The youth unemployment crisis becomes a campaign issue

Still, people with multiple jobs make about $10,000 less per year than workers with a single job. As underemployment is associated with high rates of youth unemployment in Australia, young people are also at risk of being caught in a cycle of unemployment and underemployment, including ‘dead end’ jobs.

This problem is not unique to Australia and policy-making towards solutions has typically proven challenging and persistent. However, an innovative initiative from Social Ventures Australia shows remarkable promise.


The non-profit organization used philanthropic funds to enable Australia’s first Employer Innovation Lab, aiming to improve job quality for young people in Sydney’s west and south-west. At the time of the first lab in June 2022, over 16,500 young people were actively looking for work in the region.

Social Ventures Australia’s experiment yields promising results based on evaluation research conducted by Jo Ingold, Angela Knox and Qian Yi Lee. Participating employers said the opportunity to learn more about job quality, receive free one-on-one coaching and hear from young people about their experiences of employment and job search proved particularly valuable in their goal of creating quality jobs for young people.

Although these pilot programs are ongoing initiatives, they demonstrate the potential of employer-led policymaking to achieve mutual benefits by considering both the quantity and quality of jobs available.

SVA is in the process of recruiting organizations to participate in upcoming labs.

Angela Knox is Associate Professor of Work and Organization at the University of Sydney Commercial School. Jo Ingold is Associate Professor of Human Resource Management at Deakin Business School, Deakin University. The youth unemployment crisis becomes a campaign issue

Brian Lowry

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