THE Wimmera has the third-highest youth employment rate in the state, despite the national unemployment level rising.
Strong demand for agricultural graduates is helping to underpin the region’s youth employment.
New data from the Brotherhood of St Laurence shows youth
unemployment now sits at 12.2 per cent nationally – up from 8.8 per cent in 2008.
In Victoria, the Hume region has the highest rate, with 17.5 per cent of youth unemployed,
followed by north-west Melbourne 14.8 per cent and Warrnambool 14.5 per cent.
The north-west region, which includes Horsham, the Grampians, Mildura and Swan Hill, has a 9.3 per cent unemployment rate – the lowest in the state after Shepparton, 6.1 per cent, and Ballarat, 9.2 per cent.
Wimmera Development Association executive director Jo Bourke said more Wimmera businesses were taking on apprentices and trainees.
“Those entry level jobs are really important for young people – it’s about keeping them on career paths,” she said.
Mrs Bourke said the strong agricultural industry also contributed to strong employment rates.
“This is reflected in the record number of enrolments at Longerenong College,” she said.
“More young people are seeing agriculture as a pathway.
“We are lucky in this region because we have the strength of the retail sector in Horsham, as well as a range of jobs across the region in agriculture.”
Last year, all the graduating students from Longerenong College secured employment by the time they finished studying.
College general manager John Goldsmith said 2013 was the eighth year in a row that all graduates had gained employment.
He said the trend was because of demand in the agricultural industry.
“It is indicative of the number of jobs that are on offer in the industry,” he said.
“There are six jobs available for every graduate.”
Mr Goldsmith said there were 40 graduates last year.
They secured jobs across the state in farming or agribusiness roles.
Brotherhood of St Laurence executive director Tony Nicholson said the national data showed a crisis
that Australians could not afford to ignore.
“Youth unemployment as high as 21 per cent in some areas of our country is a scandal for our young people, our communities and our economy,” he said.
“It’s a disaster for our young people who want to work but are getting locked out of the workforce and locked into welfare dependency because they have no choice.
"It’s a disaster for our young people who want to work but are getting locked out of the workforce and locked into welfare dependency because they have no choice."
“It’s a disaster for communities, leading to more homelessness and despair for young people and their families.
“It’s time to invest now in our young people so they can contribute to society.”