Blog: How can young Australians respond to the global job market? 3 takeaways from the G20 Youth Summit

Blog: How can young Australians respond to the global job market? 3 takeaways from the G20 Youth Summit

The global job market is changing. One of the key macroeconomic challenges of our time is reducing the rapidly increasing youth unemployment rates. Some 75 million young people are currently out of work. The effects of this are being felt across the developed and developing worlds.

As one of the three main themes of the G20 Youth Summit, held in Istanbul on 16 to 21 August, reducing youth unemployment rates requires multilateral cooperation and smart domestic policy making. Because how we go about empowering people in the job market varies depending on local context.

For young Australian’s responding to the increasingly global labour market, there are some key strategies that can be adopted to get ahead. Here are my three takeaways from the Summit that will place Australian’s at an advantage in their careers.

1. Be entrepreneurial
The global job market is changing. Historically, work meant that we would study, and then that study would lead to a job, and then that job would pay us money. We then used that money to live. Young people today grew up in the 80s and 90s valuing an education because we believed that knowledge and training led to a job. But times have changed. We can no longer trust this premise. What this means is that the job market demands for young people think with an entrepreneurial mindset. This is not to say that we must be the next Richard Branson, but that we must remove the square that we were trained to think within.

In today’s world, we must develop an employment strategy early in our university education. Once that strategy is defined, we then need to adapt our strategy and to leverage opportunities. Whether that be to start a business or secure employment, an entrepreneurial mindset is critical to getting ahead.

2. Love technology

We no longer need to think of technology in terms of efficiency, but in terms of its potential for access to opportunities.

A few years ago, I co-authored a paper that talked about the opportunity of discouraged workers. Working empowers people, but people need to be empowered to work. And in today’s job market, technology holds the key to empowering people who previously found it challenging to work in a traditional job.

For example, in Australia disability welfare recipients are often willing and able to work. While one may have limitations from certain types of employment, those limitations need not exclude them from others. The same line of thinking can be applied to home-based primary care-givers. As society has not responded to empowering this cohort in traditional workplaces, those people must adapt to meet the today’s economic demands. 
Both of these are examples of when technology can be used to empower those previously excluded from the job market. Technology enables people to participate in emerging job markets (think Airbnb and Airtasker). It means we no longer need to be tied to a desk in a bricks and mortar office space.

Loving technology is of particular importance to women, who have traditionally made the binary work/family career decision. The macroeconomic potential of home-based women is enormous, and technology can help us to do that.

3. Learn another language

Ok, so you have probably heard this one before. But Australians are linguistically challenged when compared to our foreign peers. Fortunately, times are changing, and younger cohorts are increasingly bi-lingual with approximately half of Australians born overseas. However, the Gen Ys and Millennials are still struggling.

At the G20 Youth Summit, I heard people speaking in three, four or even five different languages. I felt culturally inferior. I felt that I missed out on important diplomatic discussions. I missed the nuances in English dialects. And most importantly, I missed out on experience. Yes, all delegates spoke English, but I believe that by only communicating in English we are narrowing our view of the world. Furthermore, imagine the possibilities that we create for ourselves, whether political or entrepreneurial should we speak another language?

As uni-lingual Australians suffering from the legacy of the White Australia policy, it is not our fault. But we must adapt.

The future is not English; the future is multilingual.

What do you think? I would love to hear your comments on what young Australians can do to enhance their employability in an increasingly global job market?

Erin xx

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