Good afternoon. It’s wonderful to be here virtually to wrap up the third and final session of Jobs Australia’s 2021 National Youth Forum. I’d like to thank Jobs Australia for organising this event, and all the other community and social service organisations that have taken part, thank you for what you do. This has been a great opportunity for all to come together and provide valuable insights into the issues and challenges faced by young Australians who are finding their place in the world.
As Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services, I am determined to see young people at the early stage of their life get all the support and information they need to get in to the workforce and get ahead. I’m dedicated to listen to what’s important to young Australians and to help them get skills in areas where the greatest demand for jobs exists, both now and in the future. We know young Australians in particular have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with youth unemployment rates more than double that of the general population.
Our youth represent Australia’s future, and so it is essential that we deliver programs and initiatives that help them put their best foot forward. That’s why in the 2021-2022 Budget, the Australian Government announced several measures aimed at ensuring businesses continue to receive direct support, to help young people kick-start their careers. More than $2.7 billion has been committed to boosting apprenticeship commencements, supporting businesses and group training organisations to take on new apprentices and trainees. Our JobTrainer program, which targets 18 to 24 year olds, received an additional $500 million, to be matched by the state and territory governments. This will allow for an extra 163,000 low fee and free training places. Also an additional $481.2 million investment in youth services will go towards initiatives like our highly successful Transition to Work service. This service forms part of the Australian Government’s new employment services model which rolls out from July 2022. Through offering intensive pre-employment assistance for eligible young Australians aged 15 to 24, Transition to Work will help support an average caseload of 41,000 disadvantaged young people each year. As such, more of our youth will have access to tailored specialist support to build their practical and other skills, help them become work ready, to secure employment.
The Australian Government is strengthening Australia’s vocational education and training system. This initiative gets students out of the classroom and into the world, resulting in work ready employees that Australian businesses need to thrive. Local initiatives like our Local Jobs Program support Australian communities by equipping people with skills and training that matches what local employers need. And I’ve recently attended the Australian Government’s Job Fairs in the ACT, Tasmania and Western Australia, and let me say they’re a great example of connecting job seekers and employers so that they understand what employers want when hiring. What we hear back from both employers who advertise jobs at the fairs, and through the employment facilitators who attend the events, is how powerful it can be to connect those job seekers with employers. We give them resume help, and we also help them understand what it is they need to do and present at interviews as well. This sort of linking up of services and providing personal targeted support is what we will expect as the norm as part of our new employment services model.
At the same time, the National Careers Institute is continuing its work on improving the quality of career guidance available to people at all stages of their career. To date, more than 200 young people have had a one on one session with a career practitioner, and resources like the School Leavers Information Kit and the School Leavers Information Service are also invaluable in helping young people work out their next steps. Additional information is available on the National Careers Institute’s Your Career website.
As we emerge from COVID-19, there will be more and more opportunities to help young Australians get into work. The Australian Government will continue to work with Jobs Australia to get the best outcomes for young people finding their place in the workforce. And I look forward to receiving feedback from your discussions at this forum. Conversations like these and the sharing of expertise in your field will help today’s youth to prepare for tomorrow’s future. Thank you for everything that you do.