By The Australian Unemployment Union
Australia’s jobs crisis has made graduating university an extremely stressful time for students. Figures released by Graduate Careers Australia show the unemployment rate for university graduates at record highs. The latest available figures released in 2014 reveal that 11.6% of students graduating with a bachelor degree failed to find employment and were still looking for full-time work four months after graduation. This figure is the highest since 1995 and has more than doubled since 2008. However, as over 20% of students graduating with bachelor degrees look for full-time employment while working in a part-time or casual position, this unemployment figure only shows part of the picture. When these underemployed students are considered, the rate of bachelor degree graduates unable to find full-time employment four months after graduating almost triples to 32%, up from 14.8% in 2008. The situation for postgraduates is not much better.
Of students with master’s degrees (both coursework and research) and PhDs, the proportion without jobs four months after graduation is currently at a two-decade high of 8.7%, while the figure relating to those who have just graduated with postgraduate diplomas and certificates is the highest in over 15 years. Similarly to the undergraduate data, this statistic skyrockets when the high proportion of students who look for full time work while in a part-time of casual position are taken into consideration. When both unemployed and underemployed graduates are considered, the figures show that 17.7% of students with postgraduate degrees were still looking for full time work four months after graduating – up from 9.9%% in 2008.
At the heart of this alarming trend of graduates failing to find full-time employment lies Australia’s job crisis. In 2008, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) stated that there were a total of 1.319 million Australians actively seeking full-time employment, made up of 657,000 unemployed and 661,000 underemployed. For this group of people seeking full-time work, the Department of Employment listed 305,300 job vacancies. Overall, these figures amounted to around four applicants per job vacancy.
Today, as the effects of the Global financial Crisis set in, the situation has become much worse. In February 2015, the ABS stated that the amount of people actively seeking full-time employment jumped up to 1.838 million (made up of 777,300 unemployed and 1.06 million underemployed). This marked a staggering 39% increase since 2008. However, this was only half of the problem: in 2015 the amount of job vacancies listed by the Department of Employment almost halved to 159,400, resulting in job seekers outnumbering job vacancies 11 to 1. Considering this alarming increase of job seekers per job vacancies – which increased a staggering 64% in 7 years – it comes as no surprise that university graduates are struggling to find full-time employment.
At this point, it is worth looking into how the Coalition Government has responded to this jobs crisis. For example, have the Coalition made any attempts to increase the amount of job vacancies?
No. In fact, they have done the opposite and have been systematically slashing jobs in the public service. Since being elected, 100,000 Australians have become unemployed while 150,000 have become underemployed. Even the government’s election promise to create 2 million jobs over the next decade is actually below the rate of expected employment growth.
Have the Coalition tried to take responsibility for its failure to create enough jobs by introducing a fair welfare system?
No. Instead, the Coalition has introduced the most wide-ranging series of attacks ever launched on the Australian welfare state since it was introduced in 1945. Rather than attempting to fix this jobs crisis, the Federal government has launched an unprecedented range of attacks against the unemployed, pensioners, the disabled and families. These measures include a proposal forcing under 30s off the Newstart benefit for 6 months at a time, increasing the punitive powers of the privately owned Employment Service Providers, and a massive expansion of the Work for the Dole scheme. It is important to remember, however, that there is nothing new about the government making life difficult for the unemployed. Currently, the Newstart unemployment benefit is $280 per fortnight below the poverty line – defined by Australian Council of Social Services as 50% the median wage (currently $400 per week) and has not increased in real terms since 1994. Youth allowance – the lifeline for many students – is $373 per fortnight below the poverty line and has not increased in real terms since 1994.
The Australian Unemployment Union, founded in early 2014, demand that the government immediately address this jobs crisis through implementing an extensive program of job creation. Rather than blaming and punishing the unemployed for this jobs crisis, the AUU demand that the Government take responsibility for its failure to create enough jobs and lift the rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance entitlements above the poverty line. Considering the urgency of this matter, it is crucial that an effective movement demanding a solution to the jobs crisis is formed. The unemployed, the underemployed, students, workers and concerned citizens must make their voices heard on this subject. If they don’t, then who will?
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