SOUTH-WEST Victoria’s alarming youth unemployment rate has been highlighted in a push to get the issue on the agenda of G20 world leaders who will meet in Brisbane in November.
Wannon electorate MP Dan Tehan has taken up the case with representatives of the Y20 organisation which meets in Australia next month, hoping they will focus on the issue and recommend it for the G20 conference.
“Youth unemployment is close to my heart — I’m very passionate about it,” he said.
“I met Australia’s Y20 representatives and they said they are keen to push the issue at their conference. I offered them support to get it onto the G20 agenda.
“I know from experience in talking to young people in my electorate just how important it is to get a start in employment.”
Mr Tehan shared his views this week on the ABC’s The Drum segment in which he put a link to The Standard’s June 17 story which said the south-west’s youth 17.4 per cent youth unemployment rate was the highest in Victoria with more than 2000 young people not earning or learning.
“More than ever, the challenges facing young people are marking how our economies will perform in the next decade,” he said on The Drum.
“Unless something is done now, developed nations are looking at an entire lost generation. It is time to put young people at the top of the G20 agenda.
“Despite the G20 success in being a constructive forum after the Global Financial Crisis, all of its members have failed to successfully address the startling challenges facing young people.”
Mr Tehan told The Standard he believed there was widespread concern across Parliament on the issue and was confident the Abbott Government’s “learn or earn” budget measure would be adopted.
“It’s a change of philosophy to ensure young people get education or are in training for work,” he said.
“But we also have to have the economic growth to ensure there are opportunities for young people to get a start in the workforce.
“New Zealand put in place similar measures and it’s working for them.”
Mr Tehan disputed that changes to higher education fees would make it harder to access courses.
He said the government would offer more scholarships for students from low socio-economic backgrounds, allow tertiary certificate three and four students to access the new student loan system and provide loans for apprentices.
“The tools for apprentices payments will be replaced by loans and if they complete their training 20 per cent of the loan will be wiped out,” Mr Tehan said.
“Figures showed that only 50 per cent of apprentices completed their training.”