Macroeconomist David Rumbens
Macroeconomist David Rumbens

So how do we fix Sunshine Coast's 18% youth jobless rate?

THE Sunshine Coast has long had one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the Australia.

And the figures show young people are leaving the region in droves to find work  - or pursue further study.

So how do we, as a region, develop new industries and opportunities to secure a future for them here?

That will be the focus of a forum next week which is expected to attract more than 100 local employers, dignitaries and community leaders - together with young people themselves.

The forum is being hosted by the Sunshine Coast Business Council.

Chair Sandy Zubrinich said with the region's youth unemployment rate almost three times higher than the Sunshine Coast's overall unemployment rate, action needed to be taken.

"The Sunshine Coast is currently experiencing a youth unemployment rate of between 17 and 18 per cent, which is particularly alarming when you consider the region's overall unemployment rate sits at around 6.7 per cent," Ms Zubrinich said.

"This unfortunately has a range of negative social, heath and economic impacts on the local community, with research showing that unemployed young people living on the Sunshine Coast experience higher rates of depression, anxiety and self-harming behaviours."

"It is also apparent that of those youth who are neither employed nor studying, 37 per cent are living below the poverty line."

Ms Zubrinich said the statistics painted a worrying picture for the Sunshine Coast community, and she called on local business owners and government officials to join in discussions aimed at reversing the trend of high youth unemployment.

"There's no doubt that the construction, retail and tourism industries have faced some challenging times in recent years, so it's understandable that employment opportunities have been limited," Ms Zubrinich said.

"As our economy strengthens once again, it's crucial that the government and business sectors band together to tackle this issue head-on."

Ms Zubrinich said the Youth Prosperity Forum was set to include presentations from a wide range of researchers and industry leaders in championing youth support initiatives, including keynote speaker and macroeconomist David Rumbens.

"Mr Rumbens will identify growth areas for the Sunshine Coast and outline how the local community can best position itself and our young people to ride the wave of success," Ms Zubrinch said.

"Event attendees will also learn more about the changing face of the labour market for youths and the benefits of employing young people."

Guest speakers include Kylee Bates from Mission Australia, Ivan Neville and Kris McCue from the Department of Employment, Paul Moreton from Integrated Family & Youth Service and Jody Tunnicliffe from the St Vincent de Paul Society.

The Sunshine Coast Business Council Youth Prosperity Forum will be held between 1.00pm and 6.30pm on Tuesday, 12 November at the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast.

Tickets cost $20 for Sunshine Coast Business Council members and $25 for non-members. Entry is free for those aged 25 and under.

For more information, please visit www.scbusinesscouncil.com.au or call (07) 5444 3909.



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