Jobless youth in Parramatta state's highest

Youth unemployment has spiked in the last year, with the highest number of jobless young people in the state in Parramatta, the Brotherhood of St Laurence says.

The social services provider said new labour force data released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows 16.8 per cent of young people in the Parramatta region are out of work, up 48 per cent in the year to February 2014.

‘‘I wasn’t surprised by those figures,’’ said Parramatta youth connections outreach worker for MTC Australia, Shiva Gounden.

‘‘When you try to connect young people to employment services, you see that many people are hesitant to hire them. I think there needs to be more organisations that focus on youth employment instead of just normal job services. The working age is 15 but most of the employment services work with clients over 18.’’

Brotherhood of St Laurence director Tony Nicholson told the Sun if the trend continues, Parramatta’s youth unemployment rate would hit 26.4 per cent by 2016.

‘‘That’s really disaster territory,’’ Mr Nicholson said.

‘‘Those levels in the mid 20 per cents are getting close to what you see in the train-wreck economies of Europe.

"We are really at risk of leaving a whole generation of our young people consigned to the scrapheap. This is not just something that’s happening in Parramatta and western Sydney, it’s happening in local communities right across Australia.’’

Asked about the ABS stats analysis, Parramatta lord mayor John Chedid said creating employment opportunities for young people is a challenge for all levels of government and many of the issues require a coordinated response across western Sydney.

‘‘Council's role and resources mean that we have to work with the private sector and state government to provide opportunities for jobs growth and the transport and education that allows our young people to access these jobs,’’ Cr Chedid said.

‘‘Our primary need is government support for infrastructure to unlock private investment - on-ramps to West Connex, construction of the regional ring road, construction of the western Sydney light rail, better access to Camellia and Westmead, revitalising the river, the stadium precinct and the CBD. This investment, and better access to education opportunities at UWS, TAFE at Granville and Macquarie University will improve jobs for everyone, but most importantly guarantee a bright future for our young people.’’

Mr Gounden, 29, said MTC’s youth connections program, which assists about 350 young people from Parramatta and The Hills Shire each year with problems like unemployment, homelessness, drugs and alcohol, low self esteem and family separation as well as with work skills training, only has federal government funding until the end of the year.

‘‘Hopefully the government does put more funding towards programs like this, even if it's not youth connections, but just towards youth engagement strategies.’’

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