News and Woolies host talks to boost youth employment

Business and government leaders were brought together at a roundtable organised by News Corp Australia and Woolworths yesterday to discuss how to increase employment opportunities for young people and improve job readiness.

The roundtable session was part of the ‘Generation Success’ initiative, launched earlier this year by the two companies, which aims to foster national debate on youth employment in Australia.

At a breakfast in the Shangri-La Hotel’s ballroom prior to the roundtable session, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that employment was critical to ensuring optimism among young people.

“There is nothing that is more spirit-crushing than the sense that you have something to give but nowhere to give it,” he said.

“Everyone can be good at something; it’s just a question of finding what that is.”

Mr Abbott pledged his support for ‘Generation Success’ and thanked News Corp chief executive Julian Clarke and Woolworths chief executive Grant O’Brien – who also spoke at the event – for their involvement in the initiative. His speech emphasised the importance of a first job, regardless of what it is.

“My first job was building a fence for a friend of my dad’s when I was 16 years-old. I did it for three weeks, I got paid $2 an hour and I hope the fence is still there,” he said. “I’ve been a labourer, a bartender. I’ve been a handyman…I’ve done all of those things before finally becoming a journalist and then a member of parliament.

“The message we have to give to our young people is that ‘it doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you start’.”

‘Generation Success’ brings several of the country’s biggest employers together – including Leighton Holdings, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank, Toll Group, Spotless, Telstra, Foxtel and Lend Lease – who between them employ more than 460,000 Australians. CEOs or senior representatives from the companies, including Mr O’Brien and Mr Clarke, spoke with young employees representing each of the companies.

As part of the initiative News Corp Australia commissioned Galaxy to conduct a research report into first job experiences and how they differed between generations.

The research found that this generation’s young people take longer to find full-time permanent employment, that they are more likely to say they faced difficulties in securing their first full-time permanent job and are more likely to feel exploited in their first full-time job as a result of poor pay.

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