Education no longer a ‘golden ticket’ to full-time employment

In 2018, twenty five year-olds are more educated than ever before. This should be an assuring statistic, a sign of increased career prospects and opportunities for young people. However, 50% of twenty five year-olds are not in full time work, beckoning the question- are we adequately preparing young people to enter the world of work?

The Foundation for Young Australians  released the New Work Reality report, as part of their New Work Order series, a longitudinal study of 14,000 young people over a decade. The report highlights the uncertainty and challenges faced by young people in the transition period between full time education and full time work.

Navigating the changing world of work

It’s no easy feat in equipping young people with the skills and capabilities to navigate and thrive in a future workforce, especially when educators will be preparing young people for jobs that might not yet exist. More than 60 per cent of current jobs are likely to be disrupted by automation, while technology will open the door to many new jobs.  Megan Lilly from the AI Group says that we also need to rethink what our perception of a traditional job is. A growing gig economy and the rise in entrepreneurship is already shifting our perceptions of work and the sector are needing to get on the front foot of these changes.

Barriers and accelerators to full time employment

The New Work Reality report highlighted the biggest challenges facing young people in their search for full time work; not enough work experience, lack of appropriate education, lack of career management skills and not enough jobs. The report also identified accelerating factors to gaining full time employment; building enterprise skills, relevant paid employment, paid employment in a future focused cluster, an optimist mindset.

Building employability skills and experience into education

Employers and industry are increasingly demanding 21st century and enterprise skills in addition to technical skills. But these skills haven’t always been embedded into education and it’s impacting young people’s ability to enter the workforce. Mary Faraone, CEO of Holmesglen Institute, says that the teaching of these skills in apprenticeship training was missing, calling for a greater focus from vocational education providers to offer opportunities to build these skills through training courses.

In response to these challenges, the Foundation for Young Australians are calling for an overhaul of education, the need to embed work integrated learning into education and a targeted policy to address the mental wellbeing of young people in navigating their career path. As higher educational attainment may no longer guarantee a pathway to full time employment, it depends on a community wide approach and broader shift in thinking and practice to support young people in finding meaningful employment.