Finance Work The fading reality of full-time jobs, especially for young workers

The fading reality of full-time jobs, especially for young workers

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Don't expect a full-time job if you're young, expert warns. Photo: Getty
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My dad is semi-retired and he loves his job. He’s in his early 60s and often takes long lunches and half days, and he’s OK with making up the hours early in the morning or late at night.

When I was first starting to work he would remind me that I should work to live and not the other way round. He would warn me against getting too busy at work, that I shouldn’t forget to do the things I love.

For him, starting work in the 1970s, a full-time job was guaranteed. More than five in every six people worked full-time, and those who worked part-time were almost entirely women.

The workplace I find myself in is dramatically different.

My research is showing that most young people are unlikely to work full-time for most of their working lives. To keep the quality of life we have become accustomed to we are likely to be working two part-time jobs or one with contracting on the side. Now that’s work-life balance.

Sixty per cent of all new jobs being created are part-time. Since 2010, 20-somethings like me are facing an average decrease of 1900 full-time jobs every month.

I’ve been lucky to have worked in professional environments since leaving school. After finishing uni I pulled my skills together and became a contractor.

It’s not the same for most of my friends.

One friend who was whip smart and worked professionally all through uni struggled to get a reasonable job for 10 months after she graduated.

That’s a more extreme case, but most of my friends are waiting about four months before they get a job that actually uses their skills effectively.

I know what you’re thinking, that maybe my friends should have done a trade rather than go to uni. But it is no better for them either.

In a recent speech, Luci Ellis, the assistant governor of the Reserve Bank, highlighted that recessions heavily impact teenage boys’ prospects. Full-time jobs for boys aged 15-19 decline faster than a rollercoaster, and she suggests it may have something to do with a lack of apprenticeships on offer.

She highlights the key issue facing the economy, especially in regard to young people. We have a situation that, while employment is growing, it is opportunities that are diminishing.

Young Australians are starting their careers in a vastly different environment to their parents. Most of us don’t have any idea how to navigate it.

We are likely to work part-time, even though most of us don’t want to. Three in every four men looking for work want a full-time job, and a similar situation exists for young people.

Last year Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said there was nothing wrong with a part-time job.

I’m a big fan of flexible working and extending more opportunities for better ways of working, the problem is that our working culture is based on stable, full-time jobs that pay well.

That is an increasingly distant reality, yet the way we think about work hasn’t changed.

This lack of stability will test us all, especially my generation.

Click here to read workforce expert Conrad Liveris’ in-depth research of the labour market faced by young Australians.

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