Release type: Transcript

Date:

Interview - ABC Wide Bay Breakfast

Ministers:

The Hon Luke Howarth MP
Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services

Subjects: Youth unemployment figures and job fair

DAVID DOWSETT:

Well, the Wide Bay has some of the highest youth unemployment figures in the country. September 2020 figures showed 27.9 per cent of youth were unemployed - 27.9 per cent. The highest rate in Queensland. So what pathways exist for young people to enter the job market? Well Luke Howarth is LNP Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services. Luke, good morning.

LUKE HOWARTH:

Good morning David. Great to be with you here in the ABC and good morning to your listeners.

DAVID DOWSETT:

Right. So what brings you to our region?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Well, I'm here for the Australian Government Jobs Fair which is being held today. And I drove up - I live in Redcliffe down in, down in Moreton Bay, north of Brisbane - and so I drove up last night, stayed at Childers last night, and came into Bundaberg this morning. And, yeah, we're here to hopefully find some people that are looking for work, get them into, into employment.

DAVID DOWSETT:

Yeah. Well, you certainly came to the right place, didn’t you, because looking at the figures they’re pretty depressing - 27.9 per cent of youth unemployed. That’s double the rate, really, for the whole of Queensland.

LUKE HOWARTH:

Yeah, we really-

DAVID DOWSETT:

What's happening?

LUKE HOWARTH:

We really want to try to get that down, you know, because [indistinct]…

DAVID DOWSETT:

So what's happened over the past few years to try and get that down?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Well, we're doing a lot with the Government just to try and support more job creation in the small and family business market. I mean, most jobs are in that sector. I come from a small and family business before I got into Parliament in 2013, so did obviously the Member up here, Keith Pitt, the Member for Hinkler. So he's spoken to me a lot about the youth unemployment issues up here and it's one of the reasons why we brought a jobs fair to Bundaberg, to give youth the opportunity to look at what is available.

We do a number of programs through the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, DESE, that I'm in. We have a program called Transition to Work to help disengaged youth, perhaps those youth that haven’t finished Year 12 or dropped out of school. And what that does is it teaches them about a whole range of different issues, including finances. And it basically explains to them about what employers want when hiring. But it is an issue. We do certainly need in the regions more jobs and more skilling for youth as well. I think that's part of the problem too, some of the youth don't have the skills that employers need.

DAVID DOWSETT:

So there's quite a few paths in place, but it doesn't seem, if we look at the numbers, that it's working. Is it time for plan B?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Yeah. Well I think we've just got to keep going and just keep encouraging people. I'd say to young people that there's- you know, the future is bright. There are a lot of jobs. Like at the jobs fair today, there's 400 jobs on offer.

DAVID DOWSETT:

So what sort of jobs are on offer?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Well, there's a lot there. I mean, there's all sorts of industries. Your traditional industries of, you know, defence and government and construction and hospitality. NDIS, and aged care - there's a lot of money going into that. But specifically today, there's apprenticeships on offer, and the Federal Government has a Boosting Apprenticeship Scheme at the moment, where if an employer in this region wants to put on a chef or a brick player, or whatever apprentice they need, we're actually paying half the wages at the moment to try and encourage people. But we've got firms like East Coast Apprenticeships that will be at the jobs fair today, that will have apprenticeships on offer there today.

So, I just encourage anyone listening that is looking for work, or perhaps their kids or grandkids are looking for work, get along to this jobs fair today. So we've got people like Bundaberg Regional Councils have jobs, waste attendants, administration, and then engineering, which is a bit more specialised obviously. We've got Bundaberg Community Corrections that's after a case manager and senior case manager. Centacare, domestic assistance and support workers and OTs.

There is a lot of work at the moment in aged care and NDIS with the money that the Morrison Government's pumping into that. I think young people should consider a career in those industries, obviously, you can learn a lot of older people. And in NDIS, it's working with people with disabilities too, and people with disabilities have a lot to offer Australia. They do require, through their package, some specialised care over the weekend. And people can earn some really good money looking after people with disabilities. So all those are on offer today.

DAVID DOWSETT:

So for youngsters who maybe aren't quite job-ready, there are pathways that could lead them to good employment?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Yeah. And see the reality is, is not every young person has parents or family members that give them the skills and the training that perhaps you and I had, you know. And so we have transition to work providers that help them. Traditionally, people would know about job active providers, and they're going through a big change at the moment as well next year, a new program called the New Employment Services Model.

But one thing that the Government has done is we've just announced new funding for an employment fund to help young people get a driver's licence too. Because, as you know, in Queensland and other states it’s a state law, you need a hundred hours of driving. And if young people that need a job don't have parents or older family members that can help them, that can be a barrier to employment. And so with this new fund that the Government, the Australian Government's put in place, they can go to their Job Active provider and get hours of training through a licenced instructor. And if they can get that first ten hours of driver's licence training, so they know what they're doing - you know, brake, stopping, starting, manual if needed - then they're more likely to be able to get the additional hours they need with friends and family.

DAVID DOWSETT:

So are you confident next time we see those stats they'll come down?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Well, I think you'll actually find employment figures come out soon, and in the next day or two. You actually might find nationally they go up due to the lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria. But my commitment, as the assistant Minister for Youth and Employment, is I want to do everything we can to reduce youth unemployment in this region. I know the Member for Hinkler, Keith Pitt, wants to do that as well. And the council, I’m meeting with the Bundaberg Council today as well whilst I'm here, they've also been engaging with local schools and businesses to try and reduce the youth unemployment.

So to everyone listening, if you can give a young person a job, they make up 15.4 per cent of the population in Queensland - people aged between 15 and 24. And if we can get them into work, it makes sure that we set them up for a job where they control their own future, and not a life dependent on welfare. So get along today, if they can, to this jobs fair.

DAVID DOWSETT:

Okay. Let’s hope the jobs fair makes a difference. Remind us where it takes place?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Yeah, thanks very much, David. Today, it's at the Bundaberg Multiplex Sport and Convention Centre at 1 Civic Avenue, Bundaberg West. The first session starts at 9:30 am. So just turn up. You can- it goes until 12 o'clock. And then there’ll be a second session from 1 pm to 3:30. So at the Bundaberg Multiplex and Sport and Convention Centre. Turn up today. I'll be all- there all day. I'd love to chat to you.

DAVID DOWSETT:

Okay. Luke Howarth. Enjoy your time in our region Thanks very much.

LUKE HOWARTH:

Thank you.

DAVID DOWSETT:

Luke Howarth, LNP Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services on ABC Wide Bay.