The Struggles of Youth Employment

After finishing year 12 in Brisbane during 2014 with a Certificate IV In Justice Studies and a plan for a gap year, I was hopeful to find a job to save some money for a car before uni. Now after 3 months of looking for a job every day through seek, student edge, gumtree and all other forms of employment websites / services I still do not have a job even with being available full time 7 days a week. Now I know this is not some struggle that I singularly partake in, it is an Australia wide lack of jobs for youth, graduates etc. Does anyone have any ideas on how myself or others can find a job fresh out of school?


  • I think it's a general trend. I've been suffering really bad this year trying to get a job.

    • +3

      Looking at statistics, youth unemployment is getting worse year after year.

      I generated some data using Trading Economic's website.

      5 year trend (2010 - end of 2014)


      And years data from 2000~2010

      Notice the big increase in unemployment rates in 2008 — seems to coincide with the GFC.

      Most developed countries today have a youth unemployment problem, according to Wiki (see case studies)

      • sigh

      • +1

        I remember when Airtasker first came out I was so excited to make $20 here or there for doing random little tasks. My friends with full-time jobs laughed, enquired about tax issues and carried on with their lives. The students, recent graduates and backpackers were all ears and… fast-forward to the present and getting an Airtasker job is as competitive as getting a job on SEEK (except you have to self-aggrandize in public :)).

        The worst part is that some people (guilty as charged) will work for next to nothing knowing they can build up a portfolio or gain an ongoing client. Most clients on alternative international freelancing websites wish to pay less than $10 AUD/hr (sadly, over $10/hr only became a reality thanks to the sinking Aussie dollar) and it's hard for an honest person or the average, self-taught, fresh out of high school student to compete. Digging trenches at a casual rate of $23/hr was a relative blessing.

    • I had a long period of unemployment early last year and whilst I'd be considered a 'youth', I do have experience working internationally, running own business, public speaking, in a local huge firm and I speak 3 languages. Yet I couldn't find anything: silence/no reply from employers, entry levels roles demanding ridiculous qualifications that some 'graduate' is unlikely to have or companies simply not hiring.

      However I was fortunate to find a part-time placement in a very small firm, very below my standards but it'll be worth the experience and training. My best advice to anyone is to apply for things a bit beyond your interests or priorities and take what you can get because it's a damn hard job market these days. Volunteering (although funny enough also hard to get a placement) is a good way to use as leverage for a job.

      Very sad that we see all this bickering in politics about education education education, yet where are those 'graduates' going to find jobs? hmmm….


      • +4

        I think it's a good idea to build up a diverse set of skills rather than concentrating in just one. One mistake students make is that they limit themselves to jobs that they are studying for and ignore all the other potential roles they could fill. Then they wonder why they haven't found a job after 6 months of searching…

        You have to make opportunities for yourself rather than waiting for the right job to fall into your lap. This isn't going to happen with today's job markets.

        There's the saying 'the jack of all trades is the master of none', which I believe is still correct but when times are tough a jack of all trades, in terms of human capital, is far more mobile and flexible than someone who is only looking to specialize in one specific trade.

        Also relevant: Why you will fail to have a great career

  • +7

    Sorry if I make some assumptions here but I hear this type of story all the time. Can you tell us the types of jobs you are applying for? You mention a certificate in Justice Studies, I hope you are not limiting yourself to jobs in this field? I think one of the biggest issues today is people thinking they are to good for most jobs, even though they have just left high school and have little to no professional skills or experience to offer. I started out working in a corner chicken shop slaving over deep fryers and hot plates with no air con, then moved onto working in a Dick Smith store where I worked my way to store manager, by this time I finished uni and I'm now work in a major company as a project manager. I dont mean to gloat or belittle you but you have to start somewhere, I'm sorry if my assumptions are incorrect here but just because you have a certificate doesnt mean you are above doing the tougher jobs to get started. Id also like to point out my Uni grades were not that great (credit average), I landed a graduate position with said major company (1 of 8000 applicants) because I had been working hard since I was 15 and showed constant progression and a good work ethic, not because of my uni certificate; that was just a gate opener. Recommendation is find an employer that will teach you skills you can use, like customer service and appreciate a hard days work; will put you in a much better position post uni then a glamour job that everyone applies for.

