‘Q+A’ Asked How Young People Should Survive The One-Two Punch Of COVID-19 And A Recession

I don’t think anybody would ever accuse me of being an optimist. I’m here thanks to a combination of outrageous good fortune, subterfuge, and the whims of the Australian consumer economy, none of which are solid foundations for a career in the media. This past fortnight has been brutal for young workers whose careers look a little like mine; media outlets providing good, forward-thinking work, the kinds of places which made you imagine what the local media could look like, are closing down at a frightening clip.

My overarching feeling of doom was not assuaged by last night’s edition of Q+A, which focused on young Australians eating the one-two punch of the coronavirus pandemic and a massive economic downturn.

I’ve been lucky (literally, I am very lucky) to provide my thoughts on Q+A‘s youth specials for a while now, and I can say the most salient points are usually just that – points. Prior editions have focused on private school culture, or pill-testing regimes, and issues which have some kind of defining radius. Last night’s episode featured some questions with specific answers, sure, but the show was still undergirded by a question from current university students Alice Gill and Natasha Brock. 

In short: What can recent graduates and other young jobseekers hope for, in a future which feels unknowable?

There are no neat answers to a questions that big, that pressing. Not answers which feel like they’ll be accepted, at least. “The system isn’t working,” said youth commissioner Sophie Johnston. “We need to learn from the mistakes of the past.”

Cue discussions about the casualisation of the young workforce, gentle nudges towards the gig economy, and how traditional pathways to meaningful employment are increasingly becoming obsolete. It’s unclear whether there there’s enough political and industrial will to arrest those slides. A lot remains unclear, really.

Next time one of these shows rolls around, maybe we’ll be able to pluck out a definitive narrative of innovation, recovery, and faith in the power of young workers to contribute meaningfully to Australian society. For now, catch the clips below: