The latest release in The Foundation for Young Australians’ (FYA) New Work Order report series, The New Work Reality, focuses on how the world of work has and is changing over time. Technological advancements and new global trends have combined to mould a workforce that is reflective of our ever-evolving economy.
Reports such as the FYA series have important implications for the current generation of young Australians, as it examines their career prospects in the current labour market. The New Work Reality notes that a large proportion of young people feel like they aren’t going anywhere in their current role, and are struggling to carve out meaningful career paths. What can the FYA’s latest report tell us about these perceptions and the other key findings that define this New Work Reality?
The transition from education to full-time work is taking longer
In 1986, the transition from school to full-time labour generally took one year; today, this transition can take an average of 2.6 years to fully materialise. When considering gap years and returns to further study, this gap inflates to up to five years. The FYA report recognises that education has traditionally been the ‘golden ticket’ to full-time employment, but this becoming further from the truth in the modern labour market.
The way young Australians work full-time hours has changed
Full-time hours have typically been achieved through one permanent source of employment, yet today’s young Australians are completing a 38-hour working week across multiple casual jobs. While casual employment is often accompanied with better hourly pay and greater working flexibility than permanent work, it lacks the job security and employee benefits that come with permanent part-time and full-time work. The number of 25 year olds in Australia working full-time has decreased over the past decade, while there has been a spike in the underutilisation of Australians between the ages of 15 and 24 years old – 30 per cent of this age cohort want to work more hours but simply aren’t being given them.
There are four main barriers holding young people back
The New Work Reality identified four key factors that are preventing young Australians from entering the full-time workforce. They include lack of work experience, with 75 per cent of survey respondents believing they do not have the required vocational practice to gain full-time work; lack of relevant education, as half expressed they don’t have the skills required for full-time employment; lack of career management skills, with 25 per cent of participants believing their interview and application skills are not adequate enough to help them secure full-time work; and lastly, lack of job availability as seven in 10 respondents stressed that there were an insufficient number of full-time jobs available to them.
Young people can accelerate their transition to full-time work
FYA identified four key steps that young Australians can take to improve their chances of securing full-time employment after graduation. Possessing enterprise skills, such as problem solving, communication and team work, can help to facilitate a transition to full-time work, especially if these skills are taught through a course of study. Having a record of relevant paid employment is also useful in gaining full-time work, and can be achieved through combining study with work in an occupation that falls within a related job cluster. The report suggests that choosing career clusters that are projected to experience strong employment growth in the future is helpful in accelerating the transition, as is maintaining a positive outlook about career prospects and the opportunities that young Australians believe are available to them.
Are we equipping young people with the right skills?
The New Work Reality highlights a need to redesign the learning pathways that allow graduates to transition from school to work. Young Australians need to have the skills and also the confidence to navigate the modern world of work and find meaningful employment in a relevant career. The report provides a number of solutions, including expanding the availability of career management advice to students, publishing enterprise skill information in tertiary course descriptions and facilitating stronger work integrated learning links between education providers and businesses and corporations.