New research by Skillsroad, a career support initiative for youth, has found that young Australians are not flourishing like they should. In fact, they’re just doing ok.

Data from the Skillsroad 2017 Youth Census – commissioned by Apprenticeship Support Australia – suggests average levels of wellbeing are not only affecting our youth, but also the bottom line of Australian businesses. 

The national census – which surveyed 13,227 Australians between the ages of 15 and 24 – sought to identify the concerns and issues affecting youth when it comes to their transition from school to work, and to address the current concerns of employers who are struggling to attract and retain young staff despite soaring youth unemployment.

The census links average levels of wellbeing to high job turnover, the national skills shortage, increasing university and vocational dropout rates and a myriad of employment issues.

According to the census, 52.3 per cent of young people still at school are planning to attend university, despite fears of financial hardship for some and a lack of jobs in some sectors after graduation.

Only 15.8 per cent are considering VET pathways — including apprenticeships and traineeships — despite VET graduates being more likely to be in employment post completion than university graduates.

More than 60 per cent of respondents said their biggest worries in starting their career were not knowing what to do (30.4 per cent) and not liking the career they chose (30.4 per cent).

When applying for a job, young people rank pay above all else as the most important factors they consider.

Apprenticeship Support Australia Managing Director Darren Cocks says this shows that young people are likely to prioritise money over career paths that they’re genuinely passionate about, increasing the chances of them ending up in a career they don’t enjoy and impacting their confidence and resilience.

“Given, when an employee resigns, it can cost as much as 400 per cent of their salary, the cost of churn is a heavy burden for many companies,” he says.

“Pursuing careers that are intrinsically important to young people is far more likely to result in engaged staff who enjoy their work, have fewer sick days, benefit from higher levels of wellbeing and are, therefore, more likely to stay longer.”  

The census confirmed that parents possess a huge amount of power in shaping the careers of young people as they were ranked the most likely person to turn to for career advice.

“We need to supply parents with information and tools so that career conversations are positive, unbiased and comprehensive,” Cocks says.

“These conversations need to happen early and present youth with all the options so they have the best chance of choosing the path that suits them, makes them happy — minimising the risk of a false start — and increases wellbeing.   

“As a community, we need to be mindful we are not pushing any one career pathway — whether it’s because of a lack of resources or a misguided belief that one tertiary system is better than the other. We need to encourage young people to find out what truly interests them and play to their strengths.”

Businesses are encouraged to download a copy of the census to be better informed about the younger generation of workers.

Investing in apprenticeships and traineeships helps to safeguard your future workforce. Talk to the Apprenticeship Support Australia team today to find out how we can support your business through apprenticeships and traineeships.