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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2005  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/01/2005   
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Young people in employment

Many people enter the work force for the first time between the ages of 15 and 24 years. Some combine employment with ongoing study while others spend time seeking employment or working in a variety of jobs. The income from work provides an important economic resource for the individual, while employment itself presents an opportunity to develop work and social skills.

This article looks at the participation of young people in the labour force and how they combine work and study. It also looks at the occupations and industries in which young people work.

Young people are more likely to be employed than unemployed or not in the labour force. In 2003-04 there were 2.8 million young people (aged 15-24 years) with over half (62%) of them in employment. Employment for young people can be quite different to that for older people, and is often characterised by lower paid jobs, less skilled occupations, and less job security. (footnote 1)

In 2003-04 more than a quarter (29%) of young people were not in the labour force (i.e. neither employed nor unemployed). Three-quarters (76%) of young people not in the labour force were in full-time education. Less than one in ten young people were unemployed (8%). This pattern was similar for both young men and young women.

Young people in the labour force

The labour force participation rate for young people (aged 15-24 years) in 2003-04 was 70.6%, a small decrease from 1983-84 (71.3%). During this time the participation rate for young people peaked at 72.0% in 1989-90, with a low of 69.1% in 1992-93. In contrast, the participation rate for all people aged 15 years and over increased slightly in the 20 year period (from 60.5% in 1983-84 to 63.5% in 2003-04).

Young people are more likely to be employed than they were 20 years ago. Since 1983-84, the proportion of young people in employment has increased from 59% to 62% in 2003-04. Over the same period the proportion in unemployment has decreased from 13% in 1983-84 to 8% in 2003-04. In addition, there were changes in the number of hours that young people worked, with a shift away from full-time to part-time employment consistent with higher rates of participation in non-compulsory schooling. In 1983-84, 82% of employed young people were in full-time employment, compared with 54% in 2003-04 (table 6.26).

Of all employed young women in 2003-04, more than half (55%) were employed part-time, up from 24% in 1983-84. In contrast, 37% of young men were employed part-time in 2003-04 compared with just 12% in 1983-84. By the time people reach their late-20s and early-30s they are less likely to be working part-time. In 2003-04, only 9% of employed males aged 25-34 years worked part-time, compared with 35% of employed women in that age group.


6.26 LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE(a)

1983-84(b)
2003-04(b)


Units
15-19 years
20-24 years
Total aged 15-24 years
15-19 years
20-24 years
Total aged 15-24 years

Labour force participation rate(c)
%
60.5
81.7
71.3
60.1
81.1
70.6
Unemployment rate(d)
%
23.3
13.7
17.7
15.7
8.9
11.8
Employed(c)
%
46.4
70.5
58.7
50.7
73.9
62.3
Full-time(e)
%
71.9
88.7
82.2
33.5
68.7
54.4
Part-time(e)
%
28.1
11.3
17.8
66.5
31.3
45.6
Total employed
'000
593.8
936.8
1,530.6
701.0
1,029.1
1,730.2
Total unemployed
'000
180.3
148.6
328.9
130.7
100.5
231.2
Population
'000
1,278.7
1,328.1
2,606.8
1,383.3
1,393.3
2,776.6

(a) Civilian population aged 15-24 years.
(b) Annual average.
(c) As a proportion of the civilian population in that age group.
(d) As a proportion of people in the labour force.
(e) As a proportion of employed people.

Source: ABS data available on request, Labour Force Survey.


Work and study

Changes in the pattern of full-time and part-time employment undertaken by young people are closely related to their increased participation in non-compulsory education and their growing tendency to combine work with study. There are a range of ways in which work and study can be combined, depending on the priorities of the individual. However, the combination of part-time work with part-time study is uncommon among 15-24 year olds, suggesting that one activity, either employment or study, tends to take precedence in their life.

In May 1984, 60% of all employed part-time workers aged 15-24 years were participating in study, increasing to 75% in May 2003. Young people who were employed part-time and who were studying, were most likely to study full-time. Of those employed part-time in May 2003, 79% of 15-19 year olds were studying on a full-time basis, while 55% of 20-24 year olds were studying full-time (graph 6.27).

Graph 6.27: PEOPLE EMPLOYED PART-TIME, By student status - May 2003



Many young people employed full-time in May 2003 were not studying (65% of 15-19 year olds and 82% of 20-24 year olds). By the time people reach their late-20s and early-30s, those working full-time are even less likely to be studying (89% of full-time employed 25-34 year olds in 2003-04 were not studying). Almost all people in these age groups who worked full-time and studied, undertook their study on a part-time basis (graph 6.28).

Graph 6.28: PEOPLE EMPLOYED FULL-TIME, By student status - May 2003



Occupation

Reflecting their lower levels of work experience and educational attainment (as most are still gaining their qualifications), the occupations in which young people are employed are generally less skilled. Such occupations characterise teenage (aged 15-19 years) employment in particular.

