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Youth and how they are coping in today’s tough economic conditions is an issue of national importance, and the theme of a symposium to be held at The University of Auckland this week.
Driving the discussions will be 30 young people from South and Central Auckland high schools. They will join senior policy makers, practitioners and academics, including Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft.
The one day symposium is co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology, University of Auckland and the National Centre for Life Course Research, University of Otago.
“Youth in this country is the single greatest investment we can make as a society. Youth participation and inclusion is essential for our collective futures,” says Professor Alan France, Head of the Department of Sociology at The University of Auckland.
The figures show these are difficult times for our nation’s youth. The youth unemployment rate (15 to 19 years) is three times that of the overall working population. Young people make up 45 per cent of our unemployment rate, more than in any other OECD country. The rates for Maori and Pacific are even higher. New Zealand also has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the OECD.
“Many young people in New Zealand are under significant pressure in their everyday lives, yet we see very little recognition of how tough these times are for the young,” says Professor France. “We believe there is a need for a national debate not only about how we address some of the embedded inequalities in our society, but also how we can help generations to come to break through these barriers.”
The day will include presentations by Professor Alan France; Dr Tracey McIntosh, Department of Sociology, The University of Auckland; and Professor Richie Poulton, National Centre for Lifecourse Research, University of Otago.
Panel discussions will be held discussing key themes including Youth policy in New Zealand; Youth, inequality, and unemployment; and What’s wrong with the ways we look at youth?.