Are young people being properly prepared for the ‘gig’ economy?

When we started Student Edge in 2003, one of our main goals was to help make students more employable, and find them work that’s both rewarding and fulfilling.

Our mission hasn’t shifted since those early days. However, the employment landscape has changed significantly.

Student Edge’s market research arm, YouthInsight, in partnership with frontline youth service ReachOut, recently surveyed more than 1,000 young people (aged 16 to 24) and found that 45 per cent were not confident, or were unsure, of finding work in their chosen career after completing studies. Forty-six per cent were fairly confident, yet only nine per cent were very confident of finding work.

(Read more about our findings in the Sydney Morning Herald’s report, “Not enough jobs for science graduates challenges STEM hype”.)

Our survey also asked young people what changes needed to be made to help them find work. Seventy-four per cent said there needed to be more opportunities for paid internships and training positions, and 72 per cent said more jobs needed to be created for young people. A further 58 per cent said learning skills to support job applications, interviews and career management would help, while 55 per cent wanted more support to develop skills in problem solving, critical thinking, communication and teamwork.

“The platform economy, driven by services like Uber and Airtasker, is on the up as is a shift towards short-term contractual work or ‘gigs’ and freelancing,” says ReachOut CEO Ashley De Silva in response to the findings.

“With this new data showing that so many young people are uncertain about their future, it’s clear that we need to have a robust public conversation around what new skills and training are needed to provide the greatest chance of success.”

We concur. The fact is, anyone hoping to help young people get a job needs to make sure those young people have the right skills for the current climate. That’s why we’ve rebuilt our website to emphasise a ‘Get Job Ready‘ checklist and prioritised ‘life skills’ in our online learning platform, Student Edge Learning, with more enhancements planned for the future.

Based on our research, ensuring young people are taught career management skills is essential to meet both employer requirements and to prepare students for a future that will involve multiple jobs and career changes. However, as we embark on that mission, we also need to ensure we’re caring for young people during this fraught period of uncertainty.

“This lack of confidence is about the future, but it affects the mental health of young people right now,” reiterates De Silva.

“The uncertainty that surrounds the transition from study to work means that it is a priority to look at how we can best support the mental health and wellbeing needs of young people. We also want young people to know that support is available for them at”

How can you support young people not only in the future, but right now?

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