    • +1

      I just wanted to drop in with my experience here. I took a break from uni (after 2nd year), and worked full time in mining for a few of years. In less than 2 years i worked my way up from bottom of the pack, to a managerial position. I went back to uni full time and finished my degree.

      I've applied for unqualified positions in my industry, graduate and professional. Can't get a single job, not even an interview. Willing to relocate at my own expense, no wife, kids etc. I'm an Australian citizen and have accommodation here and in perth. Honestly, if one of the big companies called today and said "you can have the job, but have to be on the first plane tomorrow" - i'd be there in the departure lounge

      In the past year i've applied for over 150 jobs. I've asked people to critique my resume and cover letters. Nothing. I've had 2 replies requesting further information, the rest have been either no reply or standard unsuccessful letter. It's straight up depressing.

      • I feel for you, the mining industry is a ballbreaker atm, the jobs are being cut and even qualified and experienced people are struggling. Its like most industries, example IT; epic money on offer in the 90s because there was high demand and not enough people to fill the spots. So every man and his dog went and got an IT qualification; Flooded the market and as the demand went down those people had nothing and today its a very specialised industry where only the best survive. Same thing happened with mining and now that people with Visa's are coming in with the correct pieces of paper/qualification and experience prepared to work for a faction of the cost it is making it even harder again. My Brother is in the mining Industry and the only time he can land a gig is because of the connections he made in previous jobs. My recommendation would be to get a job on the work sites doing anything, be a TA or driver or anything and once you are there network like no tomorrow.

      • Hey Davo, I feel for you. Wonder why you thought it necessary to finish your degree in a hurry when you had that managerial position in hand? In hindsight, would it have been better to hold onto your position and stall the degree I wonder. Just seen mining ads that shout in your face 'Mining is Hiring' enough to make one's eyes pop out with dollar notes. Sadly when you read the actual application, it asks for 3 years experience to be cited, so what hope for the newy graduates who have no mining experience to brag about?

        • Had to take redundancy with the downturn. So just returned to uni to polish off the degree.

          Sadly when you read the actual application, it asks for 3 years experience to be cited,

          some do, but i can't claim that. I'm in this shitty middle ground, "too much" experience for a grad position, too little experience for a permanent position.

        • @Davo1111: same here!

  • What job experience do you have as well? If you have no job experience that will definitely make it harder to get a job.

  • +4

    I agree with cypher.
    I am at the other end, having retired, got bored, found a job as a cleaner (walking up and personally asking for it). Now am in charge of 12 others (so don't actually clean at work now).
    I love to employ Uni students as I think I might be able to help them with their future. Early morning or afternoon shifts available; workload sharing also available.
    Alas, the four Aussie undergraduates I have started so far didn't last. Too many days off ("sorry, I was sick" - yeah right, every second Monday?) Suddenly, a week before, deciding they "HAD" to go North/South/East during Uni hols for "study/research". One resigned as she "had to go home and have a shower before attending Uni" (2 hrs after regular shift end.
    All the "tricks" I thought I got away with when I was their age.
    No, I'm not a hard-arsed boss. I allow time off for just about any reason and work it so they "cover" each others absences without loss of pay.(eg one had a week off because his daughter went to hospital for a 6 hr back operation)
    I still employ Uni students - Asian Internationals on Study Visas. They ask for a job, they turn up every day unless for a genuine reason when they ring in straight away or have Uni requirements they've told me about weeks before, they do the job well, they don't complain unnecessarily, and fit in well with the rest of the group. Unfortunately they have to go when they have their Degree as we have all become good friends by then.
    Do you have a First Aid Certificate? It can just swing the job your way.
    Its all about how you can credibly present yourself.
    Go in person and ask for a job
    Don't say you can do it unless you really can.
    Don't wear your earbuds when applying nor at work.
    Turn phone off when applying; and on silent when at work. Return calls on your break time unless emergency (tell Line Manager if it is)
    Be either 5 minutes early or at least on time.
    Finish work for smoko, lunch end of day either at time or (best) a few minutes late each day.
    The 5 minutes each way rule I told my daughters when they started their first part-time jobs. 1 Runs Client Services for a Bank (about 20 staff), the other runs a child-care Centre - and what did it cost? 10mins x 5days x46 weeks = 2300minutes or 38 hours. But the reality was they had already made themselves the "Responsible go-to person" before 3 months were up, so the investment was more like 8 or 9 hours (1 days worth).
    Last point: If you've been working a crappy job for (say) 3 months and go for a better one, the potential boss thinks "hmm, Davo lasted that long doing that crappy job, he must be reliable; I'll give him a go".
    Don't laugh, it really happens that way!
    ps: you've made the right first move: You've enunciated the difficulty. Now go the next step and ask EVERYBODY; you will be surprised who can offer jobs.

