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When it comes to opportunities for young Brits, England is 3-0 down to the Aussies


4 min read

That was a game. In the face of a determined Australia, the Lionesses came out on top and in this summer that never was, a World Cup decider against Spain is exactly what we need.

But no matter what happens on Sunday, let’s enjoy this victory because off the pitch our record against Australia is less impressive. In the ongoing contest of attracting and retaining the next generation of young workers, it looks like we’re in the middle of a  3-0 drubbing.

This morning, teenagers across the country recieved their A-level results marking the beginning of what should be a liberating and experiential stage of their lives.  But what’s in store for this crop of school leavers?

For university hopefuls, eye-watering  tuition fees for degrees less likely to secure employment. For those entering the job market, rising unemployment paradoxical to continued labour shortages, suggesting fewer high-skill, high-wage jobs that we were promised. And for those undertaking the great British gap-year, travel in Europe now comes with a 90-day limit, visa fees, no right to work and roaming charges! Almost all will struggle disproportionately with the spike in supermarket prices and rental costs.

Australia isn't a utopia, but it’s little wonder that 35,000 young Brits make the extra long journey to the upside down annually

They will join the titanic cohort of perennially shafted  young people who  are only being offered stress and decline. This is their inheritance from Conservative government they never voted for,  who can secure 100 per cent of the power with around 40 per cent of the vote courtesy of our broken electoral system.

Enter Australia, who, like a forward who’s been gently nudged in the penalty box, are taking full advantage of this situation. I suggested the scoreline was 3-0 in the competition for young talent but our antipodean friends have really put five past us.

Australia’s Labor government expanded childcare one year after taking office while in Blighty, it’ll be late 2024 before the Tories catch up after more than a decade in power. Renting in Australia’s largest city costs around half what you can expect in London, the average Australian works four hours less each week than the average Brit, wages are around 25 per cent higher, and when you clock off, you can reliably expect fantastic weather. Now, we don't have giant spiders so let’s call it 5-1. A thrashing by any standard.

Australia isn't a utopia, but it’s little wonder that 35,000 young Brits make the extra long journey to the upside down annually, while only 6,300 young Australians do the opposite. The traffic is remarkably one way and disproportionately made up of skilled people from the UK, including doctors and nurses at a time when the NHS is short of both. And Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese has broadened the net, now Australia’s youth visa is for anyone aged up to 35.

Britain needs to up our game when it comes to attracting and retaining young workers. Should he win the next election, Keir Starmer must demonstrate that his government really cares about young people. For an incoming Labour government, addressing housing shortages, the NHS and the economic skip fire will take many years, but increasing opportunities for young people need not.

As recommended by the UK Trade and Business Commission, the UK should rejoin Erasmus. Taking this away from students was an unnecessarily mean act of the Brexit project and must be reversed. Labour should also honour their pledge to fix the issues Brexit has created for touring musicians which hurts emerging acts most.

 More broadly, Labour should replace the one way exodus to Australia with a reciprocal youth mobility scheme for under-35s with our closest neighbours. This is more likely to see young Europeans come here, helping to address chronic labour shortages, while young Brits in Berlin can travel home more frequently than those in Brisbane.

Australia may be ahead of us in the league, they may be poaching all the best players, but as a football fan, Starmer should know that the managers aren’t just thinking of the next game. They also make the smart decisions that will pay off next season. Make changes that keep the up-and-coming talent happy. Invest in the infrastructure that allows them to reach their full potential. Show them they have an exciting future here. It’s the only way the UK can, like the Lionesses, compete with the best.


Naomi Smith, CEO for Best for Britain

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