Youth unemployment has been a feature of developed economies since the 1980s. As the Australian economy continues to open to global competitive pressures, the decline in the availability of manufacturing work and the growth of the services sector have changed the nature of work.
Policies targeted at youth currently encourage the development of individual human capital. This takes place through a one-size-fits-all approach focused on increasing levels of educational qualification, with the promise that young people will find professional work.
This kind of future is not available to all young people, no matter how “work ready” they may be, especially for those in areas with high youth unemployment.
Again, these policies ignore the reality of the forms of work available in different local communities.
Does this matter in a world where young people are encouraged to be as mobile as possible in search of work and a fulfilling future?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes, for reasons connected with the role of local communities in shaping young people’s identities and pathways through work. David Farrugia outlines a different approach