Insecure Work in Australia Fact #10: Insecure Jobs and Young Workers

The erosion of the standard employment relationship has been experienced most directly, and most painfully, by young workers. They confront the prevalence of insecure work head-on, unprotected by the traditional arrangements that carry over in many long-standing jobs. Few young people can attain permanent, full-time, decently paid work. 55 per cent of employees under age 25 are in casual jobs.[1] Almost 40 per cent are paid according to the minimum terms of a modern award.[2] Average earnings for workers under 25 are just $561 per week — less than half the average for the overall labour market.[3]

Share of Australians Under-30 in Full-Time Employment

Source: Centre for Future Work calculations from ABS Catalogue 6291.0.55.001, Table 1.

Young workers face prolonged difficulties landing decent, steady work, even well into young adulthood. For example, among workers under 30 in 2017, just 38.9 per cent held full-time employment of any kind (including casual work and contractor positions), down about 4 percentage points from 2012. In sum, young workers confront the worst features of the precarious labour market, despite higher educational attainment than any previous cohort of Australians. Indeed, almost 50 per cent of workers aged 25–34 have completed tertiary education, one of the highest post-secondary education rates in the world,[4] but the prevalence of insecure work prevents most from applying their skills to the fullest.

[1] Centre for Future Work calculations from ABS Catalogue 6333.0, Table 8.3.

[2] Centre for Future Work calculations from ABS Catalogue 6306.0, Data Cube 9, Table 1.

[3] Centre for Future Work calculations from ABS Catalogue 6306.0. Data Cube 10, Table 1.

[4] OECD, “Population With Tertiary Education,” 2016, https://data.oecd.org/eduatt/population-with-tertiary-education.htm.

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