The Foundation for Young Australians new report “The New Work Reality” follows the journeys of 14,000 young people over ten years, from the age of 15 to 25. This is what they found.

What has the report found?

As we know all too well, the nature of work is changing, as are the types of skills needed. The changing nature of work and the skills and experience needed to gain work can be challenging for young people.

The report reveals that young Australians face a number of significant barriers when seeking full-time work. Indeed, the research found “it took on average 2.6 years to transition from leaving education to full-time work”, and “while nearly 60% of young Australians aged 25 hold a post-school qualification”, 50% of them were not working full-time. This creates problems, with 28% reporting anxiety and more than 40% saying they were affected by stress. Put simply, the report found that 31.5% of young people are unemployed or underemployed.

So, what are the barriers?

While there might not be enough jobs to go around, and seven out of ten young people see this as a factor, other factors are in play too. These include three in four believing that they do not have enough work experience, half stating that they lacked the appropriate education and training, particularly in the technical skills needed to gain full-time work. But all of this comes down to a lack of career management skills. One in four young people believe “they lack the necessary interview and job application skills to be able to attain full-time work.”

How can the transition be made easier?

In essence, this boils down to what sorts of things enable and support young people to accelerate their transition from education to work and what can be done to support young people during this time.

The report makes a few suggestions. First, it suggests that a young person “who is happy with their career prospects begins working full-time hours two months faster than a young person who is not happy with their career prospects.” Second, those young people who choose employment options “with a strong future focus” can speed up the transition by

5 months. Both of these require good advice on career guidance and the right aptitudes.

However, the big bang for the buck is really elsewhere. Having relevant paid employment:  which combines studying and working in a job that is within their desired job cluster can speed up the transition significantly. The report points out that:

“By working 2,000 hours in a relevant job a young person can accelerate the transition by 5 months, and by working 5,000 hours a young person can accelerate the transition by 12 months.”

This seems to make the VET sector’s approach to education and training almost ideal.

The biggest factor, though, is this: gaining ‘enterprise skills’ through courses that teach or develop such abilities problem-solving, communication skills and teamwork. This, the report found, can “increase the speed of attaining full-time work by 17 months.”

Finally, to help ensure young people are prepared and equipped with the skills and capabilities they need “to successfully navigate their futures” there is a need to find ways to help young people gain the career management skills they need to navigate the new work reality. In addition, young people need to be encouraged to “choose pathways that will equip them with enterprise skills that are portable to many jobs in their future which are key to successful transitions.”

To do this the report suggests that new models for work integrated learning need to be considered “to ensure young people can gain the critical relevant work experience they need alongside their education” and “ensure our systems support well-being for young

people entering this transition period in their lives.”

And in case you want more

The Foundation for Young Australians has published a wide range of work that may interest this article’s readers. You can find a link to additional resources here.