Data from the 2016 census shows that more and more young people are filling low-paid routine jobs, and most of these are in the hospitality industry.
More than 40% of Australia’s kitchen hands are males aged 15-19. So are more than half of Australia’s fast food cooks, and one third of its checkout operators and office cashiers.
Because these are occupations demanding little or no skill, and a minimum of on the job training, they are easy for young people to pick up. They also tend to be very repetitive routine jobs.
Johanna Wyn, director of the University of Melbourne’s Youth Research Centre, says many industries are dividing jobs into smaller, separate tasks, and hiring young people just to do those tasks.
She suggests this limits chances for “millennials”, the generation born since the mid-1990s. Many older workers may have started out in the workforce the same way, but moved on to more varied occupations as their skills and experience grew. In other words, they began with a job but then took up a career.
According to an ABC study comparing the 2006 and 2016 censuses, average ages are decreasing by up to two years in many of the occupations already dominated by young workers. In more than 90% of all jobs, the trend is the opposite, with average ages increasing.
This has helped to create a division between those with and without qualifications, and may be forcing more young people into the lower paid routine jobs.
It is also a time when young Australians have more formal education than in the past. A part-time job in a cafe or bar helps them support themselves while they undertake studies. However, even when they get their qualifications, they often have to undertake an internship or traineeship on very low wages or no wages, maybe for a year or longer. In that case, they still need their part-time jobs.