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Paid Work: Young People in Employment
While the proportion of 15-24 year olds who were employed increased from 57% to 60% between 1983 and 2003, this was mainly attributable to a rise in part-time employment among this age group. There has, in fact, been a decrease in the proportion of young people in full-time employment (particularly marked among 15-19 year olds), consistent with higher rates of participation in non-compulsory schooling. In 1983, 82% of employed young people were in full-time employment, falling to 53% in 2003.
In 2003, the proportion of all young people in full-time employment increased with age, from 15% of those aged 15-19 years, to almost half of 20-24 year olds, and almost two-thirds of people aged 25-34 years.
Between 1983 and 2003, the proportion of all people in paid employment who were working on a part-time basis increased from 17% to 29%, consistent with an overall increase in the participation of women in the labour force (the majority of part-time workers are women: 71% in August 2003).
The youth labour market has seen an even greater increase in part-time employment, experienced by both young men and young women. In 1983, 18% of employed young people aged 15-24 years were working on a part-time basis. By 2003, this had increased to almost half (47%) of employed people in this age group (794,000 young people). Those aged 15-19 years experienced the largest increase in part-time employment (from 28% to 68% of employed people of this age). The rise in part-time employment was less marked among employed people aged 25-34 years (from 15% to 21% over the period).
PEOPLE EMPLOYED FULL-TIME, By student status - May 2003
PEOPLE EMPLOYED PART-TIME, By student status - May 2003
WORKING AND STUDYING
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. Combining these activities may assist young people to identify career options and develop work skills, and/or allow them to fund their education and living expenses. There are a range of ways in which work and study can be combined, depending on the priorities of the student. However, the combination of part-time work with part-time study was uncommon among 15-24 year olds, suggesting one activity, either employment or study, tends to take precedence in their life.
Many young people employed full-time in 2003 were not studying (65% of 15-19 year olds and 82% of 20-24 year olds). By the time people reach their late twenties and early thirties, those working full-time were even less likely to be studying (89% of full-time employed 25-34 year olds were not studying). Almost all people in these age groups working full-time and studying undertook their study on a part-time basis.
For young people aged 15-24 years employed part-time who were studying, full-time study was the more common type of study. Of those employed part-time, 79% of 15-19 year olds were studying on a full-time basis, while 55% of 20-24 year olds were studying full-time.
PEOPLE EMPLOYED PART-TIME WHO WERE UNDEREMPLOLYED - AUGUST 2003
Not all young people working part-time necessarily do so from choice. Some are working part-time as longer hours or full-time positions are not available. In August 2003, 12% of part-time workers aged 15-24 years were actively seeking more hours of work, and were available to work more hours. A smaller proportion of 15-19 year olds (11%) were in this situation than 20-24 year olds (13%).
Young men aged 15-19 years who were working part-time were more likely to be actively seeking more hours of work, and available to start more hours, than young women in the same age group (13% compared with 8.7%). However, underemployment decreased slightly for men aged 20-24 years (12%), and increased for women in this age group (14%). As they moved past their mid-twenties, women were less likely than men to be underemployed (7.4% of women aged 25-34 years compared with 19% of men in this age group).
Reflecting lower levels of educational attainment and work experience, the occupations in which young people are employed are generally less skilled and hence less well paid than those of older employed people. Such occupations characterise teenage employment in particular.
The most common occupations for people aged 15-24 years in 2003 were related to clerical, sales and service work. Almost half of employed people in this age group (47%) held jobs in either the Elementary, or the Intermediate, clerical, sales and service workers occupation groups. In comparison, only 26% of people aged 25-34 years were in these occupation groups. Some examples of occupations included under these broad groups are: office trainees; food and drink sales assistants; checkout operators and cashiers; street vendors; telemarketers; and sales and service trainees.
Part-time employment is common among young people working in these occupation groups. Of 15-24 year olds employed as Elementary clerical, sales and service workers, just over three-quarters (78%) were working part-time, while half of those employed as Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers were part-time. Part-time work was also relatively common among 15-24 year olds employed in the Labourers and related workers occupation group (56%), and those employed in the Intermediate production and transport workers group (47%).
Tradespersons and related workers made up the third most common occupation group for employed young people, with 13% of 15-19 year olds and 17% of 20-24 year olds employed in this occupation group. Part-time work was much less common among 15-24 year olds employed in this occupation group (8%).
Young women tended to dominate clerical, sales and service work. Women made up 70% of 15-24 year olds employed in the Elementary, and the Intermediate, clerical, sales and service workers occupation groups. This pattern continued for women aged 25-34 years, who still dominated the Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers group, as well as the Advanced clerical and service workers group.
Young men, on the other hand, dominated occupation groups such as Tradespersons and related workers, Labourers and related workers, and Intermediate production and transport workers.
In 2003, the five most common industries employing young people aged 15-24 years accounted for just over 70% of all their employment. They were most likely to be employed in the Retail trade industry, with just over a third (34%) employed in this industry. The other four most common industries collectively accounted for another third of young people's employment (37%).
Just over half of employed 15-19 year olds were in the Retail trade industry (51%), compared with slightly less than a quarter of 20-24 year olds (23%). In contrast, only 12% of employed people aged 25-34 years were employed in Retail trade, with employment more evenly spread across the range of industries.
People aged 15-24 years tend to work in industries offering part-time jobs and jobs which require lower levels of skill. In 2003, almost three-quarters (71%) of young people employed in Retail trade were working part-time.
Young people may move between jobs for voluntary reasons. For example, this may assist them to further their careers and/or adapt to changing educational commitments. On the other hand, movement between jobs may be involuntary, or linked to less secure employment. In the twelve months to February 2002, some 443,500 people aged 15-24 years had changed jobs in the previous 12 months (23% of those who had worked at some time in this period). In changing jobs they may have changed employer, work location, or both.
While 19% of 15-19 year olds had changed jobs, the 20-24 year age group were the most mobile, with 26% changing jobs in the previous 12 months. The level of job mobility decreased after the mid-twenties, with 20% of people aged 25-34 years having changed jobs in the twelve months to February 2002.
MEAN WEEKLY EARNINGS IN MAIN JOB - AUGUST 2002
A slightly higher proportion of young women aged 15-24 years changed jobs than men of this age (20% of women compared with 19% of men aged 15-19 years; and 27% of women compared with 25% of men aged 20-24 years). However, in their late twenties and early thirties, men were more likely to change jobs than women (21% of men compared with 18% of women aged 25-34 years).
Compared to older employed people, young people often earn less, reflecting lower levels of work experience and skills; and, particularly among teenagers, lower levels of educational attainment. In August 2002, young people aged 15-19 years had the lowest mean weekly earnings of all full-time employees, $395 compared with $854 for full-time employees aged 25-34 years. For part-time employees aged 15-19 years, mean weekly earnings were $124.
However, young people may receive considerable material assistance from parents and family. For example, in keeping with the longer duration of the transition from education to a career, an increasing number of young people are remaining in the parental home, where their living costs are reduced (see Australian Social Trends 2000, Young adults living in the parental home, pp.39-42). In addition, some young people may be eligible for various forms of government income support.
1 OECD 2000, From initial education to working life: making transitions work, Paris <http://www1.oecd.org/publications/e-book/9100021e.pdf>, accessed 16 December 2003.
2 Wooden, M and VandenHeuvel, A 1999, 'The labour market for young adults', Australia's Young Adults: The deepening divide, Dusseldorp Skills Forum, Sydney.
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