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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES STANDING COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Factors influencing the employment of young people
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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES STANDING COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Factors influencing the employment of young people
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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES STANDING COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND TRAINING
(REPS-Tuesday, 8 April 1997)
- Committee front matter
- Committee witnesses
Content WindowHOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES STANDING COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND TRAINING - 08/04/1997 - Factors influencing the employment of young people
CHAIR —Welcome to this school forum on the inquiry into factors influencing the employment of young people. The purpose of the inquiry is to consult widely and produce recommendations for government action that will help promote the employment prospects of our youth. The committee has conducted similar school forums in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania. Students and members of the committee agree that the forums are a valuable opportunity to share concerns and express views about this important issue. This school forum is one of a series with students in Nowra and Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, and Sale and Seymour in Victoria. The committee considers the school forum to be an important part of our inquiry process.
So far the committee has received over 100 submissions and conducted public hearings in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, Alice Springs and several regional centres in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. For the most part, the evidence collected has come from employers, government and non-government agencies.
Through this school forum you will all have the opportunity to voice your views and your opinions on this most important matter. The agenda and issues for discussion have been sent to you and you have had prior opportunity to study the issues. Some of the issues we wish to discuss include: the effectiveness and appropriateness of the secondary education system; vocational education in schools; employer perceptions of young people; apprenticeships and traineeships; youth wages; income assistance; and any other issues that you may wish to discuss.
To help structure the debate, I will introduce each section with a few comments based on evidence that has already been provided to the committee. I will then seek your comments and views on the matters under discussion. If you wish to speak, please raise your hand. When you have been given a microphone, please state your name, your age and the school that you are from.
This is a committee of the House of Representatives so we are all members of the federal parliament. It is a voluntary committee. That is to say it is not a government committee; it is made up of members from all the parties, Liberal, National and Labor. My colleagues include Paul Marek from Queensland, Frank Mossfield from New South Wales and Kay Elson from Queensland. I am a Victorian. My electorate is Mount Dandenong in the Dandenong Ranges. James Rees is the inquiry secretary.
You need not be bashful here. There is nothing very formal about all of this, except that it eventually gets written down but that is not going to bite you. The only way we can learn what you think and what your real opinions are is if you stand up and tell us. If you are bashful, we will just sit here and look at each other and you are not here to hear what we think. We are here to hear what you think but we may have to say few things to sort of wind you up so that we can find out what is happening in Seymour, Shepparton and the surrounding area.
The first topic that we like to start with is the school system. Lots of your colleagues in other states and your colleagues in Sale this morning and, indeed, employers and employer bodies, and all kinds of representatives, reckon that in a sense the school system is letting us down or letting you down. There is a view that parents and teachers are encouraging young people to stay on in school and to go onto university. In some places, students have told us that they have been told that there is no other choice: it is either university or the dole. I hope you know that that is wrong.
We know that that is wrong and we are interested in your views about
whether the school system prepares you only for an academic career or only
to be a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist or whether it offers you the
other opportunities that you need for filling careers in many other
industries and in business and commerce in other walks of life. Having said
that, some or all of you may have views about whether the school is
offering you a curriculum that is appropriate to your needs.
Mr MAREK —How do you feel about the schooling system, do you feel as though, when you have completed it, you are getting adequate grammar, numeracy and literacy and those sorts of things? How many of your parents both work--mother and father? It looks like fifty per cent of the people here have parents who both work. What do you want to do when you finish school?
CHANTAL DANIELS —I want to become a physiotherapist when I leave high school and hopefully go to university for about four years.
Mr MAREK —Do you feel as though school is preparing you for that?
CHANTAL DANIELS —I don't know. Sometimes, because it is so small, they do not do the subjects you want. Therefore, you do something else that is not even going to help you become a physiotherapist. So it is preparing me, sort of, in a way.
Mrs ELSON —How many students would like to go on to university? Are there any that don't? What would those who do not want to go to university like to do when they finish their schooling?
BRIONY TOBIAS —I want to join the police force.
ALYSON QUADARA —I want to be an apprentice chef, or something like that.
CHAIR —Why do you want to be an apprentice chef?
ALYSON QUADARA —Because the food industry is getting bigger and bigger each year.
CHAIR —Has anybody told you that there are jobs available as a chef?
ALYSON QUADARA —I have got a job at the moment in the food industry and I enjoy it. I have had no problem in getting part-time jobs in that industry.
Mrs ELSON —Has anybody guided you as to what courses you have to take or where to go to to be an apprentice chef?
—Kind of. I have already been offered an
apprenticeship where I work, but my parents are making me go to school
until I finish year 12.
Mrs ELSON —Have you talked to a careers guidance officer about it?
ALYSON QUADARA —No.
Mrs ELSON —Do you have one at your school?
ALYSON QUADARA —Not that I know of.
Mr MOSSFIELD —What year are you in?
ALYSON QUADARA —I am in year 10.
Mrs ELSON —You have been offered a job as an apprentice now. You could get one?
ALYSON QUADARA —Yes.
Mr MOSSFIELD —One of the criticisms we have had in other areas is that the literacy and numeracy skills of young people are not sufficient. A lot of employers complain about this. What are your views? Do you feel as though your literacy and numeracy skills are strong? What about your friends--do you have any friends who do not have good literacy and numeracy skills and so that might hold their employment opportunities back?
