Youth Unemployment in Bendigo

In March 2019, the Brotherhood of St Laurence published a report that showed that the Bendigo region had the highest rate of youth unemployment in Victoria at 18.3 %. Those numbers are only going to rise as the economic consequences of the pandemic hit home.

I have been speaking with businesses that employ young people, and this is a serious issue. In addition, it is a priority of the Bendigo youth council, who named youth employment as a key area of the youth strategy.

There are not only the economic consequences of long-term unemployment of young people, but also the mental health consequences, and the likelihood of more young people leaving Bendigo to look for work.

Exactly how council plays a constructive role is difficult to say: local government does not set employment law, nor does it have the resources to provide financial incentives to employers to take on young people. However, I think there are few things local councils can do:

  1. To ensure existing traineeships and apprenticeships do not fail, council should play a co-ordinating role to ensure TAFE, job agencies, mental health agencies, and employers communicate with each other.
  2. To give young people much needed work experience, council needs to rapidly expand its traineeship program for young people.
  3. To equip businesses who do employ young people, council needs to fund free workshops to businesses that train managers in relating to young people.

(Photo Credit: Noni Hyett)