Interns Australia at the 2015 OECD Forum

With youth unemployment one of the key areas of concern for the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, Interns Australia was thrilled to be asked to represent young Australians at the 2015 OECD Forum in Paris. 

Last week, Interns Australia was invited to attend the 2015 OECD Forum in Paris. At the launch of the OECD Economic Outlook, the message was clear: an economic recovery without inclusive growth would risk dragging down a world economy that was still muddling-through a “B-minus” grade.  

Successful businesses need successful communities.

Young people are still feeling the impacts of the Global Financial Crisis and long-term youth unemployment continues to widen the gap in inequality. Our need for policies to create quality jobs and fair internships is an economic necessity as much as it is a moral mandate.

Unemployment is not only a major drag on economic growth but also a form of social degradation since a young person cannot live an autonomous life without a secure source of income. If we are to accept an increasingly precarious and uncertain future in the job market, then we must accept a new paradigm of life-long learning rather than a punitive framework that fails to recognise the absence of quality jobs available to young jobseekers.

Policies need to be innovative in building trust and confidence rather than creating social rifts based on assumptions of a previous era. The desire for employers to find job-ready graduates in a competitive economic climate must be balanced against the paradox that experience cannot be readily attained if there is no equitable means for obtaining work experience. 

Just as new business start-ups seek to remove regulatory uncertainty to level the playing field, we must strike the right balance that will deliver a fair internship environment for an increasingly prevalent and unregulated area of work-integrated learning.

Regulation is not a dirty word. Done the right way, regulation means transparency, fairness and safety.  The alternative to that is an industrial relations system built on malaise that will benefit nobody as lawsuits become the norm to resolving these workplace disputes.

Ultimately, we understand that reform is needed to lower the minimum level of growth needed to create jobs.  In the meantime, we can at least try to work together to get our treatment of interns to an A grade. Striking the right balance requires consensus that is built on the good will of both parties. We cannot afford to have laws that are overturned at each election at the expense of both the business and the working community.

This is why Interns Australia remains an independent voice for interns, seeking broad consultation with government bodies, the business community, labour unions and, most importantly, students. In finding the most sustainable path forward we strive to help young people enter the workplace with dignity. 

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