CLARE WALKER —It is assumed that by year 7 you will have a certain level of literacy and numeracy skills and maybe that before you get into high school you should all be on a certain level or try to be taught to be on the same level of literacy and numeracy skills.
Mr MOSSFIELD —Does that mean in the latter years you are not getting much tutoring in literacy and numeracy?
CLARE WALKER —It is just assumed that most people know that. Some people have private tutoring and stuff.
Mrs ELSON —Can I have a show of hands as to who knows some young person who cannot read or write or who is not good at maths? That is not too bad.
Mr MAREK —How many have had part-time jobs? Nearly all, by the look of it. Whereabouts are you working part time?
RENEE JARVIS-PARKER —I work in a supermarket.
—Is it Woolworths or somewhere like that--a big place?
RENEE JARVIS-PARKER —No, not really.
Mr MAREK —Who else does part-time work?
ALISON HENRY —I work in a delicatessen at the Safeway Supermarket.
ALISSIA BARKER —I work at a supermarket and a hotel.
CHAIR —Let us hear from the rest of you.
ALYSON QUADARA —I go to St Mary's College and am 15. I work at Harvest Home, which is a restaurant in Avenel, and also Plunketts Winery, which is also a restaurant.
CHANTEL DANIELS —I go to Yea High School and am 15. I work in the deli at Riteway, Kinglake.
CHAIR —This whole front row had their hands up.
DAVID CHITTENDEN —I go to Seymour Technical High School and am in year 10. I worked as a paperboy for a year. I have been after a number of other jobs but have been unable to get one.
Mr MAREK —How many of you want to do an apprenticeship?
CHAIR —Only a couple.
STACEY BORG —I go to Broadford Secondary College and am 15. I want to maybe do an apprenticeship in the hospitality industry.
Mr MOSSFIELD —What do you feel about apprenticeships? Do you feel they are a good form of employment? Do you feel they will give you a good career after you have finished your apprenticeship? Does anybody have any views? Would you be surprised that three of the people on this forum started our working careers as apprentices? You would be surprised.
Mr MAREK —I am a fitter and turner. Frank is a fitter and turner and Bob was a chippie, weren't you?
CHAIR —A carpenter.
—And Mrs Elson started her career in a printing
Mrs ELSON —Yes.
Mr MOSSFIELD —So we are all people who started work with our hands to start with. But the important point to make is that you do need a broad education because you will probably change your job two or three times, I believe, or more, during your working life. So you need that good basic education so that you can move from one job to another.
Mr MAREK —How many of you feel that the education you are getting now is relevant to the sort of work you want to do when you leave school? The lady at the back mentioned it before, but does anybody else have an opinion about what you are learning? Is it relevant to what you want to do?
JARROD MELICAN —I go to St Mary's College and am 15. Most of what we learn is relevant to most things that people will be going on with. There is a very broad range of subjects.
Mr MAREK —What subjects are you doing?
JARROD MELICAN —We have the standard because we are in year 10. But we have a lot of creative arts subjects through woodwork, art, textiles, graphics, computers and all sorts of things.
Mr MAREK —What do you want when you finish school?
JARROD MELICAN —I have no idea.
Mr MAREK —Move on to university or something?
JARROD MELICAN —Yes.
Mrs ELSON —Those in the room who do not have part-time jobs, is there a reason for that? We would just like to know if it is hard to get a part-time job here or whether that is what you chose. Who does not have a part-time job?
CATHERINE JONES —I go to Yea High School and am 14. I do not have a part-time job because I am not old enough.
ANNETTE FOSTER —I go to St Mary's College and am 15. Where I live, there is no need for part-time jobs--I live out of town. There is only a store and a pub and that is it. There is no access to a part-time job.
—The young people that left school last year that
you know, what sorts of jobs did they go into? You must have known somebody
who left school last year. This is just so we know what sorts of jobs are
ALISSIA BARKER —I go to Yea High School and am 16. I know two guys who left school and they are both doing apprenticeships.
Mr MOSSFIELD —What sort of apprenticeships?
ALISSIA BARKER —Shop fitter and a builder.
Mr MOSSFIELD —Locally?
ALILSSIA BARKER —In Bundoora.
REBECCA WALLIS —I go to Seymour Technical High School and am 17. I have two friends who left school last year and both are doing apprenticeships. One is a fitter and turner and the other is an apprentice chef in Melbourne.
Mr MAREK —Are any of you worried that you will not be able to get a job when you want to get a job? Do not worry--there will be a job there. Are any of you concerned that there will not be jobs for you? Do you feel as though there are not jobs available?
ALYSON QUADARA —One of the reasons I want to go into the hospitality industry is that, with university, if you go to get a job or something, everyone seems to be saying that there are no jobs. Do you know what I mean?
Mr MAREK —Yes, that is a fair comment. I guess you have to look at university as an investment in a career that you want to get involved in. It is surprising--Bob has mentioned it in a lot of places that we have been to--that in the hospitality industry there is a lot of jobs for chefing people, particularly up around the Whitsunday Islands.
CATHERINE JONES —I worry. I want to be a zoo keeper, a zoologist or something like that. There is only one zoo in Melbourne, and I do not know whether I will get into that one. I do not want to move interstate, so there is not much of a chance that I will get in.
