Where are young Australians in Budget 2018-19?

Where are young Australians in Budget 2018-19?

Young Australians are again missing in the 2018-19 Federal Budget, repeating the same missed opportunity as the 2017-18 Budget - to invest in Australia by backing our 4.3 million young people and the role they play in our future prosperity.

The past twenty years has seen the debate about Australia’s future, and the role of public policy, largely shaped by the needs of our aging population. With a focus on an ageing nation – this year’s budget included – there has been little attention given to the needs of young people as they become increasingly charged with the responsibility of caring for an aging population.  In 2012, there were more than five working people for every person aged over 65, but by 2042, there will only be approx 2.5.

Our children and young people are growing up in a world driven by automation, where 40% of existing jobs will be transformed or disrupted in the next decade. Globalisation increasingly means jobs being undertaken remotely. The increasingly flexible nature of the modern workforce will likely see a 15-year-old today navigating a portfolio of 17 jobs in 5 different industries. Sometimes self-employed, at other times working with and for, others.

Already some young people are being left behind with 1 in 3 young people un or underemployed, and transitions from full time education to full time work taking longer. This is largely due to the glaring mismatch between what young people are learning and what employers are looking for, as highlighted in FYA’s New Basics report.

Young people in work benefits the entire nation. Research shows that if youth unemployment and underemployment were brought in line with the rest of the population, it would generate up to $11.3 billion in additional GDP for Australia. Australia’s best future lies with a generation of young people who can create a more equitable, prosperous and sustainable society. To do this, they need an education that focuses on equipping them with the real world skills and capabilities to navigate and thrive in a changing job market.

There is no evidence in this Budget that this is understood as one of the most significant issues we must address.

The three key Budget takeaways that did resonate with FYA included:

  • More funding into regional, rural and remote areas with an emphasis on education and access to Youth Allowance;
  • $90 million into creating more places for its Transitions to Work program, creating 40,000 places for at risk 15-21 year olds; and
  • $700,000 for the Brotherhood of St Laurence to set up a Youth Employment Body to create jobs for long term unemployed young people.

Combined with the recent commitment to implement recommendations from the second education review conducted by David Gonski, these measures are an acknowledgement that more needs to be done to ensure the every young person has access to education and work opportunities.

We’re clearly not the only ones who noticed practical, future focussed solutions were missing for young Australians:

In the lead up to a Federal Election, FYA strongly believes that we need renewed, comprehensive and inter-generational investment in Australia’s young people to ensure a strong future for our nation on a whole. Such an investment would encompass:

  • A ‘nation building’ focused education strategy to redesign the learning system from preschool through higher education (and beyond);
  • A new skills, training, careers education and real jobs commitment to young Australians; and
  • A promise and plan for the equitable intergenerational transfer of knowledge, resources and power in the new economy.

This is a long term investment in the future of our country that we cannot afford to neglect any longer.