong, Warrnambool, Shepparton and in Melbourne’s north, west and south-east, youth unemployment rates range from 17.1 per cent to 18.8 per cent.

 

Table 1: Average monthly unemployment rate, Victorian Regions, Aged 15-24

 

1999

*

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

 Victoria

13.4

*

9.4

11.3

12.0

11.5

12.7

12.5

14.6

   Greater Melbourne

12.8

*

9.2

11.3

10.9

11.1

12.5

12.8

14.3

      Melbourne – Inner

11.5

*

7.4

9.6

9.3

9.9

12.6

13.0

12.5

      Melbourne – Inner East

9.8

*

8.3

8.9

8.9

9.2

10.3

12.8

13.5

      Melbourne – Inner South

12.7

*

8.2

8.9

8.4

9.9

15.3

11.5

15.0

      Melbourne – North East

15.2

*

9.7

9.1

8.4

13.0

11.6

12.3

15.5

      Melbourne – North West

14.6

*

7.8

13.0

16.6

11.5

10.8

14.9

15.5

      Melbourne – Outer East

10.4

*

7.2

12.3

9.3

8.3

11.6

12.0

12.1

      Melbourne – South East

12.2

*

11.5

11.5

13.1

12.4

11.4

12.0

13.4

      Melbourne – West

14.9

*

12.5

15.3

12.8

13.2

15.7

14.2

15.4

      Mornington Peninsula

17.3

*

10.2

10.5

9.5

10.4

10.6

12.1

17.6

    Rest of Vic

15.3

*

9.8

11.4

15.6

13.0

13.5

11.6

15.8

      Ballarat

22.7

*

12.8

14.9

17.0

15.2

16.3

11.8

14.7

      Bendigo

21.9

*

15.2

13.7

13.6

10.7

10.1

14.5

17.8

      Geelong

13.3

*

9.9

11.9

18.4

11.1

14.7

13.1

18.6

      Hume

16.2

*

10.4

10.8

15.9

14.4

14.0

17.5

12.9

      Latrobe – Gippsland

18.7

*

8.5

8.4

14.2

14.2

13.5

10.9

11.2

      Victoria – North West

8.2

*

7.9

12.7

18.2

14.5

9.8

9.4

17.8

      Shepparton

8.1

*

14.4

14.4

16.8

12.8

14.7

6.4

17.1

      Warrnambool & South West

12.7

*

7.2

11.3

12.1

12.5

14.1

14.3

18.8

 Table 1 taken from VCOSS analysis of ABS RM1 – Labour force status by Region (ASGS SA4), Sex and Age, October 1998 onwards

The latest available data shows that unemployment is concentrated in areas of higher social disadvantage and poorer access to the services and supports that people need. The latest publication of the Department of Employment’s Small Area Labour Markets (SALM) shows that parts of Melbourne’s outer urban fringe have significantly higher levels of general unemployment than the Victorian average.

Melbourne’s north

Analysis of the SALM data shows that areas in Melbourne’s north record some of the highest localised unemployment figures in the state and are well above the Victorian (6.0 per cent) and national (6.3 per cent) averages. In some Statistical Areas (SA2s) the rates of general unemployment are extremely high.
These SA2s include: Epping – 14.4 per cent, Lalor – 15.4 per cent, Thomastown – 14.1 per cent, Meadow Heights – 21.8 per cent, Campbellfield – 22 per cent, Broadmeadows – 25.7 per cent. The LGAs that contain these SA2s within their boundaries also exhibit significantly higher levels of general unemployment.

Table 2: Unemployment by LGA, Northern Metropolitan Melbourne

 

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Banyule (C)

3.5

3.9

4.3

4.3

5.4

Darebin (C)

5.6

5.9

6.7

7.2

8.5

Hume (C)

10.1

8.4

6.9

8.9

9.7

Mitchell (S)

5.2

5.6

5.9

6.0

7.0

Moreland (C)

6.2

5.5

5.8

7.4

7.9

Nillumbik (S)

1.8

1.9

2.3

2.3

3.1

Whittlesea (C)

4.9

5.7

6.4

6.5

8.6

Yarra (C)

5.9

5.1

5.7

7.2

7.8

Melbourne North

5.4

5.2

5.5

6.2

7.2

Table 2 data from Department of Employment Small Area Labour Markets December quarter, 2014.

