South West youth unable to find jobs

The South West and Peel ranked tenth highest in Australia for youth unemployment with 21.6 per cent of people aged 15 to 24 years unable to find a job.

The figures were released in the State of the Regions 2018-19 report published by the National Economics/Australian Local Government Association.

The report stated job prospects for students graduating from universities had improved with 72 per cent of people with a bachelor degree finding a job in 2017.

Employment opportunities for young people without qualifications were more uncertain with disengaged youth and inequality seen as major concerns.

According to the report, the unemployment rate in the South West and Peel regions had increased 6 per cent since 2003 making the area one of the most disadvantaged youth employment regions in the country.

It was estimated that the national average for youth unemployment was 16.1 per cent, rising from 13.1 per cent in 2017.

Premier Mark McGowan said he accepted youth unemployment was still high, but there were some positive signs.

Mr McGowan said initiatives the government had undertaken to create more jobs for young people included investing $520 million in job-creating infrastructure across the regions.

He said the government had frozen TAFE fees, opened a jobs and skills centre in Bunbury, developed an economic plan for Collie and Bunbury and spent $40 million to boost tourism.

Mr McGowan also said the growing lithium industry provided enormous opportunity for jobs in the South West with Talison Lithium spending $200 million on expanding its Greenbushes mine. 

“Albemarle is also planning a lithium hydroxide processing plant in Kemerton,” he said.

“The WA IndustryLink portal will help businesses secure work on government contracts. WA Industry Link will ensure more opportunities are created for WA businesses, meaning more jobs.” 

South West MLC Steve Thomas said the labor government had perpetuated a fraud on the people of the South West and Peel  region by abandoning their number one promise of job creation and job retention. 

“By abandoning the younger generation who seek employment within their local communities, and who wish to remain in their local communities, the true metro focus of this regionally disconnected government is once again exposed,” he said. 

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said while the Peel and the South West region have been combined as a region of significant unemployment, the youth unemployment rate for the Busselton was lower at 11.3 per cent.