Investing in Youth Employment Conference – I don’t understand the apparent aversion to Gen Y workers

My public whinge in the SMH opened up more doors than I ever expected it to (ok, let’s be honest, I thought it would not only close all the doors, they would also be locked) – and one of those has been an invitation to attend the Y Foundation’s Investing in Youth Employment conference, to be held in Sydney on the 19th and 20th of September. The theme of the event is promoting employment in marginalised youth, but they certainly haven’t limited the program to just the disadvantaged, as even many of us who seem to have many advantages are struggling with youth unemployment too.  (Afterall, no one could’ve predicted I would end up on welfare for as long as I was! And I honestly believe I was stuck in a system and that made me appear to be damaged goods to most employers.)


I never expected youth unemployment to be my schtick – I was always about women’s and gay rights, because these were things I knew, being an incredibly camp (albeit, unexpectedly heterosexual) woman. But sixteen months unemployment in two years changed things and I added ‘youth unemployment’ to my little list of causes I like to loudly complain about. Because when you’re promised, that with higher education, a string of part time jobs and a little guts, you can have the world – it’s a bit of a shock to be kicked in the face by the system that made the promises in the first place.

I never asked for my dream job to be my first job, I don’t think any Gen Y graduate did and I think it’s naive to say that we expect our dream jobs straight away. But I did expect a job wouldn’t be that hard to come by, especially after all my little internships and stints in work experience. Is it wrong to expect a job after ALL the work I put into doing everything society told me to do? I don’t think so. Isn’t that half the reason we invest so much time and money in a university education in the first place? (and for some people, the only reason)

So yeah, while I do have a job now (thanks whingey article in the SMH), this is still something I hold close to my heart – because my getting a job because I made myself the centre of the nation’s attention for one day doesn’t solve the greater issue out there: 17.7% of Gen Y are unemployed and even more of us are underemployed. There are also many people my age who don’t have any qualifications, are at risk of homelessness and are far more deeply embedded in the system than I ever was – if I struggled to get out, how hard must it be for them? Why is this issue ignored?
So when Y Foundations contacted me, I jumped (ok, I asked my boss if it was ok first and then I jumped – because it is a weekday conference) on board. I am so excited for this conference.

For a start, Professor Gonski (yes, of the Gonski Plan) is opening the conference and if his education reform plan is anything to go by, the man probably has a really interesting speech planned for the conference.

Dr Lucas Walsh will be talking about the myths and realities of youth employment, which I have highlighted as a ‘must see’ on my program. I’m keen to check out the session on getting the best out of young workers and you’ll find me front and centre for the talk about what employers actually want from their young employees.

There’s a thousand other things happening and I’ll link to the website at the bottom so you can see them – but as I will be ducking in and out of work to attend, I have to choose the sessions I attend carefully. I want to get the most benefit out of it for me and you, my readers.

I’m glad this issue isn’t just being swept under the rug. If we’re not careful, today’s unemployed twenty-somethings are unemployed, homeless thirty-somethings, draining the system and being a massive burden on society. That, or we’re all still stuck in entry-level jobs. Either way, eventually, there will a massive knowledge and skill shortage when Gen X and the Baby Boomers start to retire. So something’s gotta give, sooner rather than later please.

I can’t wait for the conference, I hope it’ll teach me how to be a better job seeker, employee and contributor to society and how we can all work towards ending this extreme unemployment in an economy that isn’t actually that bad people! SERIOUSLY! Our economy is basically almost fine, stop being so stinge!

If, like me, this all sounds exciting and educational, you can check out the conference’s website and buy tickets by clicking here or on the image below.


*Disclaimer: I was invited to attend the conference as a guest (ie: free), but all of the above is 100% my own thoughts and feelings and any further posts on the conference will also be 100% my own thoughts and feelings. I will be live-tweeting from the conference using my Twitter handle: @georgetweets2u