As it stands, Australia has a youth unemployment rate of 12.6 per cent, which is uncomfortably high. Countries such as Japan, the US and New Zealand are doing better than us with employing young people. So why don’t Aussie young people have jobs? Do we not want to work? Or is there a lack of jobs available?

There’s a whole range of reasons that youth aren’t working. Some are ill or unfit to work, others are off travelling and many are spending their time on home duties or looking after children. Some people are holding out for the right job while others are simply disengaged.

But the most concerning issue is that young people are more educated than ever before, yet they’re finding it harder than ever to find jobs. And while university graduates are struggling hard to enter the job market, there is a national skills shortage for apprentices. So let’s break this down…

Why can’t graduates get jobs?

On average, it takes almost 5 years for graduates to go from education to full-time work. Back in 1986, the average was one year. Essentially, there are a lot of people graduating from university seeking work in really competitive industries. This means that there are only a few jobs available, and they get snapped up by the highest achieving students, or the ones who’ve graduated some time ago and had the chance to do an internship or two. There’s an oversupply of workers and an undersupply of jobs in many industries.

The need for apprentices

In trades, the problem couldn’t be more different. There are plenty of roles for young apprentices, but there’s a lack of people who want to take them up. The National Skills Needs List shows the array of jobs that Australia needs–from bakers to carpenters to boat builders. Some have blamed the economy for this, while others blame universities. Whatever the reason, the amount of commencing apprentices in Australia has halved since 2012.

The solution?

The solution here seems simple. We just need to encourage more young people not to go to university and convince them to get trades instead. But this is easier said than done.

While tradespeople are generally well paid and have more job security than university graduates, working a trade can be hard to sustain for an entire lifetime. It can be hard on your body, and trades aren’t for everyone. But the main issue is in peoples’ attitudes. It seems that most people view university as more attractive and safe option than TAFE, even if this isn’t really true. Put simply, society holds the white-collar worker in higher regard than the blue collar.

Meanwhile, graduates struggle to find work, tradespeople are desperate for apprentices and unemployment is stagnating.

Luckily, there are plenty of initiatives out there that are trying to help change the face of youth unemployment. Our new fave is the Housing Industry Association (HIA), who operate an apprentice Group Scheme. This means that HIA Apprentices employs and carefully matches apprentices to host trainers who need an extra set of hands in the trade they’re after. HIA Apprentices will help you make a smooth transition from school to the workforce and will be with you every step of the way with all the support you need, including mentoring and training.

Plus, the support doesn’t stop once you’re qualified. As Australia’s top residential building, renovation and development industry association, HIA provides tradies  with valuable information and services to further develop their careers and businesses. So, whether you’re just starting out as an apprentice or you’re already a seasoned tradesperson looking to get even more qualified, HIA has the training courses to suit your needs.

If a trade in the building industry is something you’re interested in, don’t feel like you have to go to university just because everyone else seems to want to. In fact, you could potentially be better off going the trade route anyway. If you want to see what apprenticeships HIA has on offer, you can see the list here, or you can find out more about them and the training courses they offer on their website.