Young people struggling to find paid work should consider volunteering their time in the workforce as a foot in the door to employment, according to Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews.
Mr Andrews has previously suggested young people facing the prospect of no dole for six months should take a job they don’t really want or do a course.
From 2015, people up to 30 years old will have to wait six months for an unemployment benefit.
Mr Andrews said unpaid work showed employers, “you’re out there, you’re proactive, you actually want to do something”.
“I worked part-time in school and through university, but then I actually worked on a voluntary basis for a month. I was looking for a job and I wasn’t able to get one,” he said.
“By the end of that month the people I was working with said, ‘oh, well we’ve got a job, would you like to take it’. So I’ve always believed in taking a job, whatever it is.”
Asked about the possibility of a young person undertaking work experience that did not eventuate in paid work amid the six-month delay, Mr Andrews said it was worth having a go.
“I’m not saying it’s always easy, but I think the thing is to be proactive. Not to sit down and say, you know, ‘poor me’,” he said.
Canberra 28-year-old Miriam Dunn has taken up temporary jobs through a recruitment agency since completing her PhD in climate science two months ago, but has struggled to secure permanent positions despite applying for receptionist jobs to research roles.
While work experience could sometimes lead to paid employment, Ms Dunn said competition for positions was fierce and even one or two day’s work wasn’t enough to pay the bills.
“At the age of 28 I’ve had to ask my parents for financial support, which is really embarrassing and a financial burden on them, and not everyone is in [that] situation. I’m very lucky,” she said.