The youth unemployment rates in the northern corridor LGAs are also comparatively high, as shown in an analysis of youth unemployment by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR), April 2015, prepared for NORTH Link. Across the areas represented by the Banyule, Darebin, Hume, Mitchell, Moreland, Nillumbik, Whittlesea and Yarra councils the youth unemployment rate is now at 14.7 per cent, having grown from a pre-GFC level of 8.4 per cent in 2009. It is also higher than the Greater Melbourne average of 14.3 per cent.

Table 3: Unemployment of the 15-24 year old group in Melbourne’s North (2009 to 2015 – per cent)

 

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Banyule (C)

8.0

7.6

10.6

10.9

10.7

11.2

12.6

Darebin (C)

11.7

10.7

13.4

14.5

13.8

13.8

15.0

Hume (C)

10.0

17.9

19.5

13.0

15.6

18.0

17.4

Mitchell (S)

7.0

7.7

12.7

12.4

12.8

12.7

13.6

Moreland (C)

6.4

10.2

12.9

11.7

13.3

14.2

14.4

Nillumbik (S)

4.4

4.4

6.1

6.2

6.7

7.3

9.2

Whittlesea (C)

8.9

8.7

11.9

13.1

12.9

13.9

16.4

Yarra (C)

7.8

9.5

10.2

11.7

11.0

11.0

11.9

Melbourne North

8.4

10.6

13.3

12.0

12.7

13.7

14.7

Table 3 taken from Young people and unemployment in Melbourne’s North, A paper for NORTH Link, Prepared by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR), April 2015.

The level of youth unemployment is particularly pronounced in Hume – 17.4 per cent, Whittlesea – 16.4 per cent, Darebin – 15 per cent, and Moreland – 14.4 per cent.

A comparison with SALM data for the northern LGAs shows that the level of youth unemployment is significantly higher than the rate of general unemployment.

In Hume LGA, which contains the unemployment hotspots of Broadmeadows and Campbellfield, the general unemployment rate is 9.7 per cent. However the youth unemployment rate for Hume in 2014 was 18 per cent.

It is clear that the job situation for young people in these areas is severe and appears to be worsening.

Both unemployment and youth unemployment are worsening in parts of northern metropolitan Melbourne. Whittlesea has seen a substantial growth in youth unemployment since 2009, when the area recorded an 8.9 per cent youth unemployment rate, compared to 13.9 oer cent 2014.

Furthermore, the NIEIR report estimates there are now more than 12,000 unemployed 15-24 year olds in the northern metropolitan area of Melbourne. This represents a substantial growth since 2009 when there were 7000 unemployed young people in the region.

Table 4:       Unemployment of the 15-24 year old group in Melbourne’s North (2009 to 2015 – number)

 

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Banyule (C)

916

885

1042

1136

1083

1020

1211

Darebin (C)

1371

1264

1440

1617

1483

1500

1609

Hume (C)

1608

3171

3780

1895

2696

3198

3304

Mitchell (S)

217

235

349

370

377

358

391

Moreland (C)

830

1379

1865

1504

1761

2110

2089

Nillumbik (S)

318

326

390

415

435

436

581

Whittlesea (C)

1320

1311

1578

1934

1907

1916

2323

Yarra (C)

514

636

682

802

709

846

851

Melbourne North

7095

9207

11126

9673

10450

11385

12359

Table 4 taken from Young people and unemployment in Melbourne’s North, A paper for NORTH Link, Prepared by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR), April 2015.

The growth in overall numbers of unemployed young people is particularly high in Hume – 1608 in 2009 to 3198 in 2014, Whittlesea – 1320 in 2009 to 1916 in 2014, and Moreland – 830 in 2009 to 2110 in 2014.

