The Business Council of Australia has backed research calling on schools to provide more support for disadvantaged young people to make realistic plans that match their work aspirations.
BCA Chief Executive, Ms Katie Lahey, says the findings of a Smith Family survey project are groundbreaking in that they identify for the first time the views of students at the stage when they make critical decisions about the direction of their learning and work plans.
The Smith Family report, Junior Secondary Students’ Perceptions of the World of Work, highlights that fewer than 50 per cent of years 8 and 9 students surveyed were taking the right education path towards the jobs they wanted. However, 70 per cent of these young people expected to get their preferred jobs.
Ms Lahey said a key priority of the BCA – which represents 100 of Australia’s top companies – was improving education and training outcomes for all Australians.
The research highlights that young people are making decisions about future training and employment without adequate information.
“There are too many young people at risk of unemployment because they are not aware of the career opportunities available through apprenticeships and other forms of training,” said Ms Lahey.
The Smith Family research will contribute significantly to community, business and government understanding of the policies and actions needed to assist all young people to make the most effective transition into further education, training and employment.
The research also reinforces earlier work undertaken by the BCA including The Cost of Dropping Out report, which called for more intensive efforts by governments to tackle the problem, which by 2020 could cost the Australian economy $2 billion a year in lost productivity as well as higher welfare and other social costs.
Ms Lahey said access and motivation to participate in high-equality education and training meant not only better prospects for low-income Australians in finding permanent and satisfying jobs, but would also increase the overall skill level of Australia’s workforce to compete in the world economy.
“Effective transition planning to support young people as they move from school to further education and training and employment is an essential step in ensuring young people are able to effectively participate in the world of work,” she said.