  • +1

    Have you tried handing out your resume at stores? I found that this was a good way to get into hospitality and retail. Some places don't advertise positions and rely on job seekers approaching them. For example, when I left high school and had little job experience (I worked in my school library during high school)I approached small franchises and just asked to speak to the owner/manager. Each time they asked a few questions, got to see how I interacted, and I got call backs and job offers. Of course, it took time to find places that were prepared to take me on. I found that the franchises (IGA and Donut King) didn't pay well, and I had to work incredibly hard, but they were stepping stones, and I ended up developing a very good work ethic. If you haven't already, you might like to consider approaching a big supermarket chain, and asking to see the Store Manager (online applications for coles and woolies arn't the best). They offer good pay, nice work conditions and usually a store discount card or two.

  • I know a few people in their early 20's who just continue to study as they cannot find jobs. No one wants to get stuck in retail or fast food for the rest of their life. It's no good racking up uni debt either, but hopefully the qualifications pay off in the future.

  • +1

    It's very hard to find short-term or casual jobs these days in particular. A lot of the 18 year olds you see with jobs won't be there for long (through their choice or not). A lot of them lie and say they're planning to work throughout the year (but quit after "uni work gets too tough" ;)) while a good chunk of the others will be let go when things quieten down. A handful will end up on part-time salaries or the existing measly cash-in-hand they're currently getting.

    Ignore the demeaning tone of all those who say you just have to get your foot in the door in some low-level job as if you haven't been looking for those already. Most franchises during the summer period hired an overload of casuals that they 'round 'bout February would have been shifting to short and sweet part-time roles. It gets even harder once you graduate uni since (other than having to pay you more) these same shops won't believe you actually want the job. Pizza Hut's manager laughed at my resume when they saw my degree and that I had real-life working experience. The same happened at a few labour-hire agencies (most of them pre-tick the box for "no HECS debt" since most of their employees are on working-holiday visas). "Dumbing down" resumes doesn't fill in gaps either so don't think youth or a lack of experience is a concern.

    One tip I've heard is to repeatedly apply for the same job. Its sounds somewhat counter-intuitive (looking like a spammer) but with large companies you're more likely to get on the radar (e.g. Woolworths). Another tip is to look way, way out there for jobs (but your location can work against you). If you live in a working-tourist-dense area that's far from industrial areas in particular there's a lot more competition for menial jobs.

    • Haha. I used to work at Pizza Hut and whenever a person applied for a job and went to uni or had a degree they would instantly dump it. As they would not stay that long and theres no point in wasting time to train someone. Though who wants to be there anyway. Ugh horrible times. :P

  • If you want to fit some Aussie travel in, you could spend the year following the fruit picking trail…. Just check where they're picking at the moment, then try ringing the nearest backpackers and ask if there's any work available.

  • Give up. Go overseas ASAP and work there. Enjoy your gap year instead of just sitting in a holding pattern for the year. Either way you'll end up with no money for a car!

