One third of Australian youth are unemployed or underemployed. Gone are the days where most new graduates can find secure, meaningful employment. Casual or short-term work is the new norm.
Governments keep slashing funds for TAFES and Universities, making it harder for people already here to get the skills they need. Apprentiships and traineeships have been declining since 2012. Despite this, politicians are telling us that we have a chronic skills shortage and that a large skilled migration program is the only way to fill this shortage.
However, recent migrants and temporary residents have a higher unemployment rate than the Australian born population, and lower labour force participation. Many of the occupations included on the skilled migration scheme, such as accountants and engineers, are in fact in oversupply in Australia.
A recent study found that the job vacancies during one year in Victoria was equal to the number of additional skilled migrants in that year. This means that job vacancies were not keeping up with total population growth. Meanwhile, economic migrants often find themselves in exploitative work conditions and are getting frustrated that they too can’t find work to match their qualifications.
It is essential that Australia does not rely on high population growth targets to try and fill purported skills shortages. Instead, we should adopt stable population policies whilst investing in skills and training that our young people need for a successful future career.