Lismore businesses want better transition for young workers.
Lismore businesses want better transition for young workers.

Why youth unemployment rates are still too high

LISMORE businesses are calling for a better transition for young people entering the workforce directly from school, after The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed 8.7 per cent of youth are unemployment in the Tweed-Richmond area.

Despite the youth unemployment rate dramatically improving, going from 17.4 per cent in January 2016 to 8.7 per cent in December last year, candidates for the seat of Lismore - Nationals candidate Austin Curtin, Labor candidate Janelle Saffin, Greens candidate Sue Higginson and Independent Greg Bennett - told the Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday they wanted to see better pathways into the workplace for young people.

Ms Higginson said young people were not seeing any opportunities because the transition between school and the workplace wasn't supportive of their needs.

"Where we are failing the most is the career path transition in schools," she said.

"At both ends, we are failing our youth in assisting them and we don't have enough entry level jobs and one of the reasons is that we've massively cut back on government services that once were thriving in this region.

"The parliamentary research is that the reason we have such high youth unemployment and under employment is because of the lack of government investment. We need to accept that we have a transitioning economy here in the Northern Rivers. We have gone from a very strong agricultural base and we are moving quite rapidly towards more of a service base. We need firm government investment.

"We need to not follow failing trends. We need to keep hold our agricultural base, we need to innovate it and build it."

But Mr Curtin defended the government's investment in the region, stating the Lismore Base Hospital upgrade was providing plenty of jobs.

"The continued reinvestment to bring in new trainees and give kids a chance is critical," he said.

"But we need to get a connection between school and employment to be stronger and connect our local youth with employers so we have a better transition for people of school age to employers.

"In the next term of government we have advocated a minister for rural youth, which will give kids a rural voice at the cabinet table."

NSW Business Chamber's Northern Rivers Regional Manager Jane Laverty welcomed the candidates' commitment to supporting youth employment but a lot needs to be done.

"These issues continue to be a priority for the electorate," she said.

"Our youth unemployment figures sitting at 8.7 per cent and while that's a bit lower than the state average, it's still a high number."