With a state election happening where I live, something that’s been a hot topic throughout the election campaign has been the topic of youth unemployment. In some areas youth unemployment is over 20% and in almost all districts younger people make up a disproportionately large number of the unemployed.


We are all told that if you finish school and do well at your studies that you will get a good job that pays the bills. Unfortunately life doesn’t always work out that way, and quite often finding a job can be difficult.

I’ve been reasonably fortunate having successfully gained employment straight out of university, however, not everyone is as fortunate. Those that are unable to find a job often decide to go back to university to further their education in a bid to get an edge on the competition.

Doing further studies certainly can help you in getting a job, but all too often those people who decide to do more studies, end up being pigeonholed as academics with no real world experience. I had a friend who was very smart and held at least 2 degrees, but just couldn’t land a job. He would search job vacancies relentlessly and made it to plenty of interviews, but without any experience he just couldn’t get over the line. He ended up getting to almost 30 years old before he had his first “real” job.

The problem was that he had no experience and was getting older, so employers expected more from him for the roles that he was going for – and that’s the trick I think. He had set unrealistic expectations on what he was worth, based on the amount of study he had done. Instead of going for an entry level position and working his way up, he thought he was worth more and was applying for more senior positions.

In the end he went for an entry level position and has progressed through that organization quite quickly. I think it finally dawned on him that without experience he just wasn’t worth what he thought he was worth, and that he was better off having some type of employment history than nothing at all.

Interestingly I now have another friend who is suffering the exact same complex. He is very bright, but just isn’t interested in entering the workforce as a junior as he feels he is worth more than what an entry person gets paid.

I’ve now found myself wondering if the youth unemployment problem isn’t as much about a lack of jobs as it is an unrealistic expectation of your own worth and a sense of youth entitlement that didn’t exist in previous generations.

What are your thoughts?