Are we having the right conversations?

‘Generation Y’ and ‘Millennials’ seem to constantly be a topic of conversation (and accusation) within the 24 hour media cycle of today’s society. The current favourite topics are the lack of hard work and effort from these generations, their expectations and sense of entitlement, or their view to shake the establishment and ruin the structures that have been built over previous decades (by the hard-working generations).


In particular, the main topic in relation to our younger generations relates to housing affordability (note: this is a much larger societal issue not just related to youth – but young first home buyers are central to these discussions, commentary and policies).


But what if we are having the wrong conversation? Have we been focused on the wrong part of this big complex picture?


Before outlining the impact and changes needed to assist housing affordability (especially for first home buyers), we need to assess the step before that – employment. It is the core element of all social, economic and community advancement in this country and can have the greatest impact.  The current environment for youth employment in Australia suggests that this is the key issue of focus and concern for these generations, rather than how many bathrooms they’ll have, where to protest on the weekend or what is trending on social media.


Recently the *Brotherhood of St Lawrence commissioned and released a report detailing the employment situation for Australia’s youth in 2017 (Youth is defined as 15-24 years old).

The report outlined that:

  • Youth unemployment is 13.5% (February 2017)
  • Youth underemployment is 18% – the highest rate in 40 years (Feb 2017)
  • Australian unemployment rate 5.9% (Feb 2017)
  • Youth represent over half of those Australians unemployed


An overview of the report identifies that today’s youth are currently being stalled in their work and career development with record numbers of young people seeking work or more work but unable to find it. The numbers in casual and part time work are also at record levels, creating a generation of insecurity in the workforce.


So what? What does it mean, what can we do?


Well, whilst we are always hearing about issues with younger generations, we are also acknowledging that Australia has a rapidly ageing population, and the fact is these people aren’t going to work forever. The transfer of knowledge and skills in the workforce is fundamental to the advancement of Australian ingenuity and the development of the next generation of nation builders.  Engaging youth in the workplace whilst we still have this knowledge to learn from is vital – the two generations can not only work together but thrive together.


Nudge will continue to advocate and promote the importance of youth employment as well as utilising training as an effective employment method for learning and development. The Nudge service model is designed specifically to provide employers with the support and structure to engage and retain new (often youth) employees and trainees/apprentices.  With a current retention rate of 94% it demonstrates that effective, structured and active support will allow youth to thrive in the modern workplace.


Nudge welcomes the announcement from the incoming WA State Government regarding a stronger focus on local jobs, employment and increased training capacity, to provide effective avenues for the younger generations to source real employment opportunities and begin their career journey – the impact of which will be felt for generations to come.


* The Brotherhood of St Laurence is a community organisation that works to prevent and alleviate poverty across Australia.

Share it on