There are few things more demoralising or destructive of self-esteem and life chances than long-term unemployment. It is therefore alarming that long-term youth unemployment in Australia has tripled in the past six years.
In 2008 there were 19,500 long-term unemployed young people in Australia. Now there are 56,800. In Victoria there are now 81,900 unemployed young people. 14,000 of them have not worked at all in the past 12 months. It is outrageous that we make it so hard for these young people to break out of this trap by bringing in ever increasing numbers of migrant workers on both the permanent and temporary migrant worker programs. Last year net overseas migration was 240,000, and we now have over a million people from overseas in Australia on temporary visas, which give them work rights. How can we seriously expect to bring the unacceptable number of young people who are long-term unemployed down when they are subjected to such ferocious competition for entry-level jobs?
It is not that young people don’t want to work. Many of them apply for dozens, or even hundreds, of jobs without success. This lack of success is damaging their self-confidence and self-esteem and crushing them. Australia is not short of people, or short of workers. What we are lacking is the sense to realise that our migrant worker programs are way too high given the number of people who are ready, willing and able to work.