Out of work youth figures contested

SPEAKING OUT: Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards.
SPEAKING OUT: Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards.

THE regional youth unemployment rate could be as high as 20.5 per cent, Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards says.

Ms Edwards cited Australian Bureau of Statistics figures to highlight an "uncertain future" for young people throughout the region.

Joined by three final-year La Trobe University students at her Golden Square office, Ms Edwards said she was concerned the situation could become tougher for the region's youth.

"Regional students face greater disadvantage due to geographical location and this is being compounded by a lack of government support," she said.

Ms Edwards said cuts to apprenticeship support, cuts to TAFE funding and uncertainty over future welfare changes could have contributed to the figure.

The Victorian government was quick to dispute the 20.5 per cent figure, stating Bendigo's youth unemployment had remained steady at near 13.8 per cent in the 12 months to May.

Victorian Treasurer Michael O'Brien said a 12-month average was a more reliable way to interpret the ABS data.

"This is yet another example of negative Labor talking down Bendigo's economy," he said.

The youth unemployment figure also included people studying at high school looking for casual or part-time work.

La Trobe University arts student Jarrod Handley discussed barriers facing young people in Bendigo with Ms Edwards, along with a bio-medicine and teaching student.

Mr Handley, who was also president of the La Trobe University Bendigo Labor Club, said government and private industry needed to play a role in improving employment options for graduates.

"Young people have enough to worry about already without the proposed changes being made by the Abbott Government," he said.

"I wouldn't say there's any industry in Bendigo that's booming at the moment.

"A lot of people in Bendigo move to Melbourne for their careers.

"I believe people shouldn't always just have to keep an eye on the trends to find work but should be able to follow their skills and interests.

"There should be opportunities spread far and wide for graduates."


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