Melbourne’s North traditionally has been a centre for manufacturing, the food process manufacturing sector is growing jobs while the automotive manufacturing sector is losing jobs and doing so rapidly. The later will have a further trickle-down effect on youth unemployment, particularly in the automotive supply chain and in the businesses servicing that industry. As other sectors have declined their employment prospects, opportunities for youth employment have improved in the retail and construction sectors as these have grown because of the population growth in Melbourne’s North. While the health sector has grown jobs rapidly and may have absorbed some employment of the younger cohort more needs to be done in the development of education to employment pathways to highlight the job opportunities in this sector for young people [ii].

Effects of unemployment on disadvantaged Victorians

People facing disadvantage can encounter multiple and complex barriers to employment. Within Victoria there are groups that experience higher rates of unemployment, underemployment and long-term unemployment than the general community. These include young people and people living in rural and regional areas, among others. With the overall unemployment rate rising in Victoria, it is people such as these, already vulnerable to unemployment, who are most likely to be the ones to lose their jobs and least likely to be able to find new jobs.

Aboriginal people have an unemployment rate of about 19 per cent in Victoria. In 2009, only 48 per cent of people with a disability had a job, compared with 78 per cent of those without a disability. Others most vulnerable to unemployment include single parents, people from culturally diverse backgrounds, young people who disengage from education, people who are caring for ageing or ill family members, and older people who are stranded when industries succumb to global competition pressures, or changing technologies, and are dramatically downsized, leaving tens of thousands retrenched.

These groups are among those hit most often and most severely by rising rates of unemployment, underemployment, long-term unemployment and workforce exclusion, bringing crippling and devastating effects for people, their families and whole communities.

VCOSS members regularly tell us about the increasing numbers of people coming to their organisations for support and emergency relief. These people face heightened fears and risk of isolation, financial crisis, homelessness and family conflict. We know that unemployment further entrenches the cycle of disadvantage and poverty that some people in our community face.

Effects of youth unemployment

For younger people the impact of long-term unemployment and disengagement from work and learning can be profound.

Young people who experience long periods of unemployment can suffer a life-long ‘scarring’ effect, with long-term unemployed young people at higher risk of long-term poverty and social exclusion for the rest of their lives – Brotherhood of St Laurence, Australian Youth Unemployment 2014: Snapshot, 2014.

Youth unemployment and underemployment risk having a scarring effect on an entire generation of young Victorians.

“One in five teenagers in the labour market are unable to get a job. Many young people are also underemployed, working in casual and part-time jobs, but wanting and needing to work more.

“The youth labour force under-utilisation rate (combining the numbers of unemployed as well as underemployed 15-24 year olds) jumped from about 19 per cent in early 2008 to almost 27 per cent in mid-2009, following the global financial crisis. Adding up the numbers in 2014, the Brotherhood of St Laurence concluded that more than 580,000 young Australians (over 28 per cent) are either underemployed or unemployed.[iii]
Kitty te Riele, VCOSS Insight magazine, forthcoming publication – April 2015.

In Victoria 10,000 school-age people disengage early from education every year [iv]. The future circumstances for these people can be bleak. Young people who do not finish school are far more likely to be unemployed into their 20s and beyond than their contemporaries.

In 2011, about 35 per cent of 20-24 year old Victorians whose highest level of school attainment was Year 11 or below were either unemployed or had withdrawn entirely from the workforce or study[v].

More and more young people are finding themselves in a void between education and employment, participating in neither. NIEIR research shows that it is now not only disadvantaged youth that are at risk, young people from advantaged households are also becoming disengaged and because they are not in education and not claiming any form of benefits, this means that this group has ‘vanished’ from the radar.

The underfunding of services that link education and employment is a serious issue. This includes career guidance at school where many students are left making snap decisions about their future at critical points on their pathway to employment. The Local Learning Education Networks (LLENs) in Victoria are also doing important work in linking education and business, City based LLENs have recently had severe funding cuts while funding to TAFEs is being re-instated, in some ways this describes a disconnected policy approach.

