Let’s Talk: What’s happened to the work ethic of Australians?

Remember when you were younger and couldn’t wait to get into the workforce? You wanted to find your own way
Let's Talk

Remember when you were younger and couldn’t wait to get into the workforce? You wanted to find your own way (some by necessity) and make a contribution to your family and some felt that their simple contribution to the workforce was a contribution to the economy of the country.

How times have changed!

A report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) titled Investing in Youth – Australia has revealed that increasing number of young Australians are refusing to get a job and are choosing to spend their time “chilling” while getting government support.

The report has highlighted that as of 2015, one in five Australians aged between 16 and 24 years were not in employment, education and training (NEET) for at least 12 months. While around 580,000 (or one in eight) 15 to 29 year olds were not ‘doing anything’ for that period.

Perhaps what’s worse is that nearly two-thirds of these young people couldn’t even be bothered seeking work.

“I would tell you that it’s hard to get a job but to be honest I don’t even try. Centrelink pays my rent and that’s all I need,” one 21-year-old told The Daily Telegraph.

Business surveys suggest young people are not adequately prepared for working life and lack foundational skills in literacy and numeracy, as well as skills such as communication and problem-solving.

By contrast, older workers remain an important part of the Australian workforce. The Intergenerational Report in 2010 highlighted the contribution older workers continue to make in the labour force, with more than 5.5 million Australians aged 55 years and over making up one-third (or 16 per cent) of the labour force, which is an increase on the contributions of your parents and grandparents.

Do you think the youth of today has a problem with its work ethic? What do you think the issues are? Are you still engaged in employment (full-time or part-time)?

  1. Vicki Hooper  

    Our children aged from between 33 and 27 have always worked full time two of them had part time jobs while still in high school .I also know that the majority of their friends have also held down full time work , sometime changing jobs but never being unemployed ..I don’t actually know anybody who has been on the dole …

  2. Elly de Lange  

    It frustrates and angers me that people on benefits talk about government and Centrelink. They fail to realise or if they do, they don’t care that those of us who worked or are working pay taxes in order for the government/ Centrelink to give them their benefits.

  3. Selwyn Smith  

    I think that this is a sweeping generalization based on a MSM generated sterotype. Neoliberal ideology to hit the most vulnerable. There maybe a few taking advantage and that has always happened irrespective of which generation you like to name. My kids 29 to 34 have always been in full time employment since school and university (one did both)

  4. Dianne Evans  

    Hogwash there are nowhere near enough jobs and most are casual and part time and always they are given to youngest and cheapest workers. No one has job security and we could work our way up without Uni degrees years ago and had plenty of job security. I find it so annoying people who go on about bludgers it is a payment that barely keeps body and soul together and only if you have family help. Jobs are disappearing at speed.

    • Alan  

      Hogwash you say ad that is whatt you say hogwash. There are plenty of jobs vacant but these overeducated brats will not do them as its bebeath their dignity. I am 76 and pay approx 20%of my salary in tax. Because i earn the government reduces my hard earned tax paid pension t a point i get nothing per fortnight. These youg ofle arregant i will not workers steal approx $700 per f/n for declining to worh. Get real work or starve its your choice

      • Mareela  

        You’re a real charmer Alan and says very little for your level of education that you would believe all the crap that papers print. In many areas of Australia there are just no jobs and particularly in regional areas. The jobless statistics are hardly accurate as they include people who may only work one hour a week. The under employment rate is also very high. Perhaps you should do a little more research before you put foot in mouth.


      I really can’t complain about the level of the old age pension too much. After they take out my public housing rental I
      still have $355 each week. Of this I budget $70 pw for my energy, car insurance, broadband and seniors’ Foxtel commitments plus another $30 pw to cover my medical scripts, RACV m/ship and my car rego. Rarely I spend over $100 on food …. but my 12 yo cairn terrier blows this out somewhat (he really does live the life of Reilly).
      But, even so after all these costs I still eat really well and have enough left over to feed my awful nicotine habit (don’t like alcohol though). I often smile to myself when my total cash worth on the days prior to my pension payment is 50c in my bank account and rarely a dollar in my pocket. If I didn’t smoke I’d probably have heaps left over – but hey !!
      I always take advantage of the interest free $1000 Centrelink loan every 6 months and this guarantees I’ve got funds for emergencies, b/day presents, clothing, etc. Sure, the pension is not very generous but you CAN live reasonably comfortably on it if you’re careful.

