YOUTH unemployment rates in Ballarat continue to be higher than the state average, according to Ballarat’s employment experts.
Ballarat Trades and Labour Council president Brett Edgington said April’s state unemployment figure for young people aged 15 to 19 was quoted as 24.2 per cent, but Ballarat’s figure was known to be higher.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the youth unemployment rate in Ballarat was higher than 27 per cent and that’s not including under-employment,” Mr Edgington said.
Yesterday, Ballarat youths Callagun Mann and David Dixon stood at the intersection of Sturt and Lydiard streets holding a large placard reading ‘we want a job’ in a desperate bid to find work.
Mr Mann, who used to work at Australia Post, said he and Mr Dixon had applied for more than 200 jobs since March, but without success.
“It’s a bit embarrassing to be doing this, but we are desperate for a job,” Mr Mann said.
“We’ve handed out multiple resumes and still nothing, so we’d be happy with anything.”
Both men are living with their parents and paying board. Mr Dixon said they were not entitled to Centrelink payments because their parents earned too much.
“We can’t ask our parents for money and they want us to grow up,” Mr Dixon said.
“But there’s nothing going in Ballarat and I think because we’re two young blokes, people aren’t willing to give us a go.”
UnitingCare executive director Cliff Barclay said there were many reasons for low youth employment rates in the region.
“Retailers are really struggling at the moment and we’ve lost some of the bigger factories, plus we have a high youth population so it makes it very competitive for what jobs there are,” he said.
BGT chief executive officer David Edwards also acknowledged the youth unemployment problem in Ballarat.
“There are job opportunities out there, it’s just that those opportunities don’t suit what people are looking for,” he said.
“We have lost a lot of industry in Ballarat that used to create entry-level employment opportunities, so when there are limited opportunities and multiple people going for the one job, it can only mean some people won’t be successful.”
Mr Edwards said young people should not be disheartened, but should continue to actively search for employment in the area.
He said it was important to develop a network of contacts through social media so employers were aware that you were looking for work. “There is a hidden job market and there are jobs, but you have to approach businesses that you actually have an interest in,” he said.
“Present yourself directly to the employers and remember you can never change a first impression.”