Youth unemployment has reached 14% – the highest since 2001 and more than double the overall unemployment rate of 6.2% – according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released today.

Despite youth unemployment being widely acknowledged as a national issue – the latest figures show more work needs to be done to address the problem.

A new research project by UNSW’s Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) and funded by the Citi Foundation, will examine how Australia’s young people transition to employment, education or training.

The project, Unpacking Youth Unemployment: a Citi–UNSW Research Partnership, will focus on 15–24 year olds living in the Parramatta region, which was identified in 2014 as one of the state’s youth unemployment hotspots.

“Parramatta is NSW’s second largest employment destination after the Sydney CBD, with a strong local economy and infrastructure not usually associated with high barriers to employment for young people,” said SPRC chief Investigator, Dr Jennifer Skattebol.

“This research aims to better understand youth unemployment in this region, so that we can build knowledge of the issue in order to develop effective ways of addressing the problem nationally.”

The research project will examine how local educational opportunities, transport, labour market conditions, job search and training interact to support or hinder young people’s engagement with employment, education and training.

“The consequences of youth unemployment can be long lasting, including financial, personal and social adversities. We need to support the next generation to secure their first step on the job ladder, “said Dr Skattebol.

The project’s Advisory committee is comprised of representatives from Citi, The Smith Family, UNSW’s Social Policy Research Centre, Victoria Institute, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Property Industry Foundation NSW, WPC Group Apprenticeships and Traineeships, Granville Youth and Community Recreation Centre, Punchbowl High School and Parramatta City Council.

Commenting on the launch of the research project, Head of Corporate Affairs at Citi Australia, Steven Blaney, said:

“Through the Citi Foundation, we are committed to working with community partners to connect young people to jobs. We are delighted to be working with UNSW on this innovative research project to build knowledge about ways to address youth unemployment.”

The project will involve qualitative interviews with young people “not in employment, education or training” as well as employers, employment agencies, schools and training providers, and 32 service provider agencies.

The next steps in the project involve a stakeholder forum in the Parramatta area and then in February 2015, a high level stakeholder forum. Findings are expected in April 2015.

Media contact: Fran Strachan, UNSW Media Office,,  9385 8732, 0429 416 070