When I graduated from uni at 22, my friends all disappeared to explore the States or chill out in Vietnam. Instead, I spent a year of my life on Seek.com.au trying to find someone who would give a fresh faced young fella an opportunity to prove he knows how to click a mouse, send an email and sit quietly and observe in meetings.
I had a degree in video production (not the most in demand degree, granted) and a glint in my eye that said “Hello, I will take literally any job that relates even a little bit to my field of study.”
In a lot of ways it was a fun year but also a very stressful time. I was getting as much experience in the field as I could, which for me meant doing a hell of a lot of work for free, and supporting myself working nights at a bottle shop. I was lucky enough to live at home during this time, so I was in a fortunate enough position not to need full time work to get by. It was probably for this reason only that I actually could do a lot of work for free.
Over the course of the year I applied for close to 200 roles… and I’m one of the lucky ones that actually found a job. We now know that a young person, on average, will take on average 4.7 years to transition from full time education to full time work. I can’t even comprehend how hard it must be to be sending out job application after job application and only getting back a rejection letter every now and again for almost 5 times as long as I had to.
But there’s more to the struggles of young people finding work than it just taking a long time or the (largely untrue) idea that we’re not motivated enough to go out and look for it. We’re also paying more for our education, with a 3 year degree now costing on average $26,298, up from $10,342 (adjusted for inflation) in the early 90s. How the heck am I supposed to get on the housing ladder if I’m struggling to cover the basic costs of living?
The fact is, that while more young people are finishing high school and getting uni degrees than ever before (we’re 1.7 times more likely to complete university than our parents) the job market is shifting and the education sector is struggling to keep up with the changing demands. We’re not coming out the other side of education adequately prepared for the changing job market.
Government and education institutions are aware but they’ve not got plans in place to address the growing concerns of unemployment and underemployment. But we’re betting that maybe you do? We want young people to be part of a global conversation how to tackle the epidemic of youth underemployment and unemployment.
Recently, an independent community inquiry has been launched into the global issue of youth transitions from education to work. Youth Development Australia are currently seeking young people to fill a bunch of varied roles in the commission with the goal of developing solutions to unemployment and underemployment in young people. If you have something to add to the global conversation you should absolutely head right here and throw your hat in the ring. You can be a Youth Commissioner, a member of the NYC Youth Advisory Group or an Ambassador. There really aren’t many conversations going on in the world right now that are as important as this one and we firmly believe young people have the solutions.