New research from Medibank based on one-on-one interviews with over 1,500 people has revealed that almost half of all young people lack confidence in finding work because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Medibank released the research findings at a gathering of business leaders and health professionals that was convened to coincide with the last day of the federal government's Jobs and Skills Summit.
The aim of the research was to highlight the significant impact that two years of disrupted learning and work experience have had on a generation of young people entering the workforce.
It also found that one-in-two surveyed 16 to 24-year-olds said they do not feel they have the networks to get a job, a third believe they will never catch up on missed learning and are consequently making different career choices, while almost 60 per cent of young people are more nervous about joining the workforce.
Medibank CEO of Health Services Dr Andrew Wilson said business leaders and key decision-makers have the opportunity to step up and help restore the career confidence of young people.
“There is a critical need to shine a spotlight on the mental health and wellbeing of the future of the Australian workforce,” said Dr Wilson.
"Our research shows young people feel less confident about joining the workforce as COVID has impacted their learning, their health and their relationships. The consequences of inadequately addressing youth mental health and wellbeing now will only compound in coming years,” he said.
Medibank said its claims data has found the number of 16-to-29-year-olds being admitted to hospital for mental health-related treatment has risen more than 31 per cent over the past 5 years.
headspace’s National Clinical Advisor Simon Dodd, who gave the keynote address, said prioritising mental health and wellbeing in the workplace delivers both social and economic dividends.
“Mentally healthy workplaces experience three times less absenteeism compared to less supportive workplaces, with absenteeism and presenteeism costing the Australian economy $17 billion each year,” he said.
“I’m really encouraged to see business leaders willing to expand their mental health toolkit, lead by example and start to have healthy conversations with their employees.”
Youth mental health advocate Jordan Frith believes many young people are considering a company’s approach to mental health when determining where to work.
“It’s no longer just about how much a company is willing to pay you, young people are now seriously considering an organisation’s approach to mental health and if they can provide a safe and supportive work environment,” said the 22-year-old.
"The Jobs and Skills Summit is an opportunity to recognise the significant impact youth mental health and wellbeing has on our economy and our future.”