Almost one in five young South Australians doesn’t have a job.

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data, the rate of unemployment among our State’s 15 to 24 year olds is 17.5 per cent, a rate which also – appallingly – happens to be the highest for youth unemployment in the country.

This is not new news, and a community and sector desire to continually rehash the problem, finger-point at governments, employers or young people, has not seen a rate reversal in more than nine years.

The reality is that young people DO want to work, and if given the right opportunities and the right support, they actually WILL work.  And, they will STAY in work and become valued employees.

How do we know this?

Because we have been designing programs that specifically target getting young people into work, and by providing in equal measure support to employers (who may have previously experienced challenges in employing young people) and to the young people.

We have studied overseas to see what has worked in other countries in getting young people employed, and taken from those learnings the practices that could be applied in Australia.

The result of such research is our innovative pilot program Sticking Together.

The Sticking Together Project reflects the reality that we can’t fix the problem of youth unemployment by just relying on government support. Government support is essential, no question, but we cannot fix this problem without the crucial involvement of employers, who provide the jobs and the work experience.

Without them our young people don’t get to learn how to be good employees, and they don’t get to experience the self-worth that comes from earning their own money.

Sticking Together is just one of the ways SYC embraces this reality and works with 21,000 young Australians annually to transition from education or inactivity into work.

Young people need different support to older workers, and our collaboration with employers has shown us that with the right support, employers are willing to put in the time and resources required to create jobs when they see the benefits of young workers in their business.

Accusations of who’s at fault or continual navel-gazing at the youth unemployment rate does nothing to create genuine entry level jobs for young people needing experience, confidence and lasting attachment to the Australian labour market.

SYC will continue to actively work with all stakeholders to provide a bridge to join young job-seekers with employers.

After all, would you rather see our younger generation develop a lifetime of gainful employment or a lifetime of poverty and welfare?