“A New Breed” Of Gen Y Bludgers Are Destroying Australia, According To The Daily Telegraph

Come on young people! Why don't you just accept all those jobs... out there... somewhere.

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“An army” of dole-bludging young Australians are draining the country’s resources in order to watch TV and play computer games, according to The Daily Telegraph, and they’re called ‘NEETS’.

The paper’s front page story today focused on two ‘NEETS’, Ashleigh and Amy, who would reportedly rather “Chill at Maccas” than spend any time in an office. I mean, who wouldn’t?

What are NEETS? It’s a term used by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to describe people who are not in employment, education or training. There are a lot of complex reasons behind the rise NEETS around the world, but trust The Daily Telegraph to ignore the complexity and focus on bashing young people trying to access Centrelink.

The story attempted to described the typical NEET by discussing Ashleigh and Amy’s recent work and education experiences. They couldn’t hold a job, had been booted out of a training college and had just applied for Centrelink. In between all that they’d managed to take their Holden Barina out for a off-road spin, which is a pretty formidable effort considering the car is a three-door hatchback.


Barina’s are not built for off-road action. Props to Ashleigh and Amy.

We shouldn’t be surprised to see the nation’s most popular newspaper go after young people on welfare. It’s their bread and butter. But the story does inadvertently highlight the economic challenges facing Australia. Surely those are feeding into the rise of NEETs?

“The number of NEETs has soared by 100,000 since the ­global financial crisis eight years ago,” the article eventually says. Ah, so it’s not really that young people are becoming lazier, but that the economic crisis has made it more difficult for young people to find work. Further down the story we find out that 41 percent of NEETs are actually trying to find work but are unsuccessful. Another 19 percent want a job but aren’t looking at the moment.

And what about the rest? Why are so many young people lazing around and not doing anything serious with their lives? According to the OECD, “Young women often drop out of work or study to have children, while young men drop out due to ‘low educational attainment, a lack of suitable employment options and ill health or disability'”. So it’s not really about people bludging, it’s more an issue of poor employment options, women having kids (how dare they!) and poor health.

Last year the OECD actually called on governments around the world to tackle the problem. They recommended that the government should invest more in high-quality education, offer better technical education services (instead we’ve slashed TAFE funding) and work with business to create more jobs. At no point did the OECD suggest that the rise in young people out of the workforce as their own fault or a deliberate decision to just bludge around.

But I guess a story that says “Government should invest more in public services” won’t sell as many papers as “New breed of bludger”.