Per Capita think tank wants youth jobs guarantee

With Australia’s youth hardest hit by the COVID-19 lockdown:

Progressive think tank, Per Capita, has urged the government to introduce a jobs guarantee:

Australian labour force data for May shows that, for the first time since the Great Depression, almost two in three young workers do not have enough work to meet their needs…

Well before this crisis took hold, employment conditions for young people in Australia were grim. Young workers are by far the most likely to suffer from insecure work, with low wages and unstable hours.

While, to some extent, the transition from school to work has long been defined by insecurity, young people today remain in insecure and underpaid work much longer than did their parents and grandparents, and the problem has intensified significantly in the decade since the Global Financial Crisis.

More than half of workers aged 15-24 are now employed through casual contracts, while in 2018 almost 40% of workers aged 25-34 were in a casual, fixed term or part-time job. This has a pernicious effect on their ability to build careers and establish the economic security that is needed to achieve the standard of living Australians have come to expect over generations.

At the same time, many young people are saddled with debt for their education, the repayment of which is no longer linked to the income premiums afforded by higher qualifications…

As Australia is faced with the worst labour market conditions in almost a century, it is critical that the futures of our young people are not compromised by inadequate or counter-productive policy responses.

This paper argues for a bold new approach to tackling youth unemployment and insecure work. Policy reform in the areas of employment services, education and training, active labour market programs, social procurement, apprenticeships and graduate employment programs, and private sector training levies are needed to address what has become a wicked problem for young workers in Australia.

We must think beyond providing entry-level, minimum wage jobs to cut youth unemployment numbers, and implement a comprehensive suite of policies to create a genuine Youth Guarantee, under which young Australians are supported to achieve their full potential, and to realise the promise of Australia that has been afforded to previous generations…

Per Capita argues that through the implementation of a Youth Guarantee (Jackson, 2020), which offers every young person under 25 a place in employment, education or training, Australia can establish a strong foundation upon which full employment can be built. Crucially, the Youth Guarantee offers both supply and demand side solutions, built around a core suite of active labour market policies (ALMP). If implemented, this policy agenda has real potential to smooth the youth labour market, increase government revenue, and provide stable, safe and secure transitions for young workers in an increasingly crisis prone economy…

A Youth Guarantee is characterised by four key pillars that distinguish it from other types of youth labour market intervention. These are:

1. Publicly funded post-secondary education and training systems;
2. Study and training allowances that provide a living wage;
3. Increased demand for entry level positions; and
4. Employment services that direct young workers towards skills shortages.

These four pillars provide a basis upon which to design policy that ensures every young person under the age of 25, and every recently graduated person under the age of 30, is offered either a place in employment, education or training no later than three months after registering as unemployed…

As the Australian Government looks to invest in major projects to help stimulate the economy, it must also address the ‘hollowing out’ of the labour market and arrest the decline in intermediate or technical skills across our economy. A recent review of the skills profiles of the OECD has found Australia is ranked (Macklin, 2020, p. 17).:

• 8th in the proportion of workers with high skills (tertiary education above Certificate III) (46%);
• 29th in the proportion of workers with intermediate skills (Year 12 completion to Certificate III) (36%); and
• 16th in the proportion of workers with low skills (did not complete Year 12) (18%).

This low ranking for the intermediately skilled workforce points to the need for investment in the vocational education and training (VET) industry, to ensure that our domestic capabilities are in equilibrium with our economic needs…

Australia has the largest cohort of law graduates in our history, yet we have nationwide skill shortages in midwifery, automotive trades and welding (Challice et al., 2019; Department of Jobs and Small Business, 2019c, 2019a, 2019b). Young workers need employment services that are designed to assist them in finding sustainable careers in areas with labour market shortages.

Full report here.

Leith van Onselen


  1. More government spending is the solution to everything in Australia. Maybe this think tank should lead a campaign that would get young people to vote in their interests.

        • Adroit … maybe you should stop trying to think for others or forcing them in your eyes through rational agent model like expectations.

          BTW OJT used to be the norm for all kinds of work until the corporatist and their rational agent buddies fobbed it off on to pay to play skin in the game credential mills full of fraud. Punch line is then these same malefactors then have the cheek to say they can’t get good employees any more and we have too import them … rim shot …

          Who’s bent again – ????

          • I’m not forcing anything, not that sorts like you knee jerk at everything regardless. Just pointing out a bit of history and how it refutes your premise and more so the mess it has created. Now you wobble on about government considering a solution to a market failure, yet call others bent.

