ARMIDALE is among the state’s top 20 hotspots for youth unemployment.
Statistics just published by the Bureau of Statistics found 18 per cent of youths aged 15 to 24 in New England were without a job.
Worse still, the district’s youth unemployment rate is rising.
Data showed youth unemployment in New England in January, 2014 was 13.8 per cent and in January, 2015, it was 16 per cent.
The national youth unemployment rate is 12.2 per cent.
Armidale’s youth workers yesterday expressed concern at the underlying trend in youth unemployment.
BackTrack founder Bernie Shakeshaft said he was alarmed by the statistics.
“We need to be doing something different,” Mr Shakeshaft said yesterday.
“Years ago, there were traineeships and apprenticeships, however, there are less opportunities for those young people who are not academically inclined.”
A job for young people was as important as education, he said.
“Having a job means young people are socialising and learning independence; when you see these statistics it’s clear youth unemployment is a growing problem and that’s a real concern.”
Last year, BackTrack helped about 180 young people across the district in training, work experience and progression towards paid work.
“We’ve developed an holistic approach to helping young people back into full-time employment,” Mr Shakeshaft said.
Experts cited a number of reasons for the high rate of youth unemployment.
Online shopping has wiped out sales assistance work traditionally taken up by young people.
Other entry-level jobs, such as filing clerks and typists with the Public Service, no longer exist because of technological change.
Armidale Dumaresq councillor and youth worker Chris Halligan said Council needed to continue to progress light industrial and low to medium-skilled job opportunities.
“Rezoning of land near Armidale airport for light industry should help that,” Cr Halligan said.
“Hopefully, light industry there will open up jobs for young people as well as help semi-skilled people to stay in the workforce.”