The number of entry-level jobs has collapsed by 50% in the past 15 years, a new report shows

The number of entry-level jobs has collapsed by 50% in the past 15 years, a new report shows
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  • The time it takes for young people to move into full-time employment after graduating amounts to an average of 4.7 years, a new report conducted by PwC has found.
  • The report calls out a broken pipeline between vocational training and the ability of employers to provide training on the job.
  • It comes amid a raft of initiatives aimed at addressing a shortfall in skilled workers post-pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Entry-level jobs have collapsed by 50% over the past 15 years, a new report has found, with the failure to provide pathways for young people moving into work falling with employers.

The report, conducted by PwC, Social Ventures Australia and the Apprenticeship Employment Network, showed that young people are finding it increasingly difficult to get a foot in the door, with the time taken to move into full-time employment after graduating amounting to an average of 4.7 years. 

The research also suggested employers were contributing to skills shortages by not investing in the kinds of training that led to entry-level jobs, resulting in a broken pipeline for skilled workers into the workforce.

While the report said cost was the most significant barrier to employers taking on young employees, the complexity of the market for training programs combined with short-term, ad hoc government programs even further discouraged companies from engaging younger employees. 

At the same time, job opportunities are declining for young people, who are experiencing increased unemployment, a reduction in average working hours and a decline in income. 

“Employers told us that they want to see better-designed incentives, more coherent and comprehensive intermediate support and a quicker return on investment when they hire young people,” the report stated. 

Despite skills shortages in areas that require vocational qualifications, many young people struggle to find roles that allow them to learn on the job, the report noted. 

It found that although wage subsidies could be highly effective, pointing to the government’s pandemic $2.4 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program, on the whole government programs were almost temporary or disconnected from industry. 

The report said employers needed more coherent support measures to help navigate vocational training systems and work-based learning programs, particularly in cases where apprenticeships are not prevalent.

It also called for government procurement and contracting to drive skills development and jobs for younger workers.

Lisa Fowkes, director of Social Ventures Australia, told the Australian Financial Review that the current framework disincentivised employers from bringing in workers without a university education, placing this cohort at a further disadvantage.

“Employers can’t find skilled workers so they use their existing skilled workers more and those people become busier,” Fowkes said.

“That makes the problem worse because if they take on a young worker or apprentice, their existing skilled workers are too busy to train and support them,” she said. 

“So we end up in this cycle where skill shortages become self-perpetuating.”

The report’s findings come amid a resurgent focus on investment in vocational training by state governments seeking to fill skills shortages caused by the pandemic. 

In March this year, former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the state would launch a new tertiary education institution blending features of university and TAFE that was geared toward ensuring courses would be more responsive to employer need and demand.

It came in response to a suite of reforms recommended following a government-commissioned year-long review of the vocational education sector.

One of the key recommendations to come out of the report was a need to better consult with industry experts on VET course curriculums, and to improve the quality of vocational education. 

In October the NSW government launched its Jobs Plus Program, along with an extension of its JobTrainer skills training program as part of a raft of initiatives aimed at accelerating the state’s economic growth post-pandemic. 

NSW has pitched the programs as a government-supported pipeline for job seekers to organisations looking to expand in the state. 

“By investing in a skills-led recovery, the NSW Government is not only future-proofing jobs but ensuring people have the right skills to plug current shortages as the economy emerges from the pandemic,” Premier Dominic Perrottet said.