Young Tasmanians face employment, education and housing crisis
Tasmania has a lot to offer in terms of lifestyle. But for many young people that call the island home, finding secure and stable employment and meeting basic living costs is a serious challenge.
Tasmania’s youth unemployment rate is 15.1%, which is the highest of any state or territory in Australia. In South East Tasmania, the rate is even higher at 17.8%. In Hobart, youth unemployment sits at 16.9%.
On top of this, many young Tasmanians are underemployed, meaning they have some work but are seeking more hours.
Tasmania, like many other parts of Australia, needs a concerted effort to understand and identify solutions to youth unemployment and underemployment. While there have been some attempts to improve small parts of the puzzle at the State Government level, there is still no clear focus from either major party on youth unemployment and underemployment nationally. As a result, the National Youth Commission (NYC) into Youth Employment and Transitions has taken on this responsibility.
The NYC is a community-led initiative and is an important opportunity to analyse the contributing factors to high levels of youth unemployment in Tasmania in order to identify solutions.
The Commission comes at an important time for Tasmania, particularly because it has become increasingly difficult for young people to access affordable housing.
Housing in Tasmania
A surging housing market in Tasmania over the past couple of years has contributed to many young people feeling the pressure to find secure employment in order to sustain housing.
Hobart has quickly become the least affordable city in Australia. This is partly because Tasmanian household incomes are significantly lower than the national average.
Young Tasmanians on youth allowance looking for a rental property in Hobart would need to spend on average 70% of their income on rent. It is generally accepted in Australia that housing is considered affordable if it does not exceed 30% of household income. That’s a 50% gap in affordability!
In March 2018, the average rent for a house in Hobart increased by 15% (an average of $55 extra per week). This increase is pushing more rental properties out of the grasp of many young people, including those who have managed to gain secure employment.
Where are the jobs?
The healthcare and social assistance industry is the largest contributor to employment in Tasmania.
With an ageing population, demand in the healthcare and social assistance industry is expected to grow with an estimated 4400 more jobs by 2023.
While this may sound positive for young people looking for work, the industry has low levels of pay and over half of its current employees only work part-time.
Young people may have opportunities to gain employment in these industries, but they will likely continue to face challenges with underemployment alongside rising living costs.
While this is one example, it demonstrates the importance of thinking about employment more broadly and the pressures young people face.
The NYC provides a unique opportunity to identify possible solutions that are considerate of the whole journey for young people from education to employment and beyond.
What about education?
Tasmania also has the opportunity to significantly improve education outcomes for young people.
Tasmania has consistently had low retention and completion rates for Year 12. In 2017, the retention rate was 71.2%, the second lowest in the country, behind the Northern Territory. The certification rate was lower again with 61% of Year 12 students obtaining their Tasmanian Certificate of Education (TCE).
There are many factors that contribute to these poor educational engagement and attainment levels including intergenerational disadvantage, homelessness, mental health issues, family breakdown, trauma and low levels of adult literacy.
Improving these statistics will require whole-of-community solutions that address the complex reasons why young Tasmanians are not engaged with education to the same level as their interstate peers.
Navigating youth transitions in Tasmania
Tasmania has challenges in terms of high levels of youth unemployment, low levels of education attainment and rising living costs. But there is hope to create a better future for young Tasmanians, and the NYC is providing an opportunity for the Tasmanian community to come together and identify potential solutions.
It’s a chance for Tasmanians, including young people, to contribute their ideas for how young people can be better supported to navigate the often non-linear transition between education to employment.