Youth unemployment in Australia is becoming a rising figure and an increasing concern. I’m not just talking about those who didn’t finish school, but even university graduates are now struggling to find relevant work. I know when I graduated from my degree I came out thinking I would be hired in no time – yes, the overconfident attitude of a recent graduate. Don’t worry, that wears off pretty quickly. It was true not of just me, but the majority of graduates from my course. Since then, I have found it to be true of the majority of job hunters in general, those who start looking for work in a particular field, and it takes months. So settle in, grab a cup of tea, because statistics show that it’s going to take a while.
I spoke to Peter Coronica, a Youth Employment Specialist, about the current unemployment situation and what you can do to come out on top.
Peter believes that one of the main reasons the unemployment rates are so high is due to “the widening gap between the education system and industry skills requirements as it’s presenting another barrier to workforce entry for young people coming to the labour market for the first time after post-secondary studies”.
So what does that mean? Well, have you ever sat in class and thought to yourself, “how is this relevant? How is this going to help me in the future?” While you may not always be right, there does seem to be a gap between what you learn in school or your degree and what skills you will actually need to make your job a success.
Peter states, “courses designed to attract as many fee-paying students as possible are turning out a surplus of graduates in popular fields without delivering the practical skills that employers look for when hiring.” This is why taking on work experience or an internship during your studies is extremely important so that you are able to gain the practical knowledge of the industry as well as developing your professional network. Alternatively, if you are not studying and are struggling to find work, you should also be considering work experience for the same reasons.
But don’t rely on me, Peter also advises:
“My number one tip: don’t wait until you graduate to get a job, get your foot in the door now. By working part time as you study, even if its in the lowliest of jobs within your industry, you are gaining skills and industry insights that are invaluable to your future employer and likely to give you the advantage over many contenders when it comes to applying for graduate positions. If you can’t find paid part time work in your field, volunteer.
Secondly, develop a clear career plan. Talk to people who are already working in your dream job. Ask them what path they took to get there and what advice they can give you to help give you an edge.”
So take charge. Going to university isn’t where it ends. In fact, it’s not even the beginning. If you are serious about finding work in a specified field, you need to start somewhere, whether it’s a part time job at the bottom of the ranks or even work experience. It will all help in eventually finding a job that you’re passionate about!