It is a paradox that defies logic.
When experts and leaders from outside look in they are perplexed. The fact is, the youth unemployment rate for the Greater Shepparton region is high (anywhere from 14 per cent to 18 per cent, depending on which data set you use).
But, employers consistently report they cannot find people to work in their businesses.
Unemployed youth. Jobs available.
It does not add up.
Knee-jerk reactions include children today don’t want to work, and make them go and pick fruit. Maybe there is something in that, but the solutions to this perplexing social issue require some more nuanced thinking. We all have a role to play because the economy of Greater Shepparton needs people to take charge in the next generation.
Here is a call to action.
Parents: You can be such an influential voice in your children’s lives.
Whether life has worked out the way you wanted or not, there is an opportunity to leave a legacy of employed, fulfilled young people. With a good job, there is the potential to experience what life has to offer — buying a house, supporting a family, travelling the world. Create aspiration, and help match their skills and interests to what businesses need in the 21st century.
Students: Understand what you enjoy doing, and find out about the career opportunities that match those interests. Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and understand you can go a long way by starting at the bottom. The economy and the nation need you to work to the best of your potential. There is a concept called civic duty and countries become great when most of its citizens sign up to it.
Employers: We need to sell our industries and businesses as places where young people would want to work. Like or not, they have other options. Transport, agriculture and nursing — there are great careers to be had in all these areas and more, but local children won’t be interested if we allow them to be promoted as having technology and workplace practices that belong in 1980. Work experience can be a burden, but we need it so young people understand the requirements of employment.
So where do we all come together to find careers and equip our businesses with talent for the future? Careers Day Out on April 26 at the Showgrounds in Shepparton. Go to http://careersdayout.com.au/ to find out more, or call the Committee for Greater Shepparton office to get involved. We will see you there.
Local children thriving in local jobs — we can make it happen.
Sam Birrell is chief executive of the Committee for Greater Shepparton.