Government leaders are being urged to think outside the box as the Wide Bay’s youth unemployment levels continue to soar.
Government leaders are being urged to think outside the box as the Wide Bay’s youth unemployment levels continue to soar.

Gympie’s youth unemployment hits staggering level

GYMPIE businessman Justin Lippiatt is urging the region's state and national leadership team to think outside the box to find a solution to the area's staggering high youth unemployment problem.

Figures from the Queensland Government have revealed the Wide Bay youth unemployment in July this year was 25.6 per cent, making it the state's second-worst area behind Toowoomba.

This was 7.1 per cent higher than at the same time last year, when the rate sat at 18.6 per cent, and more than 10 per cent above the state average.

Chamber of Commerce member Justin Lippiatt says fixing the youth unemployment problem may require “unconventional solutions”.
Chamber of Commerce member Justin Lippiatt says fixing the youth unemployment problem may require “unconventional solutions”.

And while COVID no doubt has had an impact on the figures, the Queensland Government Statistician's Office said data used was a 12-month moving average and "is not recommended

regional labour force data be used to assess the impact of COVID-19".

Mr Lippiatt, a member of the Gympie Chamber of Commerce, said the problem was "heritage, community-based". To find a solution, he said people may need to "unthink" it.

"I wonder if we've got to step outside the box … and find unconventional solutions to a traditional problem," he said.

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"I know there's work out there … but there seems to be a disconnect (with the potential workforce)."

Help was needed from all three government tiers to turn the problem around, though, with barriers existing to things like marketability, technological barriers and simple demographic reality.

The Wide Bay’s youth unemployment rate hit 25.6 per cent in July, more than 10 percentage points higher then the Queensland average.
The Wide Bay’s youth unemployment rate hit 25.6 per cent in July, more than 10 percentage points higher then the Queensland average.

Mr Lippiatt said something like a call centre, which would offer work for "school leavers to 55-plus", would fall foul of the lack of 5G and telecommunication connectivity in the region.

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Pointing the blame at government was unlikely to help solve it, he said.

"(The problem) exists … it is what it is."

Gympie had great assets like USC and TAFE, and businesses willing to move here; there needed to be an eager workforce, too.

"Sometimes you just need skilled employees … you have to find these individuals that are prepared to step up."

Gympie Times


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