The sharp fall in the youth unemployment rate in SA from 15.1 per cent in April to 11.8 per cent in May, coupled with strong levels of government support, has employment and training organisations confident the rate can reach levels in the coming months not seen in almost a decade.
Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday show Australia’s unemployment rate for 15-24 year olds fell to 10.3 per cent in May, down from April’s national figure of 10.8 per cent.
Victoria (8.6 per cent), the Northern Territory (9.2 per cent) and the ACT (5.2 per cent) all recorded falls to lead the way while NSW (11.1 per cent) and Queensland (10 per cent) recorded slight increases in youth unemployment.
Tasmania’s youth unemployment rate fell by a full percentage point to 11.6 per cent in May.
Western Australia’s rate increased significantly from 9 per cent in April to 11.8 per cent in May, to be tied with SA as having the highest youth jobless rate in the nation.
Workskil Australia is an Adelaide-headquartered not-for-profit providing range of employment, work experience, disability, youth, Indigenous and community services across New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria.
Chief Executive Officer Nicole Dwyer said South Australia traditionally had a fairly high youth unemployment rate compared with other states, which was also reflected in the overall unemployment rate.
“In terms of the COVID impact on the youth unemployment rate, we see young people are in those tourism and hospitality roles, which is casualised and fairly insecure work so they are the ones who probably fared the worst during the pandemic, not just in South Australia but nationally.
“We’re definitely seeing a very quick rebound in the other states whereas it hasn’t been quite as strong here.
“A lot of people don’t really understand where the job opportunities are at the moment.
“Construction is crying out for people at the moment and there are other industries screaming out for people while different industries are still finding it tough.”
The May youth unemployment figure for South Australia is the lowest since October 2019.
Youth unemployment in the state peaked at 19.4 per cent in January this year and has fallen steadily since.
The number of 15-24 year olds in employment in SA increased from 125,500 to 129,300 in May. Of those, only about 36 per cent had full-time jobs, a sharp fall from the 41 per cent in full-time work in April.
There was also an 1100 person fall in the number of 15-24 year olds enrolled in full-time education to 112,600 from 113,70 in April.
South Australia’s youth unemployment rate has not been under 11 per cent since October 2012.
Dwyer said there was an opportunity to drive South Australia’s youth unemployment rate below 11 per cent in the coming months.
“There’s been a really concerted effort over the past 10 years to connect what schools do around career education, there’s been a whole lot more support around specialised employment programs to help the most disadvantaged young people connect,” she said.
“It’s the best I’ve ever seen it – I’ve been in the industry for 20 years and I’ve never seen this much support for young people – and we’re definitely on the rebound from COVID so while we had a really sharp drop, we’re now seeing a really sharp recovery and we are rebounding very quickly.
“Our challenge is to make sure that young people are not the ones missing out.
“Often while there are more skilled people on the market, the young people who are unskilled and new to the market are the ones who are moved to the back of the line.
“We need to make sure they get to the front of the line and we can get some skills and experience on their resumes.”
Workskil Australia this month partnered with Weld Australia and TAFE SA to run a four-week pilot course in Adelaide to provide basic welding training to long-term unemployed to help them get a start with employers and fill skill shortages.
If successful, the course will be rolled out nationally.
Dwyer said the hands-on course was an example of retraining unemployed youth in areas where there are skill shortages and long-term job opportunities.
“We are doing a lot of these types of programs where we try to be a bit more innovative and rather than offering a full qualification we look at micro-credentials, which are the bare essentials we can give to a young person to make them attractive to employers in a particular industry.
“We know with the shipbuilding coming that there is definitely a shortage of welders at the moment but often young people can’t get their foot in the door because they don’t have the experience and they don’t have the right qualifications.
“This is the first time we have run this type of training course in welding so we are hoping it is something that proves attractive to young people and employers.”
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