Report: LGBTQIA+ youth job seekers struggling with wellbeing under Covid

A recent study from atWork Australia has found Covid-19 has had a major impact on the wellbeing of youth job seekers, disproportionately affecting LGBTQIA+ folks in this area.

atWork Australia’s Job Seeker Wellbeing Index (the Index) lists pride in one’s achievements, having a sense of purpose, access to financial assistance, self-love and being heard and respected are principal predictors of wellbeing.

For job seekers aged between 15 and 24 years, there are unique needs over and above these principle five predictors, including belonging to a community, feeling appreciated and cared for by others, managing their emotions effectively, having hope for the future and having the appropriate employment skills.

atWork Australia says that the employment sector needs to consider these drivers when supporting young job seekers to look for employment.

In an Australian first, late last year atWork Australia partnered with social impact measurement experts Huber Social to release the atWork Australia Job Seeker Wellbeing Index, which is the first national Index dedicated to examining the wellbeing of job seekers across a representative sample of Australians.

For Australia’s youth job seekers, being employed and having the right job is important, but it is not the only thing that drives their wellbeing, meaning, how satisfied they are with their life.

Mental wellness and community connection are also key drivers in the pursuit of wellbeing. The Index found the average overall wellbeing of young job seekers to be 18% lower than that of the average employed person. Among this young cohort, the wellbeing of those who identify as LGBTQIA+ is significantly lower again (-28%) compared to the average employed person.

“Our recent research, the atWork Australia Job Seeker Wellbeing Index, provides a data driven roadmap for improving youth job seeker wellbeing,” says Sotir Kondov, Group Executive Employment Services, atWork Australia.

“What we have learnt from undertaking this research is that wellness, resilience and connection are the key drivers of wellbeing for this cohort. If young job seekers’ holistic needs are met, then they will be in a better position to be work-ready, motivated to find not just any job but the right job, and be capable of staying in that job long-term. This indicates a need for employment services providers to support the whole individual and not just their work capabilities.”

In the past year young people have been particularly impacted by the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, with under 25 unemployment rising to a record high at 16.4% in July 2020. Even as the nation recovers, youth job seekers must still confront obstacles to entering the labour force due to perceived lack of work experience, qualifications, or access to local job opportunities.

There are many benefits of being employed over and above it being a source of income. Aside from providing financial stability and a financial means to plan for the future, it provides a person with a sense of self-identity, it is a place where social connections are made, and a place where there’s a network of friends and contacts.

atWork Australia’s research discovered that some of the challenges faced by young people looking for work include lack of experience and difficulties finding work in a competitive labour market, the challenge of getting a job that requires experience, as well as employers not wanting to pay higher hourly rates for those above 18+. Alarmingly, the report also found racism presented a major barrier for young people seeking employment.

“The standout cohort from our studies where Australia really needs to focus its attention is the LGBTQIA+ young job seeker whose wellbeing is 28% lower than that of the average employed person and is the lowest of the key subgroups,” says Kondov.

“For the LGBTQIA+ job seeker, pride in oneself and self-love can be considered priority needs for this group, as they were two of the lowest ranked factors but are two of the biggest drivers of wellbeing for all job seekers. The research also indicated an unmet need for connection. By meeting these collective needs, rather than just their employment needs, atWork Australia can improve the overall wellbeing of these young clients.”

atWork Australia has launched their new service delivery model Youth Hubs in WA, and plan to roll out around the country as lockdowns continue to cease, in response to the figures.

In the Youth Hub, job seekers can have access to Job Coaches, in-house allied health support services, employers, other supports including driver’s license companies and job preparation workshops, as well as a community of other young people, all in one place and at no cost to the job seeker.

Through supporting their wellbeing needs, atWork Australia hopes to help young people across the country enter the labour force with greater confidence and increase their ability to fulfil their potential.

For Australia’s youth having strong life skills, emotional intelligence, and resilience matter most to their wellbeing and while having the right job is important, it is just one of many factors important to their wellbeing.

“By improving the wellbeing and addressing the most important needs of our young clients, employment services providers can have a real impact on increasing sustainable employment outcomes for young job seekers, their families, and their communities,” says Kondov.

Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 / (Webchat 3pm – midnight)
QLife are a counselling and referral service for LGBTQIA+ people.

DISCHARGED: 9364 6909 / / [email protected]
Discharged is a trans-led support service with peer support groups for trans and gender diverse folks.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 /

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 /

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