    You think Brisbane is hard…try the Sunny Coast. I applied for hundreds of jobs over the years and never got anywhere near anything. Went to Scotland and had 3 job offers within a day…one without an interview - the woman just looked me up and down and offered me a job on the spot. It made me realise that there wasn't anything wrong with me (you start to wonder after the 200th job application) and I ended up with the elusive 'experience' they demand of you here before even considering you for a position. I had a ball working over there with a bunch of Aussies, so much so that I dragged my husband back and did it all over again a couple of years after we finished uni. It was awesome second time round too.

    Things have changed a bit in the UK from what I've heard, but there is a whole world out there to go and explore. I know people who have taught English in Asian countries, worked as Summer camp supervisors in the USA (that will be coming up soon), worked in Ski resorts in Canada etc. They've all had a great adventure and got paid (just enough to live, you won't make a fortune doing this) whilst doing it.

  • Go get an Austswim TSW licence and teach at swimming pools. Pay is generally pretty good but please don't be one of those instructors with no flapping clue as to what is going on. Lots of people go get that qualification but have no real idea how to swim let alone teach others how to swim. Having said that the pay is good ($30/h) and loads of people are there because of that with no real interest in swimming.
    I've enquired at pools around Sydney and it's pretty easy to find a job, hopefully it's the same up in Brisbane.

  • If you are applying for a part time job whilst studying at Uni, even harder, because the employer knows you have limited hours to spare and at your terms! So they don't bother,instead they prefer the applicants who want a full time position - enter the 457 visa workers who are there for the training and to fulfill their course requirements. Plus employers who take in the 457 workers pay only part of their wages, the rest is subsidised by government. On one employee alone, an employer can save $6K or more per year. It is bleak in the barista/hospitality industry, several members in my family have given up in that area, despite having the certs and licenses. And as for 'experience', tell me how the young folk can cite any experience if they are not given the chance at a job to collect the experience. No wonder the Uni graduates are delaying work and they go on to do Honors and Masters postgraduate to stall the process. Not surprising that many end up in positions meant for graduates at graduate pay only, because employer cannot afford to pay them Masters degree salary. And they have to get what comes their way otherwise be jobless.

  • Just heard from a relative who holds human resource managerial position at a famous private bus company that bus drivers are much needed in bus companies (private and touring ones), even shuttling school buses for private schools etc. For part time job whilst waiting for permanent work, may be worthwhile to get a heavy vehicle license.

  • Do a trade! A lot of shortages in our trade force. A desk job isnt all its cracked up to be, (writing this from my desk job).

    • trade isnt that easy these days

      getting an apprenticeship is hard

  • Hi guys. I recently left my first graduate job after 4.5 years (first job out of uni) in logistics. And after coming back from a holiday in Japan, I noticed the struggle too. So I've proceeded to complete a diploma in project management online - which is a useful qualification to have - in my cas it supports my bachelor degree in business and cert IV in training and assessment.

    My recommendation is to have a look at the site, which details all professions and you can save ones you like and then look in depth to the industry growth and prospects (in each city and region) - and also has links to training and education options. I found it a great resource to focus on areas that I like but also have greater demand.

    In my process of my job hunting I also collated all these great websites and resources along the way.
    I uploaded these links and etc to my own website -
    Some of you may find the resources useful.

    Good luck with the job hunt.

    • Just some advice from a project manager, the industry is very picky about PMs now, I have Prince 2 and PMI with 3 years hands on experience and I consider myself lucky to have a good job & if I lost it I doubt id find a job easily enough. Knowing what my company look for in PMs is all about experience, id be surprised if having a diploma makes any difference as opposed to joining a project as a BA or PO and getting first hand experience.

      • ah ok. For me the degree is to support my exising skills - as in if i wanted to move into the community sector many of those roles require managing projects and budgets, which the project management skills would be useful leverage. So in my case, the context of the studies isn't primarily as a project manager but rather a qualification which brings additional weight / supports a major tertiary education / studies :)

  • I know nothing about you or your skills but…