THUMBS UP: Solbar barista Nikki Watts (right), pictured with Steph Long, is a seasoned “hospo” worker with nine years under her belt who loves her job but ultimately wants to get into the health industry.
THUMBS UP: Solbar barista Nikki Watts (right), pictured with Steph Long, is a seasoned “hospo” worker with nine years under her belt who loves her job but ultimately wants to get into the health industry. Nicky Moffat

Sunshine Coast youth unemployment rates drop by 4%

FINDING cafe work is easy for barista Nikki Watts, which is why she has stuck with "hospo" since her first job at age 16.

"I've been in hospitality and retail my whole life," she said.

"I'm trying to get into other areas but really, the easiest areas to get jobs are hospitality, so I've just stuck with that."

The 25-year-old now works at Solbar and while she hopes to one day work in health, she was yesterday content to stay at the popular Ocean St venue.

Ms Watts is part of a generation of Sunshine Coast youth for whom job prospects are brighter, according to anti-poverty organisation the Brotherhood of St Laurence, which released its map of regional and rural youth unemployment "hotspots" yesterday.

Happily for local young people, the Sunshine Coast wasn't on it.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence says young people continue to be at higher risk of unemployment than other age groups, with the statewide rate of 13.2% for 15 to 24-year-olds twice that overall rate of 6.1%.

The worst affected areas are in outback Queensland, but nearby Gympie, Hervey Bay and Bundaberg were also trouble spots, at 20.6%.

Will the drop in the youth unemployment rate encourage more young people to stay on the Sunshine Coast?

This poll ended on 22 March 2016.

Current Results

Yes. If there are more jobs fewer people will want to move.

30%

No. I'm we don't yet know if this is a long-term thing.

38%

Maybe. But there will always be young people who leave to for other reasons.

30%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

On the Sunshine Coast, youth unemployment is at 9.6% in December - down from 14.2% in November 2014 and 10.5% in October last year. While the Sunshine Coast's youth unemployment problem seems to be diminishing, young people are still leaving the Coast in droves.

A report released by the Sunshine Coast Business Council yesterday shows that the overall number of people moving to the Sunshine Coast has doubled since 2011, but young people aged 18-24 continued to depart. Released ahead of the local council elections on Saturday, the report analysed employment data from the Noosa and Sunshine Coast Council areas over the previous local council term of three years.

SCBC chairwoman Sandy Zubrinich commended the councils for their part in improving the unemployment rate, but called for a review of the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Strategy and urged the new councils to make employment a priority.

The report shows that the industries highlighted in this Sunshine Coast Council strategy as key for the region's future were not yet producing many jobs.

"A lot of people might have thought that employment growth is coming out of health or education, but we've found the growth has not been in those areas just yet," she said.

Ms Zubrinich said the new Sunshine Coast mayors and councillors-elect should consider revisiting the Regional Economic Development Strategy, and include Noosa Regional Council in the discussion, as the issues "don't stop at the LGA (local government area) borders".

The report showed these high-value industries would in the future provide a large number of jobs but this had not taken shape yet.

"We've got to keep trying hard here," Ms Zubrinich said. "That's why we need to see strong leadership coming from council, because we all know that...we're going to have a very tough 2016. So we do want to see opportunities taken."


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