Youth Unemployment

Do we follow our dreams or take the safe route?!


Should we focus on getting jobs that fulfill us, or is it all about putting food on the table? I guess there is more than one way to earn a living, yet it is much easier said than done.

It's no secret that youth unemployment is an issue in this nation, and one that doesn't often get the airtime that it deserves.  Granted our situation is a far cry from the malaise that is the European situation, with the likes of Spain and Italy seeing double digit unemployment numbers. However, in the economic situation that we are in today, is traditional job creation the answer?

One of the ways in which the United States has continued to be an attractive location for entrepreneurs and budding start ups is its welcoming policy framework around innovation and enterprising.

Furthermore, the extraordinarily capitalist nation that America is means that young people 'must' make it - they don't have the same safety net of HECS (Higher Education Commonwealth Support) and Centerlink that we take for granted here in Australia.  As such, young people graduate from university with lukewarm prospects of traditional employment and debt to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The system, although not perfect, rewards enterprising and entrepreneurship.

In Australia, although we are placed in the top 10 nations for entrepreneurship culture around the world, doesn't necessarily reward it in the same way...

However, is it becoming a more important piece in the puzzle to fight unemployment?

This isn't the only problem either.

On an ideological front, the idea of following your dreams if often sold.  We are taught coming up through school that we should follow our passions, do what we love, never give up, keep trying and it will all work out.

On the other hand, society shuns failure, and we still need to find ways to put food on the table.  Furthermore, the workforce itself hasn't changed.  It's seems to be full of people who 'put the hard yards in' to get to where they are now, and see a job as a form of employment and a duty for the pay check as opposed to a place for self fulfillment.  Our bosses aren't there to help us find our purpose in life.  They've hired us for a job and it's that job they are interested in.  If you've been one of the lucky ones to find a job that perfectly aligns with your love in life then you're doing well, but as has become clearer to me as I have moved into the workforce, not everyone has that luxury.

Once we start asking ourselves these questions, it seems like everywhere you turn you can find the blog of someone who has turned their passion into paying job.  'I want to do that!' You think...I want to do what makes me happy!

Of course, this then goes to the point about happiness, and whether life is about finding happiness or about meaning...and what does that mean anyway?

This leads me back to the original question.  Should we forgo security and working ‘for the man’ to ‘follow our dreams’ which is a much riskier path, or do we take the safe option and do what we are ‘supposed to’ by getting a good, less risky, stable job and figuring the rest out on the side?

I don't know. I haven't figured it out yet. People keep telling me I have my whole life to go (Insha' Allah), but sometimes I feel this anxiety about whether the choices I am making about my career and path and the right choices or whether I am closing doors that I will regret.

...then I think of the words of my friend who very simply said:

'You are in the place you are meant to be right now, and it's perfect.  All the choices you've made have brought you here, and so it's all perfect for right now'.

I guess it is times like this I find solace in the concept of fate and destiny.  Alhamdulilah...


What do you think?


Yassmin Abdel-Magied

SMH: Youth issues drowned amid sound bites

Just after the Australian election, my  first 'real-life' paper opinion piece appeared in the Sun-Herald paper, the Sunday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald. Icing on the cake? Malcolm Fraser himself retweeted it!


In case you missed it, check it out below...


It has been a long five weeks. It would be fair to say it has been a long seven months; since the first election announcement on January 30, the political onslaught has been relentless.

The cycle of topical and divisive issues such as asylum seekers, the economy, the national broadband network and the paid parental leave scheme have dominated. Tiringly, these issues are only ever discussed in sound bites.

The debates made conspicuous by their absence however, were those about the policies that directly address issues of importance to young people and the longer-term future of our nation.

Climate change has been spoken about only in so far as to scrap the carbon tax. It would seem Maslow's hierarchy of needs is at work, with parties playing on voters' survival instinct rather than longer-term attitudes towards morality. In an environment where the fear of the "budget emergency" and the "rise in the cost of living" are touted as immediate crises, the apparent "ethical luxury" of a shift to sustainable development is no longer part of the debate.


The fear-mongering flies in the face of data from the National Electricity Market, which indicates a 7 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2011-12 to 2012-13. Naturally, the entire reduction cannot be attributed simply to the tax and it alone is not the whole answer. Nonetheless, the objective remains: to reduce our society's impact on the environment by whichever means are most effective.

Young people have been left behind at both ends of Maslow's hierarchy. Not only has the issue of climate change been removed from consideration, but the physiological and safety needs in employment and housing have been underplayed.

The unemployment rate for people aged 15 to 24 is 11.5 per cent, double the general number and up from 8.8 per cent in 2008. For those between 15 and 19, it is 27.3 per cent, up from 15.5 per cent in 2008. The Foundation for Young Australians' How Young People Are Faring 2012 report shows opportunities for them to take up full-time work have declined over the past 25 years.

Furthermore, the demographics of our workforce are changing. Job vacancies are low, with one in five unemployed for every vacancy in some states. Even for the 73.4 per cent of young people engaged in full-time education or training, their prospects once their training is over have been diminished.

The difficulties are further compounded for the vulnerable. Students from low socio-economic backgrounds (13.8 per cent) are twice as likely as their wealthier counterparts (5.2 per cent) to be out of employment, education or training. For indigenous youth and those with a disability, the rate is three times as high.

Housing is another sleeper issue largely ignored by public debate, with numbers showing a continuing decline in the value of loans taken out by first home buyers. Young people are also over-represented among the homeless.

The solutions provided by each side of the house are insufficient. The structures within the labour force, entry to employment and the effectiveness of traditional pathways need to be reassessed. To do that, however, these issues need to be on the table.

Perhaps the voting power of young people is not enough to set the agenda yet, but climate change during the 2010 election implied the opposite. The short-sightedness of our leading parties, however, means the burgeoning issues of our time are left aside for emotive discussions that play on voters' fears.

We can only hope that now that the decision has been settled, we will see some long-term visionary thinking. Optimistic perhaps, but isn't that the blessing of youth.

Read the original on the Sydney Morning Herald Website here. 


So what do you think? What issues are now missing from the agenda?