Generation ME: Teenage activist with ’12 years of classical music training’ whinges about having to apply for retail jobs when she was 17
- NSW Young Labor has released video on Australian youth struggling to find work
- Activist Belinda Thomas, 19, lamented how she applied for 10 retail jobs at 17
- She could not use her ’12 years of training as a classical musician’ to get work
A youth activist who wanted to be a classical musician has whinged about having to apply for retail jobs at the age of 17.
New South Wales Young Labor has released a three-minute video of members under 26 complaining about the job market.
Belinda Thomas, 19, appeared in the Facebook video whingeing about having to apply for less glamorous jobs in retail before she became an adult.
A youth activist who wanted to be a classical musician has whinged about having to apply for retail jobs at the age of 17
‘When I was 17, I needed income to support myself in order to have a claim of independence from my family situation,’ she said in a video filmed at trendy Chippendale on the fringe of Sydney’s CBD.
‘Unable to use my 12 years of training as a classical musician to find a job, I ended up sending about 10 applications to retail jobs and only ended up scrounging one by chance.’
Ms Thomas said she was only able to score this job because she ‘had the exact same name as the interviewer’s best friend’.
Youth unemployment in June rose to 16.4 per cent, with the coronavirus recession making life in the labour market particularly tough for those aged 15 to 24.
The jobless rate among the young was more than double last month’s national average of 7.4 per cent, itself the highest since November 1998.
One critic on Facebook questioned how Ms Thomas had expected the government to help her, considering coronavirus has led to live concerts being cancelled since March.
‘What’s government got to do with jobs in classical music? Weird ad,’ one man said.
A generation ago, Young Labor prided itself on standing up for those in less fashionable hospitality and retail jobs.
Former Young Labor president Mark Arbib, who later became a federal government minister, became involved in politics during the early 1990s recession after he had a dispute with his managers while working at a Sizzler restaurant as a university student.
In Ms Thomas’s case, the labour market had apparently conspired against her.
Belinda Thomas, 19, appeared in the Facebook video whingeing about having to apply for less glamorous jobs in retail before she became an adult
‘Entering adulthood isn’t easy, but entering adulthood as a young woman when the whole system is already set up against you is terrifying,’ she said.
Unemployment during June amid COVID-19
Australia’s unemployment rate climbed from a 19-year high of 7.1 per cent in May to 7.4 per cent in June – the highest since November 1998
Number without work climbed from 923,000 to a record-high 992,300
Close to a million people unemployed for the first time ever – surpassing 960,200 record set in December 1992
Unemployment increased even though 210,800 more people were employed as COVID-19 shutdowns eased
That was because the participation rate increased from 62.7 per cent to 64 per cent as more people looked for work
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data for June
‘The burning desire you’ve had to succeed your whole life is suddenly met with a crushing roadblock just when you think you’ve got a new chance.’
She then sarcastically addresses stereotypes about young people being lazy, with one in five young women out of work.
‘Believe me, these statistics don’t exist because we’re a lazy generation with our eyes and hands glued to our screen,’ she said.
Former prime minister Paul Keating, former NSW premier Bob Carr and federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese are all former NSW Young Labor presidents.
The Young Labor video criticised Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government for putting up fees for arts degrees but didn’t mention how they are being reduced for occupations in demand such as nursing, teaching and science.
NSW Young Labor president Paul Mills in the video said ‘Scomo and the Libs have sent a message to young people telling them their lives are gonna get a lot tougher’.
The federal government has already spent $70billion on the JobKeeper program providing $1,500 a fortnight wage subsidies to 3.3million workers, as the coronavirus shutdowns threatened to spark the deepest economic downturn since the 1930s Great Depression.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is expected to announce an extension of this package on Thursday, which could see struggling workers given taxpayer help until June next year.
The Coalition government’s three welfare stimulus programs, adding up to almost $154billion, are triple what Kevin Rudd’s Labor government spent in 2008 and 2009 at the height of the Global Financial Crisis.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted NSW Young Labor for comment.