POST 83: THE MCGOWAN GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

Introduction

Winning total control of parliament, the Labor Party can make inroads on WA’s forgotten youth.

The jobless youth numbers are staying above the 30,000 mark. For February 2021, the Australian Bureau of Statistics demonstrated there are over 33,000 young West Australians out of work. Unemployment rate of 14.6%.

This ought to ring alarm bells to the McGowan government whose record on youth employment is extremely poor. In January 2021, the youth jobless figure was over 36,000.

The effective unemployment rate.

Table 1 highlights the plight of youth unemployment. Population Research have calculated the ‘effective unemployment rate’ which included people dropped out of the Labour force since the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020.        

Table 1, WA youth (15-24), official and effective unemployment, February 2021

MonthLabour force total (000’S)Official total unemployed (000’s)Official unemployment rate
Feb 2021225.6432.9514.6%
Temporarily stood down (000’s)Official unemployed plus stood down (000’s)Unemployment plus stood down (effective rate)
March 2020-Feb 20216.7839.7317.6%

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021

What may the McGowan government do to help?

Major research work by the Australian Government Productivity Commission demonstrated large numbers of low skilled migrants and foreign students are pushing low skilled Australian youth out of the job market.

Research from the Grattan Institute suggested Australia is now running a low-skill migration system. Due to their visa conditions, many migrants have incentives to work for less than minimum wages, and there is anecdotal evidence that many do.

Large State migration occupation lists are a key attractor for low skilled temporary migrants/students. Therefore, If the State government establish a large occupation list, then migrants will flow into that State.

This is a significant failure of the McGowan government; they have ignored the evidence and operated a big migration program for the past 4 years. With so much migrant labour to choose from, Industries have no incentive to employ local labour on higher wages.

One solution is very clear

Put an end to State-run invitations for temporary migrants. But the McGowan government refuse to do so.

Within a few weeks, the government can make a sensible decision by restricting the migration list to those in key highly-qualified medical professions.

By comparison, there are no labour shortages for low to semi skilled positions in Western Australia, in total there are nearly 90,000 Western Australian’s applying for jobs and are unsuccessful.

For starters, there are two changes to State migration which need to happen. First the McGowan government should terminate Greater Perth’s regional designation for temporary visas. Next, the McGowan government needs to close their foreign graduate stream, thereby freeing up occupations’ for out of work West Australian’s.

In 2019/20 the McGowan government offered 3,400 nominations to temporary migrants. In January 2021, the government invited applications from migrants for 350 State occupations. The government needs to put WA’s jobless first.

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