COVID-19 hits disadvantaged youths hard

(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more challenging for young disadvantaged Australians to secure work or study after high school, a new survey has found.

The Smith Family surveyed 1500 young people who finished year 12 in 2020 and were experiencing disadvantage.

Three in four of those youths went into work or study in their first year after high school, the survey released on Monday showed.

Just over half of the participants complete 35 hours of work or study each week, while 39 per cent said they wanted to work more hours.

COVID-19 was identified as a major challenge during the participants’ final year of school and the year after. 

“COVID has exacerbated the employment challenges facing young people, who are more vulnerable to entering the labour market in times of uncertainty,” Anne Hampshire, The Smith Family’s head of research and advocacy, said.

“These challenges are particularly acute for young people experiencing disadvantage.”

Young people experiencing disadvantage wanted more access to comprehensive and personalised career advice, mentors, and internships, the survey found.

The survey results should prompt schools, businesses and organisations to better support this cohort in their lives after high school, Ms Hampshire said.

“Supporting young people experiencing disadvantage to make positive post-school transitions is critical for their longer-term life outcomes and the contribution they can make to Australia’s economic and social wellbeing,” she said.

“We all benefit from this. With the right, targeted support, we can help all young people to thrive post school.”


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