By guest blogger, Peter Luscombe
Reading this headline in The Conversation this morning created a chord of concern. I’m certain the same is true for many. To read such statistics as … “one-third of the unemployed people in Australia are aged 15 to 24” … justifies the need to focus on youth unemployment in a positive and proactive way. How do we skill our youth so they can actualize a career – get a job?
As a former school teacher I’ve seen many students graduate to Tertiary Studies, and move out into the job market , with hope and determination. Ken Henry, an eminent economist and author of the article, makes a telling comment :
‘In many cases, young people’s self-respect and dignity is eroded. This is true for all people who are unemployed, of course. But for those who are young, unemployment can have a permanent impact by impeding the development of their talents and potential. These are essential ingredients for Australia’s youth to be able to make good choices throughout life.’
Even before they have completed their schooling there’s a less than optimistic pathway ahead for some; an increasing number. Without doubt many current students, especially those currently doing Year 12, must wonder if their efforts will bring the results they hope. If not, then the question comes to mind of – What lies ahead for them and how will they navigate these uncertainties?
To speak of ‘our kids as our future’ is equally as true now as it has been in the past. To speak of ‘our kids’ facing as Ken Henry terms it … ‘capability deprivation’ … rings within me bells of alarm. He goes on to say :
‘In essence, what this means is that young people who are not in the education system and who are denied work are deprived of the freedom to lead a life they would choose. They are being denied the capability to participate fully in the activities of their community.’
In my mind, the issues are complex and possible resolutions equally so. Despite this mind-set, I know that skilling people in how to conduct themselves and navigate whatever they face is the best way to have anyone feel enabled to participate, have hope and summon determination.