BENDIGO has one of the worst youth unemployment rates in regional Victoria, according to figures from the Brotherhood of St Laurence.
The unemployment rate in the region for those aged 15-24 sits at 13.3 per cent, behind Warrnambool and the Hume regions, and equal with Geelong.
Bendigo’s youth unemployment rate is slightly lower than the national average, which is 13.4 per cent.
But nationwide job availability has been steadily declining in recent years, meaning there are fewer positions for people to apply for.
The Brotherhood has launched a campaign, “My Chance, Our Future”, in a bid to tackle the problem, which former News Limited chief executive John Hartigan said had reached “crisis point”.
He said skills and employment were key to leading a quality life.
“Many of these young Australians are being consigned to a relatively new underclass, something we have not seen in really large numbers in affluent Australia,” Mr Hartigan said.
“However those numbers are rising.”
Bendigo Senior Secondary College principal Dale Pearce said he was concerned by the figures.
“That youth unemployment rates are high at any time is concerning,” he said.
“I think it highlights the need for the government to make sure it’s well and truly focused on education and training.
“What’s of concern in this respect is generational unemployment.
“It’s really important for those people to find ongoing sustainable employment, and for that they need a sound foundation in education and training.”
Mr Pearce said funding reform was most needed in communities with low socio-economic groups.
“And you’ll find a lot of those communities and schools are in regional Victoria,” he said.
“Federally there’s a Gonski model on the table.
“If the rates of youth unemployment are continuing to rise it’s a pretty strong signal that the government needs to invest in both education and training.”
Tasmania has the highest youth unemployment at 17.4 per cent, compared with 9.4 per cent in Western Australia.
Calls to federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne were not returned on Monday.