The lead up to the 2019 federal election has been tumultuous to say the least. Amidst the chaos, there have been some big promises - that if they come to fruition could be game changers. Yet for young Australians in particular there are still some issues yet to be addressed that could tip the scales.
New apprenticeships have been offered in their thousands, with the Labor Party committing to 150,000 additional apprentice incentives in areas of skill shortages, while the Coalition offered 80,000 new apprenticeships by 2024.
Labor, if successful in attaining government, has committed to providing the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) with $600,000 worth of annual funding, and an additional $3 million for projects conducted in partnership with youth stakeholders. They have also committed to appointing a Minister for Young Australians.
The Coalition’s 2019 budget included a $94 million scholarship program to encourage students to study in regional Australia, while Labor put forward a $300 million fund to upgrade buildings and equipment in universities across the country.
Commitment to the betterment of young Australians is positive. However, one jarring issue remains negligently unaddressed by major parties. That is, youth underemployment and unemployment.
Earlier this year, analysis by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) revealed that Governments across Australia are investing $91 billion annually in education and training, yet almost 1 in 3 young Australians are unemployed or underemployed. This high rate of youth unemployment is a lost opportunity for the Australian economy of more than $4.5 billion each year, making it a national issue and potentially an economic crisis that will affect us all.
WIth our politicians recently calling young voters a ‘big problem’, and suggesting that first time voters “have probably never known how good they’ve got it”. Research highlights that in fact this generation is the first to be worse off than their parents or even their grandparents. Pitting young against old provides little opportunity for lasting, collaborative solutions that our country desperately needs. It also ignores that young Australians want to contribute to as well as benefit from our economy.
FYA is committed to a future where Australians work together to innovatively tackle the most pressing social, economic and environmental issues. And our Future Skills Framework 2030 does just that. It outlines how Australian governments can work with young people, industry, educational institutions and leading thinkers across the country to move from talk to action.
With record numbers of young people enrolled to vote in this federal election, their participation will make a difference. How exactly? We’ll have to wait to May 18 to find out.
Jan Owen AM
CEO, The Foundation for Young Australians