The young Australians trapped in the coronavirus economy's dire job market

Many young university graduates have been stuck in low paid jobs since the global financial crisis and there are concerns the coronavirus pandemic will further fuel these challenges.

University students say they are anxious about entering the current precarious jobs market.

University students say they are anxious about entering the current precarious jobs market. Source: Supplied

Young Australians facing a dire job market during the coronavirus pandemic risk being trapped in low-paying jobs for years. 

The Productivity Commission has published research examining how the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 subsequently dented the career prospects of young Australians. 

The report found that the financial crisis had lasting impacts on pay and career progression for younger workers between 2008 and 2018.

Advertisement
With Australia now hurtling into another major economic downturn, many university students are starting to worry about their own job prospects. 

Xavier Dupe.
Melbourne University student Xavier Dupe said he was concerned about finding work in the current economic climate. Source: Supplied


Melbourne University arts student Xavier Dupe, 23, said the uncertainty of the current economic crisis had reaffirmed these fears. 

“Anxiety and stress, definitely go into it,” he said. 

“The problem is not with us being job ready, it is with jobs being available to us.” 

Young people have witnessed the largest increases in unemployment and job losses since the pandemic began.

In June, the jobless rate for those aged between 20 and 24 reached 13.9 per cent, while for people aged 25 to 34 the jobless rate climbed to almost 7.5 per cent - together that’s around 314,000 job losses. 



Treasury expects the overall unemployment rate to reach 9.25 per cent by year's end.

Mr Dupe is concerned it will be increasingly difficult to find a job related to his course with the labour market under such sustained pressure. 

“A lot of my friends … at the hospitality job that I’m at we were each expecting to quit that job soon and go off and launch our proper careers,” he said. 

“(But) now with the coronavirus situation … it certainly doesn’t bode well for us.”

The commission’s research found that, following the global financial crisis in 2008, young people have had poorer job outcomes in the years since, with many struggling to find employment in their desired occupation. 

While the aftermath of the GFC has not been characterised by a stubbornly high-unemployment rate, there has been an increase in part-time employment among young workers. 

This has resulted in lower starting wages for young people and a constrained choice in occupations despite increased education.

 
University student Catherine Robertson.
University student Catherine Robertson. Source: Supplied


The commission’s research found that, following the global financial crisis in 2008, young people have had poorer job outcomes in the years since, with many struggling to find employment in their desired occupation. 

While the aftermath of the GFC has not been characterised by a stubbornly high-unemployment rate, there has been an increase in part-time employment among young workers. 

This has resulted in lower starting wages for young people and a constrained choice in occupations despite increased education.

University student Catherine Robertson will graduate from her degree studying arts history this year, but plans to return to study teaching to improve her employment prospects. 

She told SBS News she has confronted the challenges of precarious part-time and casualised work.

“The current situation has definitely illustrated to me that now is not the time to go into the job market,” she said. 

“I would like to enter an industry that is somewhat stable compared to my whole life of casualised work.” 



Since 2008, the report found job prospects for young people and the growth in their salaries were worse than those of workers aged 35 and over.

It found wages of workers aged 20 to 34 grew by an average of 1.46 per cent before the pandemic, falling to 0.86 per cent until 2012 and declining by 0.08 per cent per annum since. 

The report found that since 2008 a larger share of graduates found jobs such as storepersons, shelf fillers, cafe workers and other hospitality workers.

"For graduates who found employment lower down the ladder, it was difficult to recover," the report read.

"While young people's career prospects might have recovered once the labour market improved, such improvement is now unlikely for some time, given the COVID-19 crisis."

University students say they are anxious about entering the current precarious jobs market.
University students say they are anxious about entering the current precarious jobs market. Source: Supplied


University of Sydney arts and law student Abbey Shi is the general secretary of the university’s Student Representative Council. 

The international student told SBS News there is a widespread feeling of anxiety from students about their job prospects in the current labour market. 

“People feel they’re ready for jobs …  they are looking for chances but there aren’t many around,” she said. 

“If the graduates are not getting jobs at the time they graduate it means that in the long term employment market they are not going to get any chances.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stressed job creation will be a focus of Australia's post-coronavirus recovery. 

“Our JobMaker plan is designed to look at the post COVID recovery and set us up for that post COVID recovery,” he told reporters on Monday. 

The federal government has outlined a plan to steer young Australians into degrees that lead to jobs, which involves charging students less for certain courses it deems more employable. 

With AAP.


SHARE
5 min read
Published 27 July 2020 at 5:25pm
By Tom Stayner
Source: SBS