The coronavirus recession could doom many young Australians to tough and frustrating employment futures if recent history is a guide.
” … from 2008 (the Global Financial Crisis period) to 2018, young people had more difficulty getting jobs in the occupations they aspired to,” Productivity Commission chair Michael Brennan wrote in the foreword to a staff working paper released in July titled “Climbing the jobs ladder slower: Young people in a weak labor market.”
“And if they started in a less attractive occupation, it was even harder than before 2008 to climb the occupation ladder.”
“This suggests that poor initial opportunities could have serious long-term consequences.”
Mr Brennan said the data used in the paper by Catherine de Fontenay, Bryn Lampe, Jessica Nugent and Patrick Jomini was from before the coronavirus recession, but its findings were of “heightened salience” in the current circumstances.
“Many young people have experienced unemployment recently and are likely to face a reduced set of job opportunities as a result of the recession,” Mr Brennan said.
“This scarring could last some time.
“Also, while some young people might choose to pursue further study and return to the job market when things are more favourable, this paper suggests that, if labour markets continue to be weak, additional education can lead to a mismatch between existing job opportunities and aspirations.”
Tasmanian demographer Lisa Denny is also concerned about what she describes as “a mismatch between the career aspirations of young people at school with the realities of the labour market”.
Dr Denny said that was made worse by a lack of understanding and knowledge of educational pathways, “which means that young people aspire to work in jobs that don’t exist in the quantum for all those who want to and study for that particular job … which means that we have the outcome of young people unable to get jobs in what they qualify for (over-qualification and underemployment) and a skill/labour shortage in the jobs that we have increasing demand for”.
Dr Denny suggested educating young people while they were at school – as young as primary school age – about the labour market, about the jobs which existed and what they would need to do to get those jobs and preparing them for the realities of the workforce.
“We need to better educate teachers, careers advisers, parents, career influencers etc. about jobs of the future and educational pathways,” she said.
“We also need to educate employers and industries about what they need to do to communicate their needs and expectations and opportunities directly to school-aged children.”