Coffs Harbour-Grafton labelled youth unemployment hotspot
THE Coffs Harbour-Grafton region has been labelled a youth unemployment hotspot by national anti-poverty group Brotherhood of St Laurence, and with more than 20 per cent of young people in the labour force unemployed it is the second worst area for youth unemployment in Australia.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data revealed a 23.3 per cent youth unemployment in the Coffs Harbour-Grafton region, the highest in NSW and second in the nation behind outback Queensland.
The Brotherhood's disturbing analysis of the ABS data found that across Australia the youth unemployment rate is stagnating at the levels seen in the early 2000s, despite 28 years of economic growth.
The 11.2 per cent national youth unemployment rate is more than twice Australia's overall unemployment rate (five per cent), at December 2018, and almost three times the unemployment rate of those aged 25 and over.
Across Australia, this translates to a quarter of a million young people who are still unemployed.
The Brotherhood's executive director Conny Lenneberg said policymakers need to give Australia's young people a fair go.
"Young people come out of education and training with high hopes and aspirations for independence. It's devastating that despite 28 years of continuous economic growth, too many young Australians are locked out of the prosperity dividend," Ms Lenneberg said.
The report maps the 20 worst "hotspot" regions for youth unemployment across Australia - including the Coffs Harbour-Grafton region and the New England and North West region in NSW - and confirms many regional and outer suburban areas bear the heaviest burden.
"These figures belie stereotypes about young people. We know from our research and the experience of our services that many young people are doing it tough," she said.
"Yet young people are too often depicted in simplistic terms of consumers of overpriced smashed-avocado toast with a fascination for selfies, and that's plain wrong."
The Brotherhood's report says young Australians are moving into adulthood while the nation is also navigating a period of testing social and economic change due to the interconnected challenges posed by globalisation, technology, climate change and demographic change.
"We remain especially concerned at how young people without qualifications and skills or family networks are tracking in this rapidly changing economic and social environment," Ms Lenneberg said.
"To secure the future labour force and create opportunities for decent work, we need structural solutions that drill down to local job markets and infrastructure challenges."
"We also know from our practical experience that all young jobseekers in Australia need to have access to a specialist youth employment service, a one-stop-shop dedicated to their needs, whereas currently we still have a fragmented response to employment services for young people."
Read the full report online here.