  5. J Taylor  

    I started a paper run at 13, started a Saturday job just before I was 15, I had worked constantly all my life and at nearly 67 still work 5 hours a week. Would do more but Centrelink make it too hard to deal with. Today my grandson 14 told me he had a part time job linned up for when the football season ended, he could have started earlier but he had a commitment to his team. He had secured his employment before checking with mum and dad and had to get their permission first. They are thrilled to bits at his maturity. I am pleased at his attitude, these are the kids that will succeed.

  6. Bill Smith  

    I think the whole story is a fabrication of the media and not even true .
    For anyone who has a benefit paid from Centrelink , mainly the unemployment benefits , everyone must supply their work application log book for the month, showing they are making some effort to try and find a job. Therefore it would be impossible for these so called thousands of people to get away with just sitting around, it just doesn’t happen . I was 58 when I had to search for work so I know, if you don’t , you will be taken off benefits.

    • Mareela  

      There’s nothing wrong with the work ethic of young Australians. I’ sick of them being demonised. Many people are under employed and there is a huge casualisation of the work force, all to the benefit of the employer. I have a nephew who is 31 and has applied for many many jobs and can’t find employment. He is the most over educated unemployed person I know. He has a degree, and 2 diplomas in the health industry. He has done everything he can to gain employment and all to no avail. Needless to say he is depressed and we are concerned for his mental health. There are just not enough jobs for many Australians and we have this government to thank with their FTA’s and closing down of all manufacturing. Everything is being sent off shore because it’s supposed to be cheaper but of course that means no jobs for Australians. We no longer live in the lucky country.

  7. tango  

    in the 60sthe first thing you thought was to get a job uni was out of the ? due cost i got apprenticeship at CSR never out of work all my working life and worked all the overtime i could , i helped 7 engineering students through the trade it was fun in those days BUT today there are too many distractions for the young ones now days as there brain is not constrating on the job ,answer ban phones on the job they get sacked and end up at centerlink

  8. Diana  

    I realise there may be a storm of protest over my suggestion, but what about reviving the Land Army? Many young people are on benefits because they can’t get jobs and many squander their opportunities as well. A work ethic is either unavailable through lack of jobs or is not passed down through the family. Only last week, a couple of young women were interviewed on TV announcing that they didn’t want jobs and why should they work when Centrelink looks after them? They wanted to hang around MacDonalds and why shouldn’t they, they were entitled after all.

    There are many jobs which need doing, which councils can’t afford to do, many elderly people who need work done and can’t afford to pay for it. Those who can are frequently scammed.

    This has been suggested before I know, and work for the dole has been unsuccessful because – IMO – it was not managed efficiently – but how about putting the young ones to work? E.g. paddocks and paddocks of the noxious fireweed are out now, lakes cleared of algae, national parks are full of lantana which destroys the rainforest growth, the National Trail here in south-east Queensland needs attention. Regrowth needs to be planted in deforested areas. Of course, it will cost money, but the dole is costing money already and is unproductive.

    In every town in the country, there are elderly who need lawns cut, drains cleared – you name it – so why not give the young ones something to do? Not interesting enough for them? Boring perhaps? Many of today’s pensioners remember their fathers rabbit trapping, burr cutting, laying sleepers – all to keep the family fed and sheltered.

    Having said this, recently there was also a mention on TV of people who are doing community service as part of their suspended sentences doing quite useless jobs (jam making etc) so what about them?

    There is so MUCH to be done and regular bodies such as shire councils haven’t got the money to hire more people to do the work. Having an army of young people (and community servicers) do the work will not take away from regularly employed, so the unions can hardly squeal.

    Okay, that’s my rant for the day.

  9. Its Simple why look for jobs that dont exist because again Refugees come in start up there own business with Taxpayer Money or money bought with them, and employ their own.
    Its the Governments fault whole Government. We need a Duturte To clean up the Corruption in Government and Business.

  10. All students need to be staying at school to complete year 12. Upon graduation, if they are not going onto work or further education, there needs to be no Centrelink,payment as is now. What I believe is that the age of adulthood to be raised to 21 and for parents to be held responsible for providing for their own children. I also believe that there needs to be an educational extension so that when students graduate, they have the skills of independent living, basic life skills, parenting education and vocational training.

    Leaving school and collecting funds from taxpayers contributions to provide people to comtinue accessing government funds, that set them up for failure.

    Able bodied people need to be working or learning and funds spent on providing this is in my opinion, would be more productive.

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