Vocational training is important and the demand driven TAFE system and the role of RTOs needs further investigation. Training for training’s sake with no job prospects in the particular field of training is a pointless and costly exercise to both student and government. Many young people now appear to be on this treadmill.[vi]

Strategies to get Victorians back to work

Evidence shows that keeping young people engaged in education is an important key to reducing youth unemployment. For young Victorians, paid work is central to their wellbeing. It provides a financial income, a source of pride and purpose, a means of engaging with and cooperating with others, and attracting recognition and respect. It enables people to hope for the future and make long term plans.

Increasing workforce participation among young people facing disadvantage will help reduce long-term unemployment, strengthen families and break intergenerational cycles of poverty.

The VCOSS State Budget Submission 2015-16: Building a Victoria without poverty and the 2014 paper Tackling Unemployment outline a range of strategies to begin to deal with Victoria’s growing levels if unemployment. These include building vulnerable people’s skills and capabilities, creating the jobs people need, where they need them, developing inclusive and flexible workplaces and improving labour mobility and availability.

The state government has committed to addressing spiralling unemployment, both before last year’s election and since coming into office. It’s ‘Back to Work’ plan to create new jobs, incentives for business to hire young people and long-term unemployed people, and to invest in regional areas, and education and training is welcome. But we need to do more to really target supports and strategies to those who are most vulnerable to unemployment.

Creating the majority of new jobs through infrastructure projects in the heart of Melbourne does not necessarily help the thousands of young unemployed people in regional areas like Shepparton or Warrnambool. These are not meaningful job options for them. Fostering high-growth employment industries such as medical technology, pharmaceuticals and international education may not always create jobs these people can take up, or create them in their local areas. And regional development funds are only of worth to unemployed people if they create jobs, training and education opportunities that match up to help local people fill the jobs available.

Links between education; that is school, TAFE and university and business are internationally recognised as critically important to both developing the careers and skills of young people as well as providing industry with a talented pool of workers. In Melbourne’s North these critical links tend to be weak so a far greater effort is required to strengthen them [vii].

Tackling Unemployment outlines how we need to create jobs in the areas where they are most needed, and of a type that people facing unemployment can fill. We need to train people up to fill existing and new jobs created. We also need to support people to live in areas where jobs are more prevalent, but living costs are higher, by expanding affordable housing there. We need to invest in a public transport system that helps people access a wider range of jobs that are available. We need to create more mentoring and entry-level positions for young people. We need single parents and other carers to be able to access the training, support and childcare they need to work. We need to set targets that encourage employers to recruit a diverse range of people.

As part of its commitment to getting all Victorians back to work, the state government can support people aged 17–24 who face barriers to employment, by funding a ‘work ready’ pre-employment and training program to provide intensive, case-managed support. This will complement its policy of reinvesting in the TAFE system, and help those most at risk of unemployment avoid long-term joblessness.

Youth Connections

Since 2010, the Youth Connections program has been highly successful in assisting vulnerable young people who have disengaged or are at risk of disengaging from school early, to complete Year 12 or its equivalent and transition to further education or work. The program provided intensive, case-managed support to address the barriers some young people face in completing their education. In Victoria about 4,600 young people were supported through Youth Connections each year. The loss of Youth Connections from 2015 as a result of federal government funding cuts means this important resource will no longer be available in Victoria. Youth Connections had excellent results: 94 per cent of young people who took part in the program were at school or engaged in learning or employment six months later and 81.5 per cent two years on.

The loss of Youth Connections is being felt across Victoria. Community sector organisations are reporting increased demand for services and support and local governments are reporting a significant increase in demand for youth case management due to the loss of this program.