CHAIR —Just out of interest, what made you decide you want to be a zoologist?
CATHERINE JONES —I want to study animals and I want to find out how they live and to just work with them.
CHAIR —Is there some particular event in your life that encouraged you in that direction--your parents?
—Yes, I live on a farm. I have always been with
them. I have always had heaps of pets. I just love them.
Mr MAREK —What about veterinary science or something like that?
CATHERINE JONES —I want to work with animals.
Mr MAREK —You want to work with them but you do not want to have to cut them up?
CATHERINE JONES —Yes, but it does not really worry me. I do not want to be putting them down all the time. I want to study them and their habitat. It is hard to explain.
Mr MOSSFIELD —Have any of you thought about interview skills for when you apply for a career entry job which is going to be the job that will lead you into full-time employment? Have you thought about how you should dress, how you should present yourself, what the employer will be looking for when you apply for a job?
DAVID CHITTENDEN —We are doing a careers subject this term. We have gone into all that interviewing business and how to dress and all that sort of stuff. When I thought I might be interviewed for a job that I applied for, I went around and got brochures. There are plenty of brochures and all sorts of information out there that you can get on a topic.
ALISSIA BARKER —Last year and the year before, all the students in our year had mock interviews. They brought in employers from shops in the town and they interviewed us. We had to dress as we would for an interview. We had to go for a certain job. We got evaluated and got a sheet at the end of it. It was good.
Mr MAREK —How many different schools are there in Seymour?
It was indicated that there are two.
Mr MAREK —And they are a Catholic and state school?
Mrs ELSON —Do the other schools have career guidance officers?
All in agreement.
Mrs ELSON —Do you find that they are useful? Do you use them and talk to them?
All nodded in agreement.
—Are they mainly there to guide you to university
courses or to tell you what is available now?
ALISON HENRY —No, we have a wide range. We get shown about TAFE courses, and it is advertised when apprenticeships are on. We do a lot of work with the TAFE. It is a wide range.
CHAIR —What percentage of young people at the school do academic studies, and what percentage do the technical strain?
ALISON HENRY —All the kids in the middle school, up to year 10, do a prac studies. But year 11 and 12 get to choose their own. We do not have to do a prac skills. I am not sure how many do it but there are a few. There is an engineering side and a cooking side. A lot of people do that, those who are interested in the hospitality industry.
CHAIR —The majority of you have a part-time job. Can you tell us how many of your friends and colleagues have tried to get a part-time job and were not successful?
CLARE WALKER —I have a friend who left school about halfway through year 10 and she has tried for heaps of jobs and has not had any success until now. She now has a part-time job as a waitress. She is flying to Perth tomorrow to try and get a job over there. She knows people over there apparently. She found it very difficult to get a job.
Mrs ELSON —How long was she unemployed?
CLARE WALKER —She had been unemployed for probably about two years.
CHAIR —Does anybody else have friends who have tried to get jobs but were not successful? They tell us that youth unemployment is a problem in the region.
ALISON HENRY —A fair few of my friends have gone for jobs and have been unsuccessful the first time. We have three supermarkets in Seymour and they put their names down at all three. If they miss out on one, a couple of months later they usually get a phone call from the other. Everyone else I know who has gone for full-time work has made sure the work is there before they have left school.
CHAIR —So are you telling us that if you want a job you can get a job?
ALYSON QUADARA —Not necessarily. You may be able to get a job but it might not be in what you want to do.
CHAIR —But you could get a job?
ALYSON QUADARA —Probably.
—Generally when you go for a job, it is not
necessarily straightaway. With the supermarkets you may have to wait for
two months, even longer, just for a phone call to get interviewed. So you
cannot necessarily get a job straightaway. It is not as if the jobs are
waiting there, saying, `Yep, come and get me.'
CLARE WALKER —A lot of my friends have tried for a job but they are not determined enough to get it. I do not think they try hard enough to get a job. They could try a lot harder. It really depends on the individual person as to whether they get a job and whether it is in a field that they think they might want to go onto.
JARROD MELICAN —The jobs are out there but you have to be at the right place at the right time, like at the supermarket and other places. I have got a part-time job at a winery and it was pretty much a bit of luck that I got it. Alyson told me about it.
CHAIR —Do you think it is fair that some people are willing to leave school, take unemployment benefits, take the dole, and not work at getting a job? They say, `I'll only take that job or that job. I won't have any job that they give me.' Do you think that is fair? Do you think your parents' taxes should go to pay for that?
JOHN KOSTOPOULOS —There are usually different excuses or problems that people come across when going onto unemployed benefits such as disabilities, no jobs at all, large families or they simply cannot survive on no work or little work at all. A lot of people do take the dole for granted. It may seem that we are picking at areas. There are so many things on the news saying that all of these people are bludging. I think the majority are not taking advantage of the dole but they are making an effort to get jobs. I do not think it is fair that some people are saying, `I do not have to worry about getting a job, I can just get the dole. I do not have to apply for that job at all.'
Mr MAREK —How many people, do you think, are on the dole and getting a cash income on the side from employers?
JOHN KOSTOPOULOS —I would not have the foggiest clue about that.
