by CareerActually contributor, Peter Luscombe


Earlier this year, I addressed the topic of youth unemployment. The series of posts particularly considered the hardships faced by the youth of today in the job market and in light of government policy. At a time when our youth await their Year 12 results and the outcome of their University course selection, Mission Australia’s 2014 Youth Survey, sheds further light on this important topic.

In response to the survey question: What are your aspirations? 87% of the 15-19 year olds surveyed said they aspired for career success. Yes, contrary to negative community opinion and harsh government measures, most young people place a significant and important priority on getting a job and doing well in their career.

However,  the survey also revealed our youth acknowledge the gritty face of reality. With 60% of those surveyed saying that such an aspiration was not very likely to be achieved  and that even if they were to get a job then career success would not necessarily follow. The – if – looms large. Youth unemployment remains high and available jobs on the market low. In the words of Mission Australia’s chief executive, Catherine Yeomans:

When we were younger I think there were more entry-level jobs for young people. Young people may have been able to join a workplace, and get the experience they need for their career.

We simply don’t have as many entry-level jobs for young people as we did in the past.

In interviews with the ABC several young people commented that the survey results rung true to them. One 15 year old said:

Having your own home and space, being able to afford it, having a job, having your life sorted out – it’s important to me.

And further, I can’t but feel admiration for such aspirations and comments of resiliency such as:

You’ve just got to work hard to get what you want, really.

To succeed in life you can’t just always be negative about things. You’ve got to look on the positive side.

Here is a brief run-down of some of Mission Australia’s findings from the survey of 15-19 year olds:

  • Around 80% of young people ranked education and hard work as the top two factors they believe will influence their career opportunities in the future
  • Almost 50% of young people believe where they live will affect the career opportunities available
  • More than 1 in 3 young people aged 15-19 are currently looking for work (including part-time/casual)
  • More than 70 per cent of young people ranked owning their own home as a key aspiration, and most felt this was also achievable despite falling rates of home ownership in Australia.
  • Only 54% of males plan to go to university, compared with more than 70% of females
  • 1 in 5 young people indicated strong concerns about family conflict and depression, while concern about mental health, alcohol and drugs has continued to rise for the past two years.

As Catherine Yeomans says:

With our nation continuing to grapple with high youth unemployment rates, significant structural changes in the labour market, a lack of affordable housing options, and as our higher education system faces potentially costly reforms for students, there has never been a more important time to consider the concerns and aspirations of Australian youth.