Unemployment in the Richmond-Tweed region stood at 6.0 per cent in January. Admittedly this is .8 per cent below the same time last year but it is still .8 per cent higher than the state average. And we can assume that youth unemployment is well above that figure.
So it is encouraging that Byron Shire Council has chosen Youth Week to host a forum on the subject, set to take place at the Byron Bay Community Centre next Tuesday, 17 April, from 10am.
Forum convenor Belle Arnold told Echonetdaily the idea came from the Byron Shire Youth Council.
‘Initially they wanted to run a campaign around youth unemployment but came to the idea of a forum with a panel of speakers to look at what the current situation is for young people, what opportunities are out there and where the gaps are,’ Ms Arnold told Echonetdaily.
Byron, with its pristine beaches, appreciation of music and youth lifestyle focus, might seem like an idyllic place to grow up. But if young people can’t get work, they just aren’t going to hang around however much they love it here.
And Ms Arnold added that young people in the area are not just looking for seasonal hospitality jobs but long-term meaningful employment.
The forum’s first session will set the scene, looking at the situation as it is, with a speaker from Byron United, the mayor and members of the youth council speaking.
A second session will give businesses, community organisations, service providers and employment agencies the opportunity to present what projects they’re working on to help young people into work.
‘A lot of people have initiatives going on, so this way we can see what’s already happening rather than reinvent it,’ Ms Arnold said.
‘For example, just in the process of planning the forum ACER told us they have money for training but don’t know how to get to young people. At the same time we have young people looking for training but not knowing how to access it. So an important part of it is about building pathways between providers and young people.
‘The final session will be looking at where the gaps are and how to address them. How do we fill that gap, and what funding or resources are available to do that?’
Ms Arnold said she’d had a lot more enquiries than usual for such an event but there is still plenty of room for young people who want to come along. People are encouraged to book for catering purposes but they’re welcome to just show up if they are able to.