Mr MAREK —Any ideas at all about anyone who might be on the dole?
CHAIR —Do any of you who have part-time jobs get paid in cash? I see some of you do.
Mr MOSSFIELD —Some employers say to us, and we do not agree with it, that some young people do not have the right attitude for work. How do you feel about that? Is that a fair statement?
—I waitress and I work with people my age. I agree
that some people will come for a job and they just do not have the right
attitude. In my opinion, they do not deserve to get the job. If they do not
have the right attitude, when you are working with them, it makes it harder
for the people who do have the right attitude, and who do want to work and
do the job properly.
Mr MOSSFIELD —If you are applying for a job and the employer sets an interview time of 9 o'clock at night or 6 o'clock in the morning, would you still go for the interview?
JARROD MELICAN —It depends what the job was and whether you really wanted it.
Mr MOSSFIELD —We were told yesterday that an employer actually did this, that he set the interview time at 9 o'clock at night just to make sure the people really wanted the job. Just be alert to that possibility.
Mrs ELSON —Does anyone believe in the work for the dole scheme?
CLARE WALKER —I believe in it because it gives people self-esteem and confidence in themselves because they are getting out there and doing something. Whether or not they want to, they probably do not realise that it is giving them these qualities. That why I think it is good.
REBECCA WALLIS —I pretty much agree with what was just said. I think people who are being paid money to sit around doing nothing should be out there doing something, even if it is just basic community work. As previously said, it helps with skills to perhaps find employment.
ALISSIA BARKER —I am doing it for my issues for my CAT and I have read into it a fair bit. There is one guy who is 32 and has been unemployed for four years. He said that no matter how hard he tries he just cannot get a job. Once they see that he has been unemployed, they will not hire him. He is hoping that with the work for the dole thing coming in, employers will see that he has been working and he might get some experience behind them. So hopefully he will be able to get a job.
RENEE JARVIS-PARKER —I think they should work for the dole because they should not sit around and do nothing. They are getting paid for doing nothing at all. But there are not enough jobs out there for all of us. In a way I do not agree, but in a way I do.
Mr MAREK —Why is it you think that there will not be a job for you?
RENEE JARVIS-PARKER —I do not think there are enough jobs for all of us.
Mr MAREK —What do you want to do?
—I want to work in a morgue.
Mr MAREK —Do you want to work as a funeral director or something?
RENEE JARVIS-PARKER —Yes. I want to work on the bodies.
Mr MAREK —There are jobs there--it is a growth industry.
RENEE JARVIS-PARKER —I know there are jobs for that and I have been offered one.
Mr MAREK —Well, there you go.
JOHN KOSTOPOULOS —I go to St Mary's College and am 15. I think, to me, the whole emphasis on working for the dole means that people will not try to take the easy way out and say, `Oh, I'll just go on the dole.' It actually takes out the easy way out. They may actually have more interest in going for a job they like rather than the government giving them a job and saying, `Okay, you have to do this.'
Mrs ELSON —Can I just expand on that answer. If for some reason you could not get a job after you finished your tertiary education and the government said to you, `You go and choose the job that you want to do in the community,' rather than a career job, `just to fill in your time,' you are quite happy to do some job with some community group?
JOHN KOSTOPOULOS —Yes. The emphasis is then on not only helping yourself with community jobs but also helping other people--for example, working in the homeless shelters and things like that. Not that that is exactly going to be what happens. The whole idea helps people, I think, and encourages people to get social skills and teaches them what it is really like out there in some cases.
Mrs ELSON —It helps you to get to know your community a lot better, doesn't it?
JOHN KOSTOPOULOS —Yes.
Mrs ELSON —Can I have a show of hands of those young people out there who would work in some community group while they were waiting to find a job? About half, that is excellent. The ones who did not put their hand up, can I just know why you would not like to do that? There was a lady next to the young girl there. They are too shy to tell us why. Maybe you could tell me later. I would just be very interested to know why.
—What sort of work do you perceive that you would
probably be doing on a work for the dole scheme? Has anybody got any ideas
on what sort of work you consider is the sort of work you should be doing
on the work for the dole scheme and what sort of work you should not be
JARROD MELICAN —I think it should be work that is helping the community, because it is the other people's taxes that are paying the dole. So we should do things that help the community.
CHANTAL DANIELS —I go to Yea High School and am 15. You asked why people would not help. Why would they? They are not getting paid for it. Why would they want to go out and help the community? They will be there until they get older and then probably move houses. Then they will be totally out of that community, so I do not see why.
CLARE WALKER —I go to Yea High School and am 17. But the community is paying for them to be on the dole, so why shouldn't they put something back into the community as a thank you. They are just sitting there doing nothing.
ALYSON QUADARA —If people are going to be forced to go out and work if they are on the dole, they are not going to be putting 100 per cent into it. If they are there because they do not want to be there, because they are forced to be there so that they get paid, they are not going to work to the best of their ability. They are just going to show up to say that they have been there.
Mr MAREK —What if they then knock the dole on the head and say, `Okay, you didn't work. You didn't turn up, so you won't get the dole'?
ALYSON QUADARA —They can go there and say that they have turned up, but only half do it so it is not done properly.
