It’s Crunch Time

A significant number of young people lack basic educational attainments and levels of engagement to adequately cope with the demands being made of them.

Raising youth engagement and attainment, a discussion paper.

A unique conjunction of factors – strong economic conditions and growth into the foreseeable future, Australia’s continuing need for a skilled workforce, and the forecast demographic squeeze facing the nation – tell us it is now crunch time to really deliver and to open the doors to greater youth engagement in learning, in the economy and in the society.

In the last year important progress has been made in terms of reducing the numbers of young people not fully engaged in learning or work.

But as this paper notes, a significant number of young people lack basic educational attainments and levels of engagement to adequately cope with the demands being made of them either in the workplace or in the wider society.

Achieving higher levels of youth engagement and skill attainment are worthy goals in their own terms. But they are vital if Australia is to successfully cope with a demographic squeeze resulting from ‘baby boomers’ embracing retirement; the need to increase the rate of participation in the workforce; and to raise productivity levels to points where they match or exceed our competitors.

Because of Australia’s sustained economic achievements over more than a decade the country has a unique opportunity to invest in young people and cement institutional arrangements to ensure that even more young people are engaged, skilled and developed over the long-term.

The Australian Industry Group and the Dusseldorp Skills Forum are releasing this discussion paper to stimulate debate and ideas on how young Australians can be better skilled and engaged.

We hope the paper elicits vigorous public discussion and makes a contribution to the contest of ideas and thinking about education and training now taking place in Australia, especially in the context of a forthcoming federal election. For our political leaders, and more importantly for Australia as a whole, an integrated rather than piecemeal approach to policy will yield dividends – for young people, their parents, educators, communities, industry and governments.

While we are confident in the value of the proposals being tabled, we are equally conscious that they will benefit from fresh eyes and broader debate. We commend the paper to you and welcome your thoughts and comments.

Crunch Time (1.29 MB)

August 2007


  • Australian Industry Group
  • Dusseldorp Skills Forum
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