          • You are the lone voice in the wilderness – and an unfortunately purposefully obtuse one.

    • Aus can’t afford to guarantee let alone give jobs to young, Sure Gahaddafi did from oil profits, if graduate and no job available then paid peer average for your skill trade or profession. Get married, then home and free car. Free education….literacy went from nothing much to 95%…. Remember Whitlam? Sorted out train gauge issue, roads, hospitals Medicare, decent school curricula.There is a lot Aus could re fund CSIRO to roll out great innovation to employ Aus, not sell it cheap overseas, set up Aus bank owned by nation to fund infrastructure and innovation. Fund csiro developed projects, Stop immigration. Stop the foreign student rort, We can’t afford further educational disadvantage to Aus, Stop immigration right now. Let it sort out we have not digested the unsustainable numbers we have onboard now,

  2. This has been the German model for over 50 years. No doubt has something to do with their successful manufacturing and export industry.

    Back in Straya the 70’s there was no job insecurity among school leavers and very few young people accessed unemployment benefits – no need for it..

    • The number of older (55 years plus) guys in my engineering field that were BHP apprentices (etc) is staggering.

      I’m 39. I was lucky to get any mentoring at all once I graduated chemical engineering; what I got was good, but sparse – I taught myself basically everything I know, through many, many hours of study and plant experience; and have taken pains to give young people some work experience (which has tremendously boosted their careers beyond their peers!).

      Younger people today really do have it harder than Boomers in many ways.

      • boomengineeringMEMBER

        I was a BHP apprentice while studying for marine engineering, so can relate to what you say, but a lot of young generation don’t want to get dirty so they study I.T. instead. The danger with that it results in an over supply of IT and an under supply of metal trades. Compounding this problem is that a lot of IT can be outsourced overseas whereas the metal trades except for finished products need onshore hands. I do wonder if they did oversupply metal trades would it be a case of (build it and they would come) meaning idle hands may find a return to some kind of manufacturing?
        Many younger people today really do have it harder than boomers today by choice

    • Germany had a shrinking population from 1994 to 2015. Japan has it now.

      We have a manic immigration rate. A jobs guarantee here will only employ foreigners (just look at the NBN). We need a UBI instead.

  3. What is this ‘per capita’ thinking nonsense?

    Don’t they know that only the aggregate country entity matters, and not necessarily any individual in the country?!

    GDP to the moon! Screw how much anyone gets.

    Madness 😉

    • boomengineeringMEMBER

      Per capita was lucrative in my first year app, $6 per week. Without sponging off my sister, untenable.
      Now just waiting for the jet engines to ramp up.

    • But if we stop immigration then the economy will shrink!! /s

      Of course that is the one of the answers. There are plethora of options that would all do better than the status quo.

  4. National Service.

    If you are a pacifist you get to work in Immigration Detention centres or something else; maybe some sort of “Peace Corp / Ausaid thing where you work in the Pacific for 1 year after university. But get everyone to do 12 months service – it’s like an extra gap year but in Townsville or Darwin.

      • Also builds a more harmonious society and gets all different types experiencing each other. Too many folks now exist in bubbles.

        I live in a bubble, I know that. But my hobbies and interests see me getting back to rural / regional areas where I grew up and it is good to interact with a cross section of society to better understand each other.

        • Agree. Some years ago a nephew schooled at a Sydney private boarding school, when he finished went jackarooing up the top end for a year, mixing with all ages and personalities. Said it was the best year of his life.

    • Bugger that, the ultimate neo left crap, if you and yours are into global warming and social guilt then do it, don’t expect the rest of us to do so. I would send my offspring overseas to avoid that. Gap Year? What sort of controlling predator idea is that? And how would that do anything for a stem future student?
      Some West australians used to have gap year because they finished at 17. A really sane system, entered secondary at year 8, compared with the rest of Aus, but of course now stopped. I know a boy who spent the year on in-line skates with his two friends,his crew, parents research doctorates which was his future, Changed his mind hugely for the better, faster more dimensions brilliant we left perth or my genius son would have done the same,if we had not moved to the dark city land of the dinosaurs Melbourne.
      In my case I regret always that I did not spend a couple of years as a Slazengers tennis player doing the country tennis championships circuit, playing the Davis cup squad…my mothers mixed doubles partner was in that, I partnered her as teenage A grade in competitions.Was not considered then and I fell in line.

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