Youth unemployment rates continue to rise

UNEMPLOYMENT ON THE RISE: The Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven have the second highest youth unemployment rates in Australia. Photo: Steven Siewert

UNEMPLOYMENT ON THE RISE: The Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven have the second highest youth unemployment rates in Australia. Photo: Steven Siewert

Youth unemployment in the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven is the second highest in the country, according to the Department of Employment. 

More than 25 per cent of the region’s youth are unemployed, according to statistics released by the Labour Market Information portal. 

These show unemployed youth figures rose from 23.7 per cent to 25.4 per cent in the 12 months to May 2017. 

This is compared to the national average of 12.7 per cent. 

The latest figures also show the work participation rate for people older than 15 has dropped to 44.5 per cent, well below the national average of 72.8 per cent. 

The data shows there are 81,400 people aged 15 to 64 working in the area – 9700 of those work in health care and social assistance. 

Construction is the second highest employer, with 6900 people working in the field. 

There are 4700 people working in hospitality and accommodation services, and 4800 in retail.

While the statistics cover the broader region, steps are being taken to reduce youth unemployment in the Southern Highlands.

Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell has urged Highlands unemployed youth to take part in a new program that aims to help young people to secure training, overcome employment barriers and secure lasting jobs.

“The Youth Employment Program is being delivered to target and reduce high youth unemployment areas of need,” Mr Rowell said. 

“This program will help young people who are not already registered with Commonwealth employment programs and who are not in work or are underemployed.”

The program will be on offer to eligible people in the Southern Highlands aged 15-24. 

Employment service providers will design tailored support plans for Highlands youth to focus on life skills, accommodation and transport, training, and health and wellbeing. 

They will also consider the needs of the local labour market.

“The Youth Employment Program will be supported by employers and organisations to connect young people with training and jobs,” Mr Rowell said.

“Training, mentoring and work experience placements will help young people build their skills and experience to secure lasting employment.”