Ms Patten: My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Employment, Minister Pulford, and the action I seek is for her to meet with the Youth Affairs Council Victoria, YACVic, to discuss their youth employment recovery plan and the establishment of a Victorian youth employment commissioner.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected everyone’s lives, but young people have been disproportionately impacted.
This generation was already facing the prospect of being the first to be worse off than their parents, and the pandemic has exacerbated this generational inequality.
Young people are facing rising unemployment, declining mental health and unprecedented interruptions to their education and lives.
Critical supports on which young people rely have been taken away, and the next step in this crisis is occurring now as income support payments are cut, leaving tens of thousands of young people without adequate financial support.
Near the end of last year, the unemployment rate was 16.2 per cent for young people, compared to the general population at 7.1 per cent.
This is partly because young people comprise more than half of the employees in the industries which have been devastated by the pandemic, including hospitality, retail, tourism and the arts.
Without action, a generation of young people will be lost.
YACVic has identified that Victoria urgently needs a recovery plan for young people to address the impacts of this pandemic, which for many have been life changing.
Past recessions have shown that young people are more likely to experience the long-term effects of unemployment when compared to older people.
I urge the minster to meet with YACVic to run through their proposals that seek to create a whole-of-government youth employment plan for Victoria. Their idea to establish a Victorian youth employment commissioner who will be responsible for developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating youth-focused employment policies, and embedding youth participation in policy responses, is a great initiative that I urge the government to back.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment debate 4/3/21
Answered: 29 April 2021
Ms PULFORD (Western Victoria—Minister for Employment, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Minister for Small Business):
Thank you to the Member for Northern Metropolitan Region for her question and suggestions.
I am pleased to note that I met with Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) in January 2021 to discuss their youth employment recovery plan. As YACVic notes, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted young workers, in particular young women. Young people who were already struggling before the crisis are now experiencing even higher rates of unemployment and underemployment. To address this issue, the Victorian Government is making significant investments to support young Victorians including with job searching, accredited training, apprenticeship and traineeship pathways, and direct job creation.
Since 2016, the Victorian Government has supported over 9,000 jobseekers aged 15–24 through Jobs Victoria—with more than 4,000 of these having been supported into work so far. The 2020–21 Budget invested a record $619.4 million to deliver expanded support to jobseekers, including a trebling of face-to- face advice and support. This investment will enable thousands more young people to receive assistance over the next three years.
The Budget also allocated $5 million to support youth traineeships across the public sector and $250 million in wage subsidies to help create around 10,000 jobs over the next three years. Young people are a key target group for this investment.
Through the Working for Victoria Fund, around 500 young Victorians have found work via the Youth Employment Program (YEP)—with these young people placed into six to 12-month roles in numerous Victorian Government departments and agencies. In addition, 300 apprenticeships and traineeships are being funded through the Victorian Apprenticeships Recovery Package for young people state-wide—again through the Working for Victoria Fund.
I am aware of YACVic’s role in supporting young people across our state and am pleased that Working for Victoria has directly invested in expanded youth services delivery through a grant of $6.775m to a youth consortium led by YACVic. This funding is delivering new jobs in youth outreach, engagement and support services that will continue throughout 2021.
The Member may also be aware that the Hon. Ros Spence MP, Minister for Youth, is working closely with YACVic and other youth bodies to develop a new whole of Victorian Government youth strategy. A discussion paper on the strategy was released last year and consultation has been extensive. The youth strategy will help us improve outcomes for young people across all domains that affect them, including employment. I am looking forward to the strategy’s release later this year and I anticipate targeted youth employment support and outcomes will be a key feature in its implementation.
I thank the Member for her input and interest in this area. Like her, I am keen to ensure our recovery is inclusive and young people, particularly those that experience significant barriers to gaining and retaining employment, will be a key focus. We need to make sure that we harness the potential of all young people.
While I am not currently considering the establishment of a Youth Employment Commissioner, I am considering how we can best promote and drive our agenda for inclusive employment across business, the community and government. I look forward to discussing further plans in this area with the Member and other colleagues.