Regional youth in Australia: out of school and out of work

Since I have been posting on the status of youth in regional Australia, every second news item seems to be relevant.

A case in point is the release of the second year evaluation of the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions. This evaluation found that participation in school and vocational education has increased considerably in the past few years.  What has remained troubling high is the proportion of youth not employed and not in full-time education. According to the report it is over 20%–22.5% in 2011.  That would be enough to cause riots in Greece or France but it seems accepted in Australia that a large minority of youth will have a rocky transition to a living wage.

What the report did not examine in detail if these rates are different for regional, rural and remote youth compared to youth in major cities.

Let’s look at the local situation.  I have already described how 20-24 year olds in the Mid West and Gascoyne are less likely to be employed than their peers in Perth (here). I have also shown that they are less likely to be attending an educational institution (here). So the result of putting these two patterns together wasn’t a total surprise.

Using the 2011 census, I calculated that in the Gascoyne 20% of youth aged 20-24 years were not enrolled in any educational institution (full or part-time) and not employed (again, full or part-time).  Despite the stronger economy and extensive vocation training offerings in the Mid West, the figure was 19%.  Compare this to 10% for 20-24 year olds living in the greater Perth area.

Maybe, I thought, this is just a peculiarity of Western Australia’s economy. So I did the calculations for Queensland and South Australia. In Queensland 12% of young people aged 20-24 in greater Brisbane were not studying and not employed. Outside of Brisbane the rate rose to 16%. In South Australia the figures were 12% for Adelaide and 20% for the rest of the state.

Of course there are many reasons that young people may not be in studying or in the labour force. Many are not ‘disengaged’or ínactive’ as the literature labels them.  Previous post showed that up to one-quarter of young women in the Mid West and Gascoyne are mothers (here) and that early motherhood is more common throughout regional, rural and remote Australia (here). Other young people may have disabilities that make it difficult to find employment.  But when we see systematic differences between those living in major cities and those who are not, then we have to wonder how well our public and private institutions are meeting the needs of the next generation of parents and community leaders.

This is part of a series of posts on how regional youth are faring. The data comes from the Australian Bureau of Statistic’s 2011 Census and specific information I generated from the excellent TableBuilders Pro program on the ABS website.

Thank you to Alan Bradley, CEO of the Regional Development Australia Mid West Gascoyne for commissioning this profile of regional youth.

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