Youth unemployment in Australia now stands at around 18%, over three times higher than the general unemployment rate. Some areas have youth unemployment rates of well over 30%!
One of the reasons youth unemployment has risen is due to job losses in the retail sector, one of the main employers of young people.
By employing young workers as casuals on youth wages, then sacking them when sales dip, the retail industry has increased its profits by 67.4 per cent over the last 5 years, even while consumer spending has been down!
Not yet satisfied, the National Retail Association is proposing reducing the retail minimum wage by 10%, scrapping penalty rates for nights and Saturdays, reducing penalty rates on Sundays and cutting the minimum shift to one hour!
This push by big business is obviously not good for young people. It is also not good for the economy because poor retail sales reflect the financial stress many people are feeling due to the rising cost of living. These problems will only worsen with the introduction of further job insecurity and wage reductions, as people become less willing and less able to s
pend money on consumer goods. This will only lead to further job losses and create more problems in the economy.
One of the reasons bosses see young workers as easy targets is because only around 1 in 10 workers under 25 years old are members of their trade union. The situation will only improve when young workers get organised!
Another problem that contributes to youth unemployment is difficulty in getting the right training. It is getting harder to find employers willing to take on an apprentice or someone who requires training.
The problem is that the choice whether or not to train young workers is made by private businesses. They decide whether or not to train workers on the basis of whether or not it is profitable.
On the basis of publically owned industries, such as transport, manufacturing, utilities, mining and construction, we could begin to provide proper job training. These public assets could be used to train young workers in socially necessary skills and provide them with jobs to ensure the quality of public services and infrastructure into the future.