Young Australians are a significant resource and Australia will need them to be innovative and entrepreneurial to create a better and stronger future as the population ages (section 1) (Lowe 2014). To reach their full potential, young people will need to be prepared to take on the opportunities of a rapidly changing world (section 2). They will face a future where work is more complex and challenging, requiring different skills from the past, and where they may piece together income from a range of sources requiring them to be more enterprising (FYA 2015).
The following section examines how young people are currently faring in their transition from school to work. It shows that despite increasing participation in education, which remains essential to successful careers, key markers of future success are not improving. Not all Australian young people are gaining the skills needed for future work and they remain behind top performing countries in reading, maths and science. It is taking on average 4.7 years after graduating education for young people to move into full time work. They are increasingly in casual work, and a third are un- or under-employed. While we traditionally considered the underskilled as being at risk, evidence shows some young Australians are now becoming overskilled, which is a significant waste of individual and social resources. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has reported that of 24 countries in 2011/12, Australia not only ranked tenth for underqualified workers (14%) but had the third highest proportion of overqualified workers (28%) (OECD 2013a).
We need to invest in young people to prepare them for the future of work. The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) is relentlessly optimistic about their capabilities and supports them to develop their ideas, enterprise skills and global connections and to gain experience so they are equipped to face, and thrive in, the future of work.