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For at least the past century, Australia’s promise to our young people has been that education is their ‘golden ticket’ to a full-time job. That promise is now at risk. Since being launched in 2015, the Foundation for Young Australians’ (FYA) New Work Order report series has provided insights into the evolving world of work and the skills young people need to develop in order to navigate these changes.

The reports highlight the transformational changes affecting the way we work and live. Technological advancement and global trends are changing the nature of work, the structure of economies, and the types of skills needed by labour forces across the world. The reports revealed that the average transition time from education to work is 4.7 years compared to 1 year in 1986. We wanted to look more deeply into this period and what young people could do during this time to accelerate their transition to full-time work.

Following the journeys of 14,000 young people over ten years, from ages 15 to 25, our sixth installment in this series, The New Work Reality, reveals that young Australians face a number of significant barriers when seeking full-time work. When we removed common activities that young people do, such as gap years and returning for further education to look more deeply at the period we found it took on average 2.6 years to transition from leaving education to full-time work.

The reality is while nearly 60% of young Australians aged 25 hold a post-school qualification, 50% of them are unable to secure more than 35 hours of work per week.

The report highlights that young Australians, whose voices are often absent from debates about education, training and employment, lack confidence about their working futures. Among 18 to 24 year-olds looking for work, 28% reported anxiety in the previous year and more than 40% said they were affected by stress.

Through comparing the journeys of young people who have secured full-time work compared to those who haven’t, the report identifies four factors that can accelerate the transition from full-time education to full-time work.

The report offers unique insights into how young people are feeling about work, putting their perspectives at the centre. While the new reality of work presents risks, there are also significant opportunities for young Australians. To take advantage of these opportunities we need to ensure every young person is equipped for a lifetime of learning, diverse ways of working, and the hearts and minds to help build the future.

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