Melissa Goodman is an activist, a warrior for equality and fairness, and volunteer Chairperson for the Young Workers Resource Centre.
Young people are affected by precarious identities.
Rentals that are ever changing, as landlords hike rent prices ad hoc, flatmates moving and shuffling between the best deal at any given time, keeping belongings to a minimum in case a move is required with short notice. Moving from one social structure to the next as friends move from cities, countries, tertiary studies and jobs…
As a student the struggle to get good grades while working two or three casual jobs, is real. As is seeking a balance of social and study, and finding ways to make a difference in volunteering roles, while still ensuring some semblance of wellness.
In making money we face the reality of our workforce and job market. The Iow wages, insecure employment, and short term work. We struggle with the tenuous nature of wanting work that aligns with our values, in organisations that not only seek to make the world around us better, but have real impact. – That don’t just talk of doing good, but actually do good.
Putting all of these wonderful experiences and qualifications together to realise that the best offer you’ll get is a fixed term, part time role, or more commonly a part time casual role with no consistency week to week is a stark reality.
We hoard what money we can, so that on those weeks when there is no work, rent can still be paid. Young people yearn for purpose, but are starved by their environment, and the people that operate it.
We want to do more, be more, make an impact and see change.
We have so much to give and offer. We are concerned about the environment, poverty, politics, civil rights, and so much more. Yet, many workplaces, schools and internships aren’t ready for our passion and vigor.
Young people are resilient, ready to work harder and longer for the right reasons.
For the right people.
We care. We’re ready and willing to put our all in.
But how can we do this when our options involve such precarity? How can you get the best out of anyone who doesn’t know when they will next have to convince their landlord or head tenant that “I can double up rent next week, I don’t have it this week, work only needed me for five hours”. How can we do better for our future leaders? What are we doing to teach, guide, mentor and propel their energy?
Working (in either paid employment or unpaid labour) is a core part of life. It is a grounding for many people. It is a foundational part of identity.
Therefore, work should be: just, accessible, afford agency and allow for innovation.
Young people are somewhat nomadic. Moving from one place to another as we find our place in the world. But does that decrease the value that we bring, does that require lower wages and insecure employment? Does that mean our ideas, opinions and impact mean less?
It requires the ability to be agile, flexible, adaptable, energetic and willing to learn.
In this way I think we have a lot to learn from the rangatahi that cross our paths.