Barriers to Work

What is it?

Unemployment data for Australia identifies twenty regions nationally which are performing poorly in relation to youth unemployment. Four of these twenty regions are in South Australia. All four had worse figures for youth employment in 2018 than they did in 2016, with Adelaide’s Northern region continuing to be a ‘hotspot’ for youth unemployment across the state.

As shocking as these figures are, they underlie the harsh reality of life, and the everyday struggles of young unemployed people trying to make ends meet, find work and maintain hope for the future.

This is neither a government or business problem. It is everybody’s problem. We must build a State that includes everyone and where young people are not left behind, waiting for the trickle down effect to provide them with a solution, or inadvertently forcing them into taking a ‘work first’ approach that drives them into a cycle of low pay, low security and low status jobs.

Children and young people are concerned about further education, attaining their aspirations, as well as attaining meaningful work aligned with their interests, skills and passions. This was more than apparent when the Commissioner talked to young people who are ‘doing it tough’ and among those young people who live in South Australia’s regional areas.

A priority action for the Commissioner is strengthening children and young people’s participation in society, including their future contribution.  It is important that young people are hopeful and have positive aspirations of the future, and that they can be confident that they will be able to engage in work they find rewarding, both personally and financially.  

In partnership with the University of South Australia, the Commissioner will be conducting a Young People and Barriers to Work study.  The study will invite young people in South Australia to have a say about barriers to getting to work including barriers to employment from the perspective of young people, so that these barriers can be addressed including recommendations they may have for implementing solutions. 


The Commissioner has prepared the Off To Work We Go report about preparing South Australian school students for their work futures. 745 South Australian young people aged 12 to 18 years were asked what they think needs to be done to ensure they are future work ready. 

Accompanying Off to Work We Go  are two smaller spotlight reports. Spotlight on Work Experience aims to bring the voices of young South Australians and combine their ideas and insights with those of their parents, educators and business leaders. Spotlight on Parent/Carer Careers Advice contains insights for parents/carers on career advice in relation to children. 

The Job Aspirations of 8-12 Year Olds report contains insights from 8-12 year olds in South Australia about the kinds of jobs they desire across the state. 

Find Out More about our Barriers to Work Project