Youth jobless rate falls but LLEN chief says statistics misleading

BALLARAT’S youth unemployment has bucked state trends and dropped 7 per cent over the past year. 

Ballarat’s youth unemployment rate has dropped over the past year, according to statistics.

Ballarat’s youth unemployment rate has dropped over the past year, according to statistics.

The Ballarat region’s unemployment rate was at 15.8 per cent in July 2013 but has dropped to only 8.8 per cent in July 2014, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show. 

The state’s overall youth unemployment rate jumped by 1.5 per cent. 

Highlands Local Learning and Employment Network executive officer Jannine Bennett said although the figures were positive, it was misleading. 

She said there was a lot of part-time work, which made the youth underemployed rather than unemployed. 

“It’s quite confusing,” Ms Bennett said. “On the ground it doesn’t feel like we have a low youth unemployment rate.”

She said Ballarat had a population of about 14,500 people between 15 and 24 years old, which meant about 1200 people in that bracket were still out of a job. 

“It is progress that more youth are in work, but it’s not good if they’re just in part-time work,” Ms Bennett said. 

Highlands LLEN runs a website which collates job advertisements aimed at young people.

Ms Bennett said there were usually about 70 jobs on the site, which was not enough for a population of 1200 looking for work. 

Ballarat had the highest reduction, with other areas – including Melbourne’s west, Bendigo, Hume and Gippsland – seeing reductions of less than three per cent. 

Warrnambool and the south west rose 3.8 per cent to have the biggest youth unemployment rate in the state at 18 per cent.  Geelong and Melbourne’s north west were not far behind, with rates of about 17 per cent. 

The data was analysed by welfare group Brotherhood of St Laurence. 

Welfare group executive director Tony Nicholson said behind the statistics were the human stories of the increasing number of young people who were missing out on job experience, a chance to build skills, confidence and of course earnings – all of which would help them establish independent lives.

“Policy-makers have been sitting on their hands for decades and failed, as our support for young people is not keeping pace with changes to our economy in which unskilled and semi-skilled jobs have declined and employers expect to recruit fully trained and experienced workers,” Mr Nicholson said. “The experience of our programs and our research is that young people are eager to work, and need support and guidance to enter a labour market when it’s far harder to gain a foothold.

“We know that the damaging impact on these young people, including a lack of sense of self-worth, is likely to continue for years to come.” 

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