The most common occupations for people aged 15-24 years in 2003-04 were in clerical, sales and service work. Almost half of employed people in this age group (48%) held jobs in either the elementary (27%) or the intermediate (21%) clerical, sales and service workers occupation groups.

Teenagers were more likely to be working in occupations which offered part-time jobs and jobs which require lower levels of skill. In 2003-04, 55% of employed part-time workers aged 15-19 years were employed as elementary, clerical, sales and service workers. For 20-24 year olds, 32% of part-time workers were employed as elementary, clerical, sales and service workers and 31% in the more highly skilled intermediate, clerical, sales and service workers occupation group. Those aged 20-24 years were more likely to be employed full-time.

Full-time occupations for teenagers are generally ones which lead to a skill or further qualification such as apprenticeships or traineeships. In 2003-04, 35% of employed full-time workers aged 15-19 years were employed as tradespersons and related workers. Full-time occupations for 20-24 year olds are spread across a wider range of occupations as they move out of further education and begin their careers.

Young women made up 70% of 15-24 year olds employed in the elementary and the intermediate clerical, sales and service workers occupation groups. Young men, on the other hand, were more likely to be in occupation groups such as tradespersons and related workers (in 2003-04, 89% of all young people in this occupation group were men), intermediate production and transport workers (88%), and labourers and related workers (76%) (table 6.29).


6.29 MAJOR OCCUPATIONS OF EMPLOYED YOUNG PEOPLE(a)(b) - 2003-04

Age group (years)

15-19
20-24
Total 15-24



Occupation group(c)
Units
Full-time
Part-time
Full-time
Part-time
Full-time
Part-time
Total

Elementary clerical, sales and service workers
%
14.8
54.7
9.6
32.2
10.9
45.4
26.8
Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers
%
18.0
15.2
20.7
30.7
20.1
21.6
20.8
Tradespersons and related workers
%
34.8
1.9
22.3
3.9
25.3
2.7
14.9
Labourers and related workers
%
16.2
18.2
9.9
12.3
11.4
15.8
13.4
Professionals
%
2.1
1.5
14.0
7.2
11.1
3.8
7.8
Other(d)
%
14.1
8.5
23.4
13.7
21.1
10.7
16.3
Total occupations
'000
225.4
463.6
700.3
324.9
925.8
788.5
1,714.3

(a) Civilian population aged 15-24 years.
(b) Annual average of quarterly data.
(c) Classified according to the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations.
(d) Includes: Associate professionals; Intermediate production and transport workers; Advanced clerical and service workers; and Managers and administrators.

Source: ABS data available on request, Labour Force Survey.


Industry

In 2003-04 the five most common industries employing young people aged 15-24 years accounted for 70% (1.2 million people) of all their employment. Young people were most likely to be employed in the retail trade industry, with just over a third (34%) employed in this industry, followed by accommodation, cafes and restaurants (10%), property and business services (10%), manufacturing (9%), and construction (8%) industries.

As stated previously, young people tend to work in industries offering part-time jobs, and in jobs which require lower levels of skill. In 2003-04 almost 70% (402,600 persons) of young people employed in the retail trade industry were working part-time. In contrast, young people who worked full-time were employed across a range of industries (table 6.30).


6.30 MAJOR INDUSTRIES OF EMPLOYED YOUNG PEOPLE(a)(b) - 2003-04

Age group (years)

15-19
20-24
15-24



Industry(c)
Units
Full-time
Part-time
Full-time
Part-time
Full-time
Part-time
Total

Retail trade
%
25.0
62.4
17.9
34.9
19.6
51.1
34.1
Accommodation, cafes and restaurants
%
5.5
12.4
5.8
18.0
5.7
14.7
9.8
Property and business services
%
9.3
4.2
13.9
9.1
12.8
6.2
9.7
Manufacturing
%
14.8
2.7
12.7
3.5
13.3
3.0
8.5
Construction
%
16.6
1.5
11.9
2.7
13.0
2.0
7.9
Other(d)
%
28.8
16.9
37.8
31.8
35.6
23.1
29.8
Total industries
'000
225.4
463.6
700.3
324.9
925.8
788.5
1,714.3

(a) Civilian population aged 15-24 years.
(b) Annual average of quarterly data.
(c) Classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification.
(d) Includes: Health and community services; Personal and other services; Cultural and recreational services; Wholesale trade; Education; Agriculture, forestry and fishing; Finance and insurance; Transport and storage; Government administration and defence; Communication services; Mining; and Electricity, gas and water supply.
Source: ABS data available on request, Labour Force Survey.


Endnotes

1 Wooden, M & VandenHeuvel, A 1999, 'The labour market for young adults', Australia's Young Adults: The deepening divide, Dusseldorp Skills Forum, Sydney. <Back

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