Mr MAREK —What if the supervisor has the power to say, `This person only did a 50 per cent effort and only gets 50 per cent of the dole'? I am not saying that that is going to happen, but what do you think about that?
ALYSON QUADARA —It probably would work better.
Mr MAREK —What I was going to ask from there is: do you perceive the dole payment to be too much? In some ways, it is almost the same as starting on traineeship or apprenticeship money. Does anybody perceive that the dole is probably too close to a trainee or apprenticeship wage?
ALYSON QUADARA —How much is the dole?
Mr MAREK —It depends, I think, on who you are and what your age is. Do you know, Bob?
—I think it is about $90.
Mr MAREK —About $90 a week, is it?
ALYSON QUADARA —How much is the dole?
Mr MAREK —About $90 a week.
JOHN KOSTOPOULOS —My father is unemployed. He is the only person in the house that works--and in the family there is me, and I have a teenage sister and a younger brother who has not started school yet; he is now in kindergarten. Living off the dole, in that case, is generally not enough because you have to support a large family and meet costs. If people on the dole have had a business, as in our family's case, and it has failed due to competition and stuff like that, you are left in an awful lot of debt and the dole does not help you--you are lucky to scrape by. Generally, you have to get out there and somehow scrape up additional money for costs like that. In some cases it is not enough but in other cases where you do not have debt and stuff like that it is. I think the dole should target areas of how people are living, how old they are, whether they have been employed and stuff like that.
STACEY BORG —I just want to say something to this boy here. The dole is different from what you are talking about, isn't it? Because you are talking about the pension; is that right?
JOHN KOSTOPOULOS —No, it is the dole.
STACEY BORG —It is the dole when you are getting money for the whole family as well?
Mr MAREK —You are both half right. It is not worth going on with. The point is, you are half right. It is not $90 for your parents, but it is on a scale, yes.
STACEY BORG —Thanks.
Mr MOSSFIELD —If you were able to get employment when you are in year 10 or 11, would there be any pressure on you to stay at school and not take that job?
ALYSON QUADARA —There would be pressure on me to stay at school in case it fell through, to have my VCE behind me to back it up.
Mr MOSSFIELD —You can continue your studies, of course, even though you are working.
ALYSON QUADARA —Try to tell that to parents, though.
—Do most of you intend to stay at school until you finish
year 12? The school leaving age now is 16. Legally, the state cannot
require you to stay in school past the age of 16. There have been some
calls to raise that age to make sure that, theoretically, young people get
a proper grounding in all the general areas of education that they may need
just to survive in life and help them go on and have satisfying careers.
What do you think about raising the age? What difference do you think that
would make if we raised it from 16 to 17?
JARROD MELICAN —If it was raised to, say, 17, people would not want to be at school so they would not be trying and could well disrupt the learning of other people who are trying to learn.
DAVID CHITTENDEN —I think, at the age of 16, some people are not quite mature enough to make that important decision. If it was raised, maybe then they would be old enough to make an important decision like that.
STACEY BORG —I think, if the age is raised to 17, people would do their VCE and then on their resumes it will say that they have done their VCE. You can get jobs if you do your VCE. If you finish school when you are 16 and in year 10, you probably won't get a job. Doing your VCE will mean that it is easier to get a job.
CHANTAL DANIELS —She is saying they are just going to quit. Most of the time, the people who quit school when they turn 16 or 17 normally go to an apprenticeship--they have a reason to quit school. Most boys probably quit to go to apprenticeships such as fitting and turning.
ALYSON QUADARA —If people are not academic--not good at learning and stuff--why make them stay at school if they could be out in the work force?
Mr MAREK —Can you see the other side of the coin: at least if they are at school they are stimulating their mind, rather than sitting at home in front of a TV? I heard somebody say at the last place we were at that they are made to do PE in grades 10, 11 and 12 and they do not want to do PE; they would rather have a free class to sit down and do some extra study or something. There are those who fall behind because they are not motivated. Can you see that stimulation can help to keep people moving? You never know, they might get that chance if they are in the right place at the right time. Do you understand that that could be one of the reasons?
ALYSON QUADARA —But if they are not academic and they have apprenticeships to go to or can go into the work force--I do not know any people who have left school at 16 to go on the dole.
—I appreciate that. I would not mind going on with that.
If you are, say, in grade 10 and you have just turned 16 and you can get an
apprenticeship, you would leave school then to take on that apprenticeship,
wouldn't you, rather than being concerned about the fact that if the
apprenticeship falls over you will not have done your year 12? Does that
make sense? Would everybody take that apprenticeship?
ALYSON QUADARA —In my opinion, I would like to take the apprenticeship, but I would be forced to do my VCE because of my parents.
ALISON HENRY —I think by making them stay in school they are just going to be disruptive.
Mr MAREK —That is a good point.
ALISON HENRY —The senior years are too important to the people who are there because they want to learn and they might want to go on to do TAFE or something. By the others being there they are just taking up the teacher's time, they are taking up other students' time and it is not fair for the other students who are there because they want to be.
CLARE WALKER —Also, I know some people in this room do a hospitality course at TAFE, and that is for not just academic people. They learn practical skills. That is a school, yet that is not totally academic. So people who are not academic could go to a TAFE and do some sort of course like that.
