Employer Insights

Are the Youth of Australia Really Struggling with Unemployment?

Lisa JohnsonPosted by Lisa
min read

A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald stated that young people in Australia are pessimistic about their job prospects.  The article itself is interesting, but, because I read my news online, it's the comments that really pique my interest in stories like this.  And the comments on this one are no different. First, let's be clear – it is, without doubt, far harder for graduates to find work now than in previous decades.  For some sectors, entry roles may have been off shored, or perhaps technology has replaced the need for entry level support from a business perspective. 

But young people don't always help themselves either.  We are seeing an increasing number of university graduates who have never worked (e.g. after school jobs). Work can be a rude awakening to these young people.  

You've got to start work at 8am every morning (even when it's raining), and you get to do the crap work that nobody else has time for (it's boring and tedious). I have talked about entitlement before, and I am going to talk about it again – nobody is entitled to a job.  Nobody.  No matter how smart, friendly, talented and willing you are – nobody owes you a job. The truth is there IS work out there for people who want it.  Australia has a ridiculously low unemployment rate (and, yes, I understand that a great number of people are employed casually with no job security, but they are still earning a wage). Let me tell you a true story about a school aged kid who wanted to work with computers. 

They were fascinated by technology and wanted to find a job where they could learn how to build computers, how to identify componentry, and where they could help other people do the same. So they went into the local computer store and asked straight up if they offered internships where they could spend some time tagging along with experts. They gave them a part time job, and now the kid is learning how to build a PC and getting paid for it.  

The store had been looking for a junior technician for over 12 months but couldn't find someone with the right attitude and willingness to start at the bottom.  For sure they have gotten lucky with a kid this young and will be offering peanuts in wages, but the young person looks at it like this: the money might be awful now, but they are going to learn skills and gain experience that will make them employable in the future.  

Short term pain for a long term gain. And if it's true, and less than 20% of young Australians have any interest in computer coding or developing mobile apps, then this is a tragedy.  

Technology is not going to go away, and in an economy where traditional roles are harder to find and where there is a weak local market for manufacturing skills, then it is a shortsighted person indeed who does not embrace growth in new and developing markets. So stop the whinge, young people.  Take a deep breath, put your best foot forward, and find a job.  Forget about the money and size of the company.  

Work hard, and do the cruddy work with a smile on your face.  Stop thinking you are entitled to run the company (you're not).  Take advantage of opportunities as they arise.  Create your own opportunities by proving yourself as an employee.  Keep your mouth shut and open your ears.  Treat your coworkers with respect (and I mean everyone, from the guy sweeping the factory floor to the CEO).  Turn up for work every day on time.  Get some runs on the board, because, once you have some, then everything gets much easier.