City unites to address surging youth unemployment

Article image - City unites to address surging youth unemployment City of Newcastle Undergraduate Engineering Officer Rachael McMurray, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, CEO Port of Newcastle Craig Carmody, City of Newcastle Trainee Civil Project Designer, Nicholas Morgan and Port of Newcastle IT trainee Ryan McNab.

Local organisations are being encouraged to make a commitment to expand opportunities for young people as youth unemployment in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, approaches 20 percent.

The Greater Newcastle Youth Employment Charter is an initiative of the City Taskforce aiming to combat the impact of growing youth unemployment exacerbated by COVID-19 while recognising and celebrating the important role of youth in the community.

City of Newcastle Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes said local organisations could play a key role in supporting young people to find and maintain work as local youth unemployment rate hits 19.8 percent, well above the state’s 13.5 percent.

“The Hunter has a higher proportion of people aged 15-24 years working in the accommodation, food, retail, arts and recreation services than many other parts of Australia. These industries have been hardest hit by COVID-19.

“Consequently, COVID-19 has had a significant and disproportionate impact on young people, so collectively we must act.”

Organisations across the region are encouraged to make five commitments regarding youth employment, youth training, youth voice, youth support and youth celebration.

Several organisations have already pledged to prioritise professional development opportunities for young people, establish structured mentoring programs, ensure youth are represented in decision-making processes and expand trainee, apprenticeship and graduate positions.

Port of Newcastle CEO, Craig Carmody said it was important that the region’s businesses made a commitment to creating opportunities for young people.

“These are challenging times and our youth need opportunities to build technical skills and knowledge so they can contribute to the region’s economic recovery and long-term prosperity. 

“Port of Newcastle is already working to play its part today, through initiatives like our Indigenous STEM scholarship, while also pursuing plans to grow and diversify in order to create many more direct and indirect employment opportunities for future generations.

“Our vision is that youth trained in science and technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines can look forward to local, highly technical roles requiring years of training and attracting higher wages – these roles could be working directly at the new Multi-purpose Deepwater Terminal or in any of the many associated businesses and operators spawned from its operation.”

The University of Newcastle Hunter Research Foundation’s Lead Economist, Dr Anthea Bill, who provides local employment research insights to the City Taskforce, said COVID-19 had caused disruption at a vulnerable time for young people as they transition between education and work.

“Young people are more vulnerable in the labour market because they have shorter work histories and less acquired skills and qualifications. 

“They are also more likely to work in jobs which are casual and therefore more likely to have hours cut when an economic downturn hits.

“That is what makes affirmative action like the Youth Unemployment Charter all the more crucial.”