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Skills mismatch leaves young workers stranded

Jan Owen wants to see an overhaul of education and training programs.

Jan Owen wants to see an overhaul of education and training programs.

“To get to where we need by 2030, and avoid the economic and social crisis that is looming, we need a strong framework that delivers systemic change and that is based on evidence,” she said. “Without an integrated approach we are likely to end up with even greater problems, with employers, education and training providers, workers and the national economy all losers.”

Despite the national unemployment rate sitting at 5 per cent, there continues to be a high level of youth unemployment in key parts of the country.

The hardest-hit have been areas that enjoyed the mining boom last decade before it came to a halt.

The foundation found youth unemployment increased by more than 8 percentage points in the Queensland marginal seats of Forde,  Flynn, Petrie and Dawson. Similarly large increases were found in the WA marginal seats of Pearce and Hasluck.

All are held by the government. The single largest increase was in the Labor-held marginal West Australian electorate of Cowan, at 12 percentage points.

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

There have been signs of improvement, particularly in NSW and Victoria, which enjoy the strongest job markets in the country.

The report notes the economic wellbeing of areas with large numbers of unemployed young people could be improved with a concerted effort to lift skills and find more employment opportunities.

In the seat of Forde, aligning the youth unemployment rate with the broader jobless rate would see a $47.9 million-a-year increase in community earnings.

The foundation, which is calling for a national future skills symposium in March, estimates at least 880,000 young people will need “significant” re-skilling between now and 2030.

At least half the tasks they currently undertake are expected to change or disappear.

Ms Owen said an overhaul of education and training, which included technical skills and career management abilities, was vital if young Australians were to adapt to a jobs market that would continue to change.

“We must transform our approach to learning so that current and future workers have the skills employers need and the cultural competencies required to thrive,” she said.

Shane is a senior economics correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Max is a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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