Thursday, August 06, 2009

Finding jobs for young men

Yesterday, just up the road from work, one boy apparently stabbed another boy at 2.30 in the afternoon. This was a second day of school kid disturbances.

I see these kids every day. I also read about boys from minority groups condemned to a life on welfare because they cannot find jobs.

We need to redesign work to people, especially men, not attempt to redesign people to work.

Physical strength, the need to prove one's self physically, are male features. Denied of work that require these things, they form gangs.

Gangs have proliferated across Western Sydney. We say that this is a law and order or, alternatively, a training problem.

Bring in more police, tighten the law, is the law and order response. The training response says give them skills so that they can do what have mainly become office jobs.

Both miss the point. They are trying to make male young fit in. Why not change the system to fit their needs?

I look round Australia's towns and cities and I see urban decay. The same happens in the country, just more so.

Why not create physical jobs that will build things? We can afford it. We don't because we have the wrong models.


Unknown said...

Young men, in my experience, avoid physically-demanding jobs for a few reasons. The first is that any sort of trade job requires enrollment in TAFE. Simply put, it's viewed as a continuation of school.

Second, actually finding an apprenticeship is difficult. There is little (or not enough) incentive for firms or established tradesmen to take on apprenticeships for the duration of their training.

Third, the pay that apprentices receive is abysmal. Looking in the long term, tradesmen end up on good to great salaries (depending their skills, their trade, and the market), but in the short term an apprentice is earning a tick over $5 an hour to buy their tools, TAFE fees, a car and keep it running to get to worksites, and then genereal living costs.

I would think that some youths will look at all this and think it's easier to not even try, or to fall onto welfare (as in your next post). Similarly for those youths who do want to go through all this there isn't always the opportunity available - especially for those remote communities.

I can't imagine that the problem - creating physical jobs - is simply solved by giving more money to employers to take on apprentices or raising apprentice wages, but surely that's a start?

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Thomas. Yes, making trades more attractive is a start. It's also true that some people (like me!)avoid physically demanding jobs.

The remote community problem is another issue. You have to move to do trades.

A further issue is that people don't want to do certain jobs, hence the shortage of fruit pickers. This is partially a matter of changing expectations.

My gut feeling in all this is that if we can make more jobs available then we will help some, but also know what we ahve to do with others.