MATTHEW FOWLER —I am doing a hospitality course. It is hospitality level 4. I am also doing my VCE. I am doing them both so I can get the best of both worlds. It goes for three years and, if I decide after the three years that I do not want to go on in that particular area, I still have my VCE and my grades to go on to other areas.
CHAIR —You are in school here?
MATTHEW FOWLER —Yes.
CHAIR —Is that because the tech does not offer hospitality, it does not have the facilities to teach it? Is that why it is offered at TAFE?
MATTHEW FOWLER —We do have it here, but if you do it at TAFE you do a broader area of it.
CHAIR —So you have got it here but you reckon doing it at TAFE gives you an extra qualification?
—Once I have finished I will have a level 4
certificate. If you try to get a job in the hospitality area without the
certificate, you have to try harder to get the job. I know of adults who
are doing the hospitality course that I am doing and they have a job in the
hospitality area. One lady is a mess manager and she cannot go any higher
than that because she does not have a piece of paper to say she can do it.
That is what you need.
CHAIR —Just so that you know, we have talked to the hospitality industry training board and the tourism industry training board, amongst many others, and jobs for cooks and chefs are available all over Australia. As I recall, the deficit in chefs is 1,000 at the moment nationally. At the moment 1,000 chefs are desperately needed around Australia. The industry cannot fill the jobs. There are many regional places in Australia where they need cooks and they cannot find good cooks. If you have ever been to Broken Hill you would wish that they would hire decent chefs in the town. It has fantastic potential as a tourist town, but it is hard getting a really top feed. You get a steak and an egg and some chips, but that is about it. So you should go for it. You have got fantastic career opportunities in front of you, I can tell you that.
Mr MOSSFIELD —Are there any plumbing industries in the town? There are. Has anyone approached the local plumbers to see if there is any opportunity of getting apprenticeships? That is what needs to be done. Whatever industry is existing in a location, the idea is to approach those organisations to see what employment opportunities there are.
CLARE WALKER —There is Armstrong's Plumbing just down the road. Someone from my school went there for work experience, not for an apprenticeship, and I think there is a possibility that they could get a job after they finish school, but they are finishing school first.
Mr MOSSFIELD —With that example of work experience leading to a job offer, has that happened quite a bit in other industries in the town?
DAVID CHITTENDEN —We had work experience with our careers class this term. A girl who did work experience for the heated pool in Kilmore got a job in the same week that she was doing the work experience there. I think that does happen quite a bit.
Mrs ELSON —Have other students here done work experience in their term of going to school?
DAVID CHITTENDEN —Everyone does.
Mrs ELSON —What year do they do that?
DAVID CHITTENDEN —In year 10, generally.
—I did work experience last year at a funeral
parlour. They told me about a three-year embalming course that I could do
when I leave school. They also offered me a job there then. The only thing
that stopped me taking it was my parents. They want me to finish VCE before
I do anything else.
CLARE WALKER —A friend of mine did work experience in year 11 last year at an advertising company down in Melbourne. He was offered a job while he was there and they used one of his designs for one of their products. So he has got a job offer ready now. He is only in year 12.
ALISSIA BARKER —Last year I did work experience at Mount Bulla at the Chalet Hotel. The boss of the restaurant there offered me a job for the ski season. I knocked it back because I wanted to get my year 12 behind me for future jobs.
CHAIR —Why don't we try a slightly different topic. Is there a McDonald's in town? No. Okay, but you have got KFC. You should know that in some industries, like the retail industry and parts of the hospitality industry and the tourism industry, there are age based wage rates. So you get paid one rate if you are 16 and you get more when you are 17 and more when you are 18. What do you think about that system? Is it fair? Do those industries exploit young people? Does it provide you with opportunities that you would not have otherwise? What are your views on all that?
JARROD MELICAN —As you get older, you are more likely to have more experience. You try and take on a job when you are 15, and if you stay through until you are 17 or 18, then you will have more experience, you will probably be able to get the work done faster, so you are of more value to them and so they will pay you more.
ALYSON QUADARA —I disagree with that because where I work I do the same the job as an adult and I get paid half as much. I get more hours because I can do more for the same price as an adult.
CHAIR —Do you think that is fair?
ALYSON QUADARA —I think it is unfair that I can do the same work as someone else but at half the price.
CHAIR —Would you have gotten the job if they had to pay you the full adult price?
ALYSON QUADARA —I don't know.
—I disagree with younger people being paid
less. I can go into a job and not know what I was doing but someone else
who is, say, 30 can go into the same job, have never done the job before
and get paid more when they know exactly the same as me. You barely know
anything about the job but they get paid more for it.
ALISON HENRY —I go to Seymour Technical High School and am 17. I think it is unfair that you get paid less when you are younger. Where I work, I sometimes have to train older women in my area. So I am more skilled than them. I have been there since I was just under 15 and the women who are just starting are 20 to 30 and getting a better wage than me and I am actually training them to do a job. I think that is unfair.
CHAIR —That is fascinating. That is doing what? I have forgotten.
ALISON HENRY —I work in the delicatessen at Seymour.
Mrs ELSON —Have you asked for more money?
ALISON HENRY —No.
CHAIR —Are you frightened to ask for more money?
ALISON HENRY —Yes.
CHAIR —Do you think they would sack you simply because you suggest to them that you are training new people and that it is worth something for doing that training?
