By Guest Blogger, Peter Luscombe

In the past I’ve spoken about the difficulties faced by our school-leavers and unemployed youth. In our current climate getting a job is difficult; especially when you’re fresh out of school or have unsuccessfully been looking for work. Being skilled and ready to job search requires a lot of an individual; especially summoning the resiliency and determination to keep trying. It was with interest therefore, that I noted recent comment in an article in – ‘The Conversation’ – citing the Foundation for Young Australians’ report – How Young People Are Faring 2013.

The Budget has been passed down. I’ve held back comment until the dust settled. Personally, I’m dismayed by the unsympathetic measures handed out in regard to our unemployed youth. I also am baffled by seeming contradictions.

For instance, those under 30 will have to wait six-months before they can access any financial benefit or support in any form, however, they must be actively seeking work or else face possible, further delays. The obvious questions that spring to mind are– How do you finance your effort to get a job? Where’s the money coming from when you’re fresh out of school or been unemployed for a bit?

Furthermore, during that six-months period it’s expected an individual apply for 40 positions each month. That’s a condition to qualify for benefits or else face possible, further delays. Immediately a bevy of questions and concerns spring to mind. Predominant on my mind is  – Are there that many jobs on the market; especially for those fresh out of school or our unemployed youth?

The current job market is highly, if not fiercely competitive. Employers receive numerous applications they sort through to interview stage, then hold a number of interviews before a decision is made. Many fall by the way-side and don’t get to interview stage, then even more fall away at the final hurdle. The challenge then is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, then continue on. That’s the ideal, right? In my mind, that raises the question – How does say an 18 year old fresh out of school find the ‘guts,’ because that’s at heart what we’re talking about, to pick themselves up and continue on?

As the article says:

… [It’s] … largely accepted that it is up to the individual young person (and their family) to invest in education and learn how to navigate increasingly insecure labour markets. This works for some, but the evidence shows that for an increasing minority it is very difficult to work out what kind of education or training will be best and how to make this work in volatile labour markets. In other words, it’s already difficult for young people to get it right.

How Young People Are Faring 2013 – provides some interesting statistics  including –

 Three quarters (75%) of teenagers and just under one third (32%) of young adults are in full-time education.

This signals an increase over time of young people participating in education and training.

80% of students who commenced secondary school in 2007 have stayed in school to Year 12, compared to 75% four years earlier. Young women are more likely than young men to remain at school until Year 12.

The ‘push’ to complete Year 12 means ‘kids’ must complete their education in the light of employer expectations, family expectations and suitability for the job market overall.

However, the outlook is also dim for some. According to the report:

Extended periods of poverty, unemployment, lack of access to meaningful and purposeful education or training and insecure work for 18- to 25-year olds robs them of the building blocks to make productive lives. The momentum lost during these crucial years is very difficult to recover.

In many ways, going for a job is a test of character.

How hard should this test be though?

Are the new measures handed out a reasonable and fair series of hurdles?

Are we setting our school-leavers up for success, or for failure?

Personally, if I was about to complete Year 12, or had just lost my job, I’d find these measures daunting. I’d be wondering how well prepared I am for the test ahead, whether I have the resources and fully aware that the outcomes are uncertain as I would be just one among many.