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Youth Week snapshot of young Australians

Youth Week snapshot of young Australians
April 16, 2012

As International Youth Week commences, business information analysts at IBISWorld provide insight into Australia's younger generation, detailing what can be expected from them now and in the future. 

Who are they?
Youth classified as generation Z – those born in the early to mid-1990s – will make up 13.2% of Australia's population (2,908,000 people) by 2015, according to IBISWorld (Australia) General Manager, Karen Dobie. 

Where do they live?
The younger generation live in cities by and large, with the trend towards moving from rural communities to capital cities not easing up any time soon. This trend in city living can be attributed to the availability of tertiary education centres, broader employment opportunities and the sense of cultural vibrancy attributed to urban centres.

Dobie explains that "decreasing housing affordability is leading more young people to continue living with their parents well into their 20s as they save money to eventually finance their first home purchase."

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures reveal that 48.1% of 20 to 24 year-olds were still living with their parents last year (up from 45.2% a decade earlier). This compares with 13% of 25 to 34 year-olds, up from 12.1% a decade earlier. 

Those making their first move out of the family home are choosing to live in apartments and share houses in close proximity to work, entertainment, restaurants and public transport.

What have they learned? 
Some of the most popular study avenues for Australia's youth are courses in the management and commerce field, such as accounting, finance, marketing and management; and subjects related to society and culture, including economics, law and social sciences. 

Looking at university enrolment figures from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Dobie notes that 27% of young people enrolled in society and culture courses, followed by 19.5% choosing management and commerce courses, and 16.3% pursuing careers in health. When it came to TAFE enrolments, 19.9% of students chose management and commerce, 16.9% studied engineering and related technologies, and 11.4% chose society and culture. 

Where do they work?
At the end of their studies, the younger generation of skilled workers are being attracted to service-based industries. Popular sectors include a number of professional services, administrative and support services, science, technical fields, health care and social assistance. 

Dobie notes that according to ABS figures, an impressive 27.1% of generation Z are currently involved in some form of volunteer work, with 10.1% caring for an elderly person or someone with an illness or disability; while 18.8% undertake unpaid domestic work, home maintenance or gardening.

Family funded lifestyles 
The growing number of families where both parents work has boosted household incomes in recent years. The result has been a boon for the younger generation, who are increasingly likely to benefit from their parents' rising disposable incomes. 

Dobie explains "young adults are generally well supported financially ... so long as their family is intact, and across generation Z that's increasingly common. "

ABS survey results reveal that 64% of young adults receive assistance from their parents.

Of those who receive assistance, around 45% receive financial help paying their rent, and just over 49% are taking advantage of their parents when it comes to paying their bills. 
Marriage is certainly not a priority for this age group, with the average age to marry in Australia currently standing at 29 for women and 32 for men. 

Health habits 
Dobie states "whether it's the increased cost of cigarettes or rising health consciousness, we're certainly seeing a trend of less young adults smoking."

This will eventually contribute to a decrease in the overall smoking rate. This is reflected by the sliding proportion of household expenditure attributed to tobacco products – from 1.47% this year to a forecast 1.14% by 2017.

However, young adults are drinking more alcohol – in line with rising rates of drinking across the board. IBISWorld figures reveal the average Australian will consume 11.02 litres of alcohol in 2016, up from 10.8 in 2011-12.

The waistlines of today's youth are expanding in line with those of the rest of the population. IBISWorld estimates up to 27.5% of Australians will be obese in 2016, compared with 24.6% today. 

Personalities and trends
The younger generation may live with their parents – and enjoy a financial helping hand – but they are more likely to turn to a friend in their time of need than the older generations. They are also less likely to be members of a union (membership rate is 4.1%), less likely to believe people can be trusted (49.7% compared with 54.1% of the general population), and feel unable to have a say on important community issues (50.8%) 

IBISWorld reports that the average Australian has 78.1 leisure hours each week, and many young people that are working or studying part-time may have more. These young people are using this time to go shopping, play video games, play or watch sport, or indulge in their favourite pastimes - surfing the internet and social media activities. Last year Australians spent over 19 leisure hours per week online, up from 18.3 hours in 2010 - a rising trend Ms Dobie expects to escalate in the years to 2025. 

For more information on IBISWorld's study of trends among Australia's youth go to

For more information on Youth Week go to

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