ALISON HENRY —No, not so much. I am scared that they would cut back my hours or get someone else who could train them and not worry about the money.
ALYSON QUADARA —I recently got offered to work more hours where I work. I said I would do it only if I got paid the same amount as an adult because that was the responsibility I was taking, and they agreed.
CHAIR —So you are not being paid less now?
ALYSON QUADARA —No.
CHAIR —So what are you complaining about?
ALYSON QUADARA —I have two jobs where I do the same thing. In one I am getting paid adult wages and in the other I am getting paid according to my age group.
CHAIR —Does anybody else want to say anything about youth wages?
BRIONY TOBIAS —I think it should not go on age but on experience.
—Singapore has no unemployment--zilch. There is no such
thing as being unemployed in Singapore--so I am advised. They have no
formal wage structure system at all. There is no minimum wage rate. So an
employer can offer 1c an hour or nothing. The theory is that nobody will
take a job for pay which is less than what they are really worth. Under
that system they have full employment. We have a system of safety nets
where people not only have minimum wages that are set by tribunals but
also, as you know, if you do not have a job you also get a minimum rate.
What would you think of that system?
JARROD MELICAN —I think the minimum wage should be decreased so that younger people would be able to get the jobs easier because they are offering less money.
CHAIR —But your colleagues are complaining that the age base rates are already too low.
JARROD MELICAN —No, for other jobs--easier jobs, smaller jobs.
CATHERINE JONES —I go to Yea High School and am 14. I went to Singapore and saw older people walking around doing really dirty things like scrubbing bins at McDonald's. They do not look like they are being paid at all. They are just yuck.
CHAIR —So you do not think anybody should have to clean the bins?
CATHERINE JONES —No, I am saying that they should be paid a certain rate because it didn't look like they had been paid more than 10c.
DAVID CHITTENDEN —I believe that if the youth wage was at an adult rate, then in a way you would be taking the money which could be going to an unemployed family or an unemployed person. I don't think that would do anything for the economy.
Mr MAREK —So you consider that getting your certificate for higher education is extremely important compared to getting an apprenticeship? I want to go down this track a bit further. Someone said that your parents probably would not let you leave. Is that right? Do you all consider it that way? Say you had just started year 11 or you had just finished year 10, you would take on an apprenticeship or a traineeship or something, wouldn't you? Does everyone feel that way?
BRIONY TOBIAS —I think that if I was offered a job, not even depending on whether it was what I want to do, I would not take it because I would rather finish school so that I knew that if it fell through I could go on to uni or do something else.
ALISON HENRY —If I was offered an apprenticeship in an area that I was interested in I would take it. At least that way I would be getting the skills in the area that I am interested in, instead of staying at school where I might not be getting the same level of skill.
—I think it depends on what you are aiming to do
in life for a job or career. If you are going to become a doctor, you would
have to go through school and on to university. But if you are doing
something like bricklaying or carpentry or something like that, you would
have the choice there of dropping from school early where schooling may not
be useful to you in any way. Do you know what I mean? It depends whether
you know you have the job and you will have it for a while or whether it is
a `here today, gone tomorrow' type of thing.
CATHERINE JONES —I think it depends on what you want to do. If I wanted to be something like a chef and I got asked to do an apprenticeship I would probably do it because I am only doing VCE because I want to be a zoologist and I have to finish sciences and everything like that. But at school I am not doing anything really to do with animals. I am doing science and that but you do not do anything you really want to do, so I am just sort of finishing it because I have to.
CHAIR —Is there anything else that any of you would like to bring up? We've been asking you heaps of questions. What issues would you like to raise with us that you think we should know about in order to be able to write a report to help make you more employable or to help make more jobs available for you and your colleagues? What do you reckon?
CATHERINE JONES —I think there should be more practical days when you could go out and play sport or go out and look at a restaurant, depending on what you want to do. There should be more practical areas and definitely more work experience.
REBECCA WALLIS —I am little concerned about what has been in the media lately about the HECS fees rising. Is that happening? Have they risen? Are they staying where they are? Are the HECS fees rising?
CHAIR —They did last year.
REBECCA WALLIS —In regard to that, I think they should be lowered to enable students to pursue academic studies.
Mrs ELSON —The HECS fees only get paid once you do your course, once you get a job. You do not have to pay them up-front.
REBECCAWALLIS--In some private colleges and universities you do have to pay up-front.
ALISON HENRY —With the HECS fees, if you pay early you get a discount. I think that is a bit unfair because, in a way, you are paying for your diploma. It is unfair that the people who do not have as much money but equally--if not, more--deserve to be there miss out because they cannot afford it.
—They can pay later once they get a job.
ALISON HENRY —I think Melbourne uni makes them pay HECS fees in a lump sum at the start.
CHAIR —They cannot do that. Melbourne University have so many places they can offer and which the government finances. They can offer places beyond that, just like they can offer places to overseas students. They could offer 10,000 new places a year, which is not that many.
Mr MAREK —1,500.
CHAIR —No, more than that.
Mr MAREK —Really?
CHAIR —Heaps more. Let us say it is 5,000 new places a year at Melbourne University that the government is financing them to offer. Beyond that, they can say that they will accept lower cut-off scores in some subjects--lower TER scores or VCE results--and accept those students who are willing to pay for the course.