Flexible learning programs

The state government can prevent vulnerable students disengaging from education by expanding flexible learning options, in both mainstream and alternative settings, to address the complex issues students may experience, such as housing, transport, legal issues, family violence, health and childcare. More than 10,000 Victorian school-aged students disengage from school every year and schools are a key point of intervention to keep young people engaged. Flexible education programs can operate within mainstream schools, TAFEs and community colleges, as well as through separate alternative programs for students who need more targeted options. These programs seek to enable young people for whom schooling previously has not worked well, to learn and achieve skills and qualifications, improved wellbeing, and enhanced life opportunities. Flexible learning programs also provide supports that address the complex issues students may experience, such as housing, transport, legal issues, health, and childcare. Many are based on partnerships with business, social and health agencies, and local government. Flexible options particularly benefit students who need additional support, such as those living in out-of-home care. Educational outcomes for children in residential care continue to be poor, with low participation rates.

There are more than 340 flexible learning programs across Victoria, operating as separate ‘alternative’ schools, or as part of a mainstream high school or TAFE/community college. [viii] These programs aim to catch young people who have fallen through the cracks of traditional approaches to secondary education – usually due to challenging life circumstances including poverty, mental illness, homelessness or teenage pregnancy. Through flexible learning programs, many of these students successfully re-engage with learning, attain valuable education credentials, contribute to the community – and gain employment. – Extract from article by Kitty te Riele in forthcoming publication of VCOSS Insight magazine, April 2015.


Case studies:
The 
Pavilion School

The Pavilion School is a state secondary school for students who have disengaged from or been excluded by schools or education providers. With two campuses in Melbourne’s north, The Pavilion School aims to give its students the opportunity to enhance their education and social development, and to negotiate their transition into further education, employment or training at their own pace. The Mill Park campus is co-located with the City of Whittlesea Baseline Youth Services and a range of other specialist services. This has been a highly successful model.

Many of The Pavilion School students are referred from other agencies, with a focus on children and young people in residential care and those who have come into contact with the youth justice system. The Pavilion School’s model has been highly successful and is being replicate in schools around Victoria, including in Mildura, Warrnambool, Broadmeadows and Caulfield.

St Luke’s Educational Services Unit

St Luke’s Educational Services Unit, part of Anglicare Victoria, supports people aged 12-17 who are unable to attend mainstream school, mainly due to extreme behavioural issues. Many students are living in out-of-home care or on statutory orders. Students remain enrolled at local mainstream schools and attend classes off-campus through St Luke’s. Every student has an Individual Education Plan based on their strengths and interests that includes curriculum options and a focus on their wellbeing and self-confidence. Students attend the program for one to six years before returning to their neighbourhood school or being assisted to take another pathway, such as TAFE studies, apprenticeships or employment.

Conclusion

Youth unemployment is clearly a significant and pressing issue that needs to be addressed. However there is broad consensus on the most effective strategies to keep people engaged in education and to provide pathways into employment. With our unemployment rate rising, it is time to develop a workforce participation plan that includes all Victorians, by including measures that particularly support vulnerable Victorians. VCOSS believes that government, business and the community sector can work together to develop a workforce participation plan that helps break the cycle of disadvantage and unemployment, helps prevent people slipping into long-term unemployment, keeps people engaged in the workforce and tackles unemployment in a way that helps get all Victorians back to work.


[i] Department of Employment, Small Area Labour Markets, December 2014 Publication, released March 2015 https://employment.gov.au/small-area-labour-markets-publication

[ii] Young people and unemployment in Melbourne’s North, A paper for NORTH Link,
Prepared by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR), April 2015

[iii] Brotherhood of St Laurence (2014). Barely working. Young and underemployed in Australia. Available: http://www.bsl.org.au/fileadmin/user_upload/files/campaign/Barely_Working.pdf

[iv] The Age, “10,000 children dropping out of school”, 11 May 2014

[v] Productivity Commission, Report on Government Services 2015, Child care, education and training

[vi] Young people and unemployment in Melbourne’s North, A paper for NORTH Link, Prepared by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR), April 2015

[vii] ibid

[viii] Kitty te Riele, VCOSS Insight magazine, forthcoming publication – April 2015.
Data drawn from Dusseldorp Forum, alternative learning program database