Young people are not thriving but just doing “okay” when transitioning from school to work, and it is costing the community, says youth and careers platform Skillsroad.
The national Skillsroad 2017 Youth Census, commissioned by Apprenticeship Support Australia, linked the average levels of wellbeing of people aged 15-24 to high job turnover, the national skills shortage, and increasing university and vocational dropout rates.
ASA managing director Darren Cocks said positive, un-biased and comprehensive career conversations needed to happen earlier and present young people with all the options to ensure they chose the career path that best suited them.
“We need to enable young people to make informed career choices by making a greater investment in educating students on all career pathways, their suitability to these, and how and where to pursue them to improve productivity and reduce employee turnover,” he said.
But UnitingCare Ballarat executive officer Sean Duffy said there also needed to be more opportunities in Ballarat for young people who did not want to go onto higher education.
He said the period between leaving school and entering the workforce was full of “significant pressures”, not only in the form of studying, training and job hunting, but learning to navigate new challenges such as living out of home, putting food on the table and accessing health care.
It also came at a time when people were most at risk of developing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
“Some young people have to leave home early or transition from where they were living, and we have a significant issue with young people who are couch surfing and don’t have stable accommodation,” Mr Duffy said.
“For a lot of young people, the manifestation of anxiety comes in many different forms... and some of that leads to drug and alcohol use or high risk-taking behaviour.”
A lot of young people accessing UnitingCare Ballarat’s services, who had dropped out of school or university, were facing problems such as unemployment, drug use and homelessness.
“It could be that their self-esteem is affected or they become bored,” Mr Duffy said.
“I think boredom is a significant issue in terms of young people then seeking ways to entertain themselves and engage in other social networks.”
At the moment the young person has to fit in with the system rather than the system working for them.UnitingCare Ballarat executive officer Sean Duffy
Alternatively, study, training and employment offered young people a sense of purpose, interaction with like-minded people, goals, and structure and routine.
Mr Duffy said while the system was improving, it had a long way to go to be truly youth centric.
“We need to tailor individual training and education pathways for young people, because most young people are different in terms of where they are developmentally, their maturity, and the age in which they leave school,” he said.
“At the moment the young person has to fit in with the system rather than the system working for them.”
His advice to young people was to set small to medium term goals, focus career aspirations on strengths and passions, and do not be afraid to seek career counselling or speak to services such as headspace or UnitingCare Ballarat.