There is a limit to government funds, and that is what funds HECS and universities. They are simply saying, `We will take more students.' They take in foreign, overseas full-fee paying students and they are saying that they will take in some more Australian full-fee paying students if they want to pay, but they do not have to. That is what that was all about at Melbourne University.
Mr MAREK —Do you understand that HECS is seen by the taxpayers of this country as the taxpayers investing in you to get an education to become, say, a doctor? When you have finished your education and you are a doctor, you may have the capacity to earn half a million dollars or $1 million a year or something--say, $200,000 a year. Whereas somebody else might buy a truck or become a tradesman and will have the capacity to earn only $40,000 or $60,000 a year. As far as the taxpayers are concerned, the amount of HECS you pay should vary depending on the job or career you want to take. Do you understand that it is your responsibility rather than the taxpayers' responsibility for HECS? I want to know how you feel about that.
CHAIR —It is part of the cost of providing a tertiary education, not all of it.
—I want to make a personal comment here. I have a
daughter who is 29. If that system was not available years ago when she
started uni, she would not have been able to go to uni. At that particular
stage, I could not afford it. If she did not have that opportunity, she
would not be in the position she is in today. She took taxpayers' money to
get herself through that education, and she was only too happy to pay it
back over the next seven years, I think it was. The opportunities are
there. We do not tell anybody that they cannot have an education or cannot
Mr MAREK —A career as a doctor might cost, say, $20,000, or whatever it is.
Mrs ELSON —It is actually $33,000 a year.
Mr MAREK —Okay. Whereas an engineer or somebody on an income that may earn less involves a considerably less amount of money. You understand that that is why they have staggered HECS, don't you?
REBECCA WALLIS —With regard to HECS fees, some people might be deterred from taking tertiary studies by the fact that later on, for the next seven years, they will still have to pay money for the studies that they had pursued. Although it is unfair that the taxpayers pay for their education, having to pay back that money for the next seven to 10 years might act as a deterrent.
Mr MAREK —I do not think that taxpayers begrudge at all the fact that you want an education and the career of whatever it is you want. I pat you on the back; I think that is fantastic--you go with that. All I am saying is that it is not unreasonable for those people who are doing high profile education and education that may earn them hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay slightly more for that, rather than the taxpayers having to subsidise them.
REBECCA WALLIS —But, at the same time, those people who do not find employment immediately will have that debt hanging over their heads a few years down the track. Once they are living out of home, they have rent and bills and all of that sort of stuff. If their job is only paying them enough to live on, they are going to have that debt for quite a long time.
Mrs ELSON —It is not repayable unless you earn over $20,500 per year, and it is only a very small percentage. I think it is 2 1/2 per cent. My daughter paid something like $1,000 a year out of her tax return. That is a very small price to pay for an education and to have a future, especially when it would have cost the taxpayers around $30,000 to educate her to that standard because I could not afford it at the time.
Mr MOSSFIELD —There may be a problem in the lower wage field--not if you are going to become a doctor. To be a nurse, you have to go to university now, and to be a teacher you have to go to university. They are not necessarily high paying jobs--not in the true sense of the word. You can understand people in that wage bracket having difficulties in repaying it.
Mrs ELSON —My niece is a nurse and she is on $44,000 a year. So nurses are not low income like they were years ago.
CHAIR —Thank you very much for coming. We intend to continue with this tour and to talk to other students around the country and to a couple of more organisations. We will finish our inquiry at the end of June. In August, early September, we will write our report and we will certainly send you a copy. In the meantime, Hansard has been doing a terrific job of recording who you are and what you had to say. We will send you transcripts. If you think they got it wrong, you can fix it up.
Resolved (on motion by Mr Marek):
That the committee authorise the publication of evidence given before it at this school forum this day, including publication on the electronic parliamentary database of the proof transcript.
Forum concluded at 4.32 p.m.
Tuesday, 8 April 1997
Mr Charles (Chair)
Mrs Elson Mr Mossfield
The committee met at 5.24 p.m.
Mr Charles took the chair.
CHAIR--I declare open this public hearing of the inquiry into factors influencing the employment of young people. The purpose of the inquiry is to consult widely and produce recommendations for government action that will help promote the employment prospects of young people.
The committee has received over 100 submissions and conducted public hearings in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, Alice Springs and several regional centres in Queensland and New South Wales. The committee has also conducted school forums, including one in Seymour today, in which young people discussed their views and opinions with the committee.
The committee is now conducting public hearings in rural and regional centres in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. This meeting is one of a series in Nowra, Merimbula, Sale, Seymour and Wagga Wagga which will give Australians outside the capital cities an opportunity to put their views and concerns to the committee.
This is a very broad ranging inquiry. Matters raised in submissions so far include the attitudes of young people; the work ethic of young people and their familiarity with the requirements of the workplace; the adequacy and relevance of the education and training systems; the importance of developing better linkages between schools and the business sector; the need for a more flexible industrial relations system; and the effectiveness and efficiency of government programs to assist young people to find employment.
That is not meant to be an exhaustive list of issues the committee will
consider or which might be raised. We are entirely open to the views of
everyone who wishes to make an input to the inquiry. We are here to listen,
to learn and to help improve the prospects of young Australians.