Watching my friends studying expensive degrees at university towards one day landing their dream jobs, I am worried about the chances of that happening. These days, employers seem to want qualified candidates with years of experience, but also want individuals as young as possible to keep wages as low as possible – they cannot have both.
In an age where managers like to have a mountain of options when they need an extra staff member, it’s becoming harder and harder to land a secure part-time position, let alone a full-time job. It’s not uncommon for someone my age to be juggling 3 different casual jobs, and education on top of that.
It took me about two years to land a job, and I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve been a casual worker in retail for a couple of years, and I’ve learned a ton of valuable skills and enjoyed the majority of my time there. However, the most frustrating part is not having permanent hours or set shifts, and therefore, no permanent income. Some weeks I’ll be put on for 8 shifts, others I’ll only work one or two.
I have attempted to apply for more jobs on top of my current one in an effort to have a substantial weekly income, but I’ve found that because my employment type means I quite regularly get called in to work last-minute, employers seem to be put-off at the possibility of my shifts clashing, and would rather put on a younger, cheaper school-goer.
This extract from an article discussing data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests that Australia’s youth unemployment rate is high due to time-related underemployment;
“The figures… indicate that the level of difficulty for young people in accessing adequate hours of paid work is indeed high… In short, the challenge today is less to do with the quantity of jobs and more to do with the quality of the jobs available for young people.”
I am currently studying part-time in hopes of securing a career in my preferred industry of work, content production in radio. The problem I’ve encountered is that, particularly in the media industry, companies only want to hire applicants with a minimum of 2 or 3 years experience in commercial radio. Every time I receive another rejection email stating that they’ve found a “more suitable applicant”, I sit back and ask myself, ‘How am I supposed to even GAIN experience when I can’t get my foot in the door to start with?!’
Unless I’m a full-time student at a prestigious university studying journalism, work experience as a part-time student is almost impossible to get, with terms like “legal responsibilities” and “insurance claims” being used as an excuse to ward off eager students keen to learn and desperate to make an impression. While I completely acknowledge the relevancy of covering a work-experience volunteer with the appropriate insurance, it seems that unless you’ve won a season of Big Brother or already built an audience around yourself, a considerable amount of employers, particularly in the media industry, aren’t willing to take their chances on a fresh-out-of-school applicant. Peter Cappelli accurately depicts my frustration in this article from The Washington Post;
“..if everyone is hiring for the ability to do a job, rather than for the potential to do it well, how does anyone get that initial experience?”
Employers need to choose between employing more expensive, older candidates with a lifetime of experience, or take on some younger employees that are cheaper to pay but require some training. Until they decide what they want, it looks as though this employment struggle is just going to continue.