Many young Australians in need are missing career progression opportunities

At Bridges we’re proud to partner with The Smith Family, a national children’s education charity that works with children and young people to overcome educational inequality caused by poverty.

As an evidence-based organisation, they help children in need to create better futures for themselves through long-term support for their education. The Smith Family regularly conducts research on topics related to disadvantage in Australia and how to better support young Australians, and their families, experiencing poverty.

Recently, The Smith Family shared a longitudinal study on the post-school transitions of young people experiencing disadvantage. The Pathways, Engagement and Transitions (PET) report focuses on young people who were in Year 12 in 2020, and looks at what has changed and what has remained constant in the first two years of them leaving Year 12. Findings revealed that, while the vast majority of the young people surveyed are engaged in work or study, they are missing out on career progression opportunities, which could have long-term consequences for their futures.

Head of Research and Advocacy at The Smith Family, Anne Hampshire, said that while this high level of engagement is positive, she is worried about the employment challenges these young people are facing, especially in the current economic environment.

“Having left school during COVID-19 and now facing significant cost-of-living increases, these young people are particularly vulnerable in the labour market. Many were working in precarious, low-wage roles, with unclear career progression opportunities,” said Anne.

The report identified many opportunities to strengthen post-school pathways of young people experiencing disadvantage. Some of these opportunities identified were:

  • Greater individualised support to help students complete Year 12.
  • An expansion of high-quality career-related remunerated work placements, cadetships and internship programs which target young people experiencing disadvantage.
  • A focus on intentional career development learning throughout school and beyond.
  • Prioritising young Australians in national and state/territory employment policies and programs including helping those experiencing disadvantage to build meaningful career pathways.
  • Strengthening young people’s access to timely and affordable mental health services.

The Smith Family found that young people are working hard to secure their futures, but more needs to be done to ensure they can get ahead. “With help from governments, business, educational and training institutions and organisations like The Smith Family, we can better support young people to fulfil their potential, with the benefits flowing not only to young people themselves but the whole community,” said Anne.

The Smith Family believes every child deserves the chance to be their best – no matter their circumstances. They continue to listen and work with students, families and others to learn, adapt and improve how they support the education of young Australians in need for the long haul.

Read more about the PET Report and its findings here.