For at least the past century, Australia’s promise to our young people has been that education is their ‘golden-ticket’ to a full-time job. That promise is now at risk.

So begins the forward to the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) 2018 report ‘The New Work Reality’. It’s nothing we are unaware of, and it sounds stark, but the report is not all gloomy. It offers a way forward that can be taken up by educators, policy-makers and young Australians making the transition from school into the workplace.

‘The New Work Reality’ is the sixth instalment of FYA’s ‘New Work Order’ series, which highlights the impact of global trends and technological on Australia’s work/life landscape. The report follows the work journey of 14 000 young Australians over a ten year period from ages 15 to 25, recording their thoughts and perceptions along the way.

Just what is the new work reality?

The nature of work and the types of skills that are needed have dramatically changed over the last decade with part-time, casual and contract work replacing many secure, full-time positions. Full-time jobs are increasingly hard to find. Although young Australians are better educated than previous generations, many 18-24 year-olds reported that they lack confidence about their working future.

Let’s take a look at some of the figures that have been gleaned from the report.

A few facts
  • 60% of 25 year-olds hold a post-school qualification
  • 50% of 25 year-olds are not working full-time (35+ hours per week)
  • 18% work full-time hours by juggling multiple jobs

Of the 50% of 25 year-olds not employed full-time:

  • 25% are employed part-time (including those studying)
  • 10% are studying and not working
  • 15% are not working or studying
Barriers to full-time work

The young people identified a number of barriers to gaining full-time work.

  • Not enough practical work experience
  • Lack of appropriate education
  • Lack of the necessary career management skills
  • Not enough jobs
What is the golden ticket to full-time employment?

Let’s face it – there’s no such thing as a golden ticket to anything; but by identifying the barriers to full-time employment, the report outlines the types of activities that will help young Australians more successfully transition from full-time education. These are:

  • Building enterprise skills in education
  • 5 000 hours of relevant paid employment while studying
  • Paid employment in a future-focussed cluster
  • An optimistic mindset
Building enterprise skills in education

An education that builds enterprise skills is one of the key factors to young Australians successfully gaining employment. (Well, that and the work experience, job availability and optimistic, go get’em attitude planets coming into alignment.)

Enterprise skills are the transferrable skills such as problem- solving, communication, teamwork and creativity. They’re the skills that are developed through different learning environments from pre-school to post education, volunteering, and sporting and community activities.

These skills are honed and demonstrated in work placement, and indeed any work setting. They are not only a valuable tool to prizing open the door to employment, but also to giving our students the confidence they need to put themselves forward time and again.

Building up hours in paid employment along the way

Relevant paid employment in an internship or part-time job serves to compliment formal study, as well as help to build the broader set of skills and capabilities employers seek – that includes valuable career management skills. Paid employment in a future focussed cluster will almost guarantee long-term employment in a growth industry.

Future focussed clusters are those in growth that are not negatively affected by automation. (Take a look at our ‘Dream Clusters’ article.)

  • Technologists
  • Carers
  • Informers
An optimistic mindset

A young person with an optimistic, yet realistic mindset has the prospect of gaining work faster than one who is not happy about their work future. Supporting our students in this time of growth as they build their portfolio of skills will make the transition from education to employment a little easier.

A faster entry for young Australians into full-time work is a joint effort

We’re on our way, but there is so much more to be done and the golden ticket will only be worth its weight with the combined commitment of education, family and community, industry and sensible government policy – and of course, the effort of students themselves.

It’s worth looking over this full and extensive report on the FYA website.

The WORK SKILLS and ENTRENEPRENEURSHIP modules in Work-Ready have activities and information that will assist your students to build the skills, attitudes and confidence that will break down the barriers to full-time employment.

The WORKPLACE and UNDERSTANDING WORK modules have information on finding, applying and preparing for different types of work placement and work experience.