Jobs report calls for swift action on youth unemployment

Thursday, 6 March 1997

At a time when short-term employment schemes and work-for-the-dole programs are making headlines, a new report released today (Friday, March 14) offers a fresh range of solutions to Australia's chronic youth unemployment problem.

The report, called Jobs For Young Australians, is the culmination of a two-year study by the University of Adelaide's Social Justice Research Foundation, and was funded by the Australian Youth Foundation.

Based on employment data over the period 1988-96, the report highlights unemployment "hot spots" around Australia and makes key recommendations on how to boost youth employment and rebuild the nation. One of the major recommendations, a National Charter for Economic Development, Employment and Citizenship, to be signed by industry, unions, government and the community sector, has already been endorsed by one of Australia's leading employers of young people,

The Body Shop (see below for details). The study focused on 64 employment regions in all States and Territories of Australia.

About a quarter of these regions had an average youth* jobless rate of 20% or more over the eight-year period ­ consistently double the overall jobless rate in Australia.

  • ages 15-24. Top

10 Youth Unemployment "Hot Spots":

1. Fairfield-Liverpool NSW 25.1%
2. Richmond-Tweed & Mid-North Coast NSW 24.2%
3. Barwon-Western District VIC 23.2%
4. Wide Bay-Burnett QLD 22.2%
5. Illawarra NSW 21.9%
6. Western Adelaide SA 21.7%
7. Gippsland VIC 21.3%
8. Outer Western Melbourne VIC 21.2%
9. Northern & Western SA SA 21.2%
10. Hunter NSW 20.5%

The top regions of youth unemployment for other States and Territories were:

14. Northern TAS 19.9%
16. Central Metropolitan WA 19.7%
41. Australian Capital Territory ACT 15.4%
52. Northern Territory NT 13.6%


The report details 28 recommendations, including...

  • a target of 5% unemployment by the year 2000 be set, and that this commitment be part of a new Charter to be endorsed by industry, unions, government and the community sector.
  • establishing agreements with the Superannuation industry to ensure that a greater share of Australia's national savings are invested into long-term employment generating industries.
  • the introduction of a National Youth Employment Guarantee, so that every school leaver will receive an offer of employment, Traineeship, Apprenticeship, or Higher Education place within six months of leaving school.
  • establishing a Full Employment Commission, with leading figures from business, unions and the community, to manage new government employment programs.
  • redirecting $60 million of labour market assistance funds to regions experiencing chronic youth unemployment, and providing funds for employment strategies developed at a local level.
  • ensuring that a 'Youth Employment Dividend' results from the National Competition Policy through a new levy on the States or through youth employment targets.

"There is now an obligation on the Government to seriously address the youth unemployment problems faced by our nation, rather than simply resorting to bandaid measures such as work-for-the-dole schemes and army 'boot camps'," says Mr John Spoehr, who co-edited the Jobs For Young Australians report with Dr John Spierings.

"There must be a national approach to the development of more comprehensive and long-term strategies, which should involve not only the Federal Government, but governments at all levels, as well as industry, unions and the community.We should all be working together to bring down youth unemployment to at least that level experienced by the population as a whole," he says.

"This report outlines how that can be achieved, as well as highlighting the scope and seriousness of our youth unemployment problem."

Endorsing the recommendation of a National Charter for Economic Development, Employment and Citizenship, Mr Alex McDonald from The Body Shop Australasia says: "We strongly believe that the time has come for all sectors of our communities to put prejudices aside, take a hard look at the issue and show a unified resolve to create a future for our young people.

The National Charter for Economic Development, Employment and Citizenship... is a positive step in the path to recovering our young people. The Body Shop is most pleased to endorse the Charter and will encourage other business associates to examine and if possible join in the effort to assist our young people."


Contact Details

Ms Robyn Mills
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 6341
Mobile: +61 410 689 084

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762