GEN Y-outh joblessness

“You have to be prepared to have a go, work hard and don’t believe any job is beneath you. We all have to start somewhere.”

This is what Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently told an audience of leading employers.

However, recent reports showing the number of unemployed youth in Australia has increased three-fold since the Global Financial Crisis make us wonder whether a bit of tough lovin’ will really address this big issue of youth unemployment.

When she graduated from a Bachelor of Science degree at Monash University last year, Sajee Nanayakkara was overwhelmed at being a step closer to her dream of working with animals.

Yet her unemployment dry spell since her graduation, that has now lasted for almost half a year, has left the future of Nanayakkara’s dreams dwindling with uncertainty.

“Finding a job at the moment has been quite a struggle. I’m finding it very difficult to find appropriate full time jobs let alone apply for them,” Nanayakkara said.

And unfortunately, she is not alone.

In 2008 there were 19 500 long-term unemployed young people (aged 15 to 24) in Australia. According to recent Australian Bureau of Statistics reports, that number now sits at 56 800.

A further report released by The Brotherhood of St Laurence outlined that in Victoria alone, there are 81 900 unemployed young people and 14 000 who have not worked at all in 12 months.

Daniel* is a part of the latter. Despite his frequent job applications in the fast food, retail and other industries, this May will mark Daniel’s eighteenth month of unemployment.

Daniel, who is in his second year of university studying media, believes there is nothing more demoralising and disheartening than the flood of rejection emails and letters he has received during the past year and a half.

“Your work ethic disappears and you soon find yourself without the money, pride and work to do anything. It’s an endless cycle,” says Daniel.

Job searching can get more and more difficult over time, according to the Brotherhood of St Laurence executive director, Tony Nicholson.

”A long period of unemployment in your youth dramatically increases the chances of being unemployed in your adult working years,” Nicholson told Fairfax.

And for the hundreds of university graduates like, Sajee – this feeling is all too familiar.

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When I initially started job hunting I was focused on finding jobs only related to working with animals and their welfare. After seeing how little job opportunities there are, I have been looking for any laboratory jobs and graduate programs in which I can gain some experience and eventually work myself up”, she said.

The frustration that goes hand in hand with the job searching process only exacerbates the situation.

When I took to social media to discuss this frustration, a flood of people responded:

—“Handing out dozens of resumes and sometimes receiving no reply was the most frustrating thing ever.”

—“I’ve worked hard at school, university and in my volunteer work, yet it seems pointless because no one is willing to hire me.”

—“You spend so much time perfecting your resume and cover letter for each application, but still get rejected.”

As Melbourne’s unemployment rate reaches twice of that of the national average rate, fears for Australia’s jobless youth is also rising.


*Name has been changed

By Hashela Kumarawansa

Picture via Flickr


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