Almost three quarters of young people in Australia are learning skills that will be useless by 2030.

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) has revealed as part of its Future Skills Framework 2030 that 70% of young people in Australia are not learning the skills required for the future of work.

And with an ageing population, Australia needs to continue to invest in youth in order to prosper, said FYA CEO Jan Owen.

“To get to where we need by 2030, and avoid the economic and social crisis that is looming, we need a strong framework that delivers systemic change and that is based on evidence,” Owen said.

“We also need to bring together a cross section of the community including employers, educators and government to make this work.”

Despite State and Federal governments spending a combined $91 billion on education and training annually, almost one in three young Australians remain unemployed or underemployed, which is costing the economy $4.5 billion annually.

An endemic mismatch between the education young people receive and the skills required by employers is at the heart of this issue, according to the FYA.

The FYA called for a stronger focus on skills that are relevant in the digital economy.

“Young people, supported by educators and employers, must develop a portfolio of skills that be applied across not just one job or sector, but across many positions in their lifetime,” an FYA spokesperson told Information Age.

“These skills include foundational skills, technical or job-specific skills, career management capabilities and importantly, enterprise skills (previously known as 'soft skills' or '21st-century skills').

“The impetus for young people to learn these skills is the knowledge that they become significantly more relevant and attractive to employers—we think that's a pretty compelling case.”

These distinctively human “enterprise skills” will also help to secure work with the looming threat of automation, said the FYA.

And with fewer than 5,000 graduates each year, a career in the ICT industry could provide an ideal way of securing employing and learning such skills.

“The ICT sector, which is at the forefront of technological advancement and automation, is one of many professions young people could explore in a changing job landscape,” the spokesperson said.

“But more importantly our research shows us that when young people learn and develop key versatile enterprise skills, these can be applied across many jobs and sectors, not just growing fields or sectors in demand like ICT.”

The FYA is proposing:

  • A national future skills symposium
  • A digital platform for future career insights
  • Enterprise and work-integrated learning activities
  • An ongoing future skills research program

“Without an integrated approach we are likely to end up with even greater problems, with employers, education and training providers, workers and the national economy all losers,” said Owen.