Young people will suffer lower wages and shakier job security throughout their entire working careers, according to an Australian Productivity Commission report published on Monday.
The "Climbing the jobs ladder slower" report warns that an entire generation will be "scarred" permanently, with young workers never quite recovering from the economic effects of lockdown.
The situation is dire according to Wagga Compact CEO Megan Mulrooney, who gives career advice to young people looking to break into the job market.
She said getting a foot in the door could prove harder for those looking to launch their careers, particularly for Year 12 VET students in Wagga who missed out on this year's work placements due to lockdown.
Mrs Mulrooney said that now more than ever it was crucial for young people to up-skill to become irresistible to employers, whether through traineeships, career development programs, or networking events.
"It's going to be a really competitive employment environment, so young people have to get it right and they have to really work on themselves," Mrs Mulrooney said.
"Ask questions and don't give up. Just keep trying. There is work out there for the right person, but you've just got to keep working on yourself."
Her second piece of advice for young people is to learn job-hunting skills to stand out in the labour market, such as writing an enticing resume, setting up a LinkedIn account, and learning how to ace a job interview.
Mrs Mulrooney also implored Wagga employers to give young people a chance by offering training and entry level positions, saying it was vital to keeping young talent in the regions and the labour pool strong.
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"You have to maintain that investment in young people. You have to keep feeding your nursery, because otherwise you end up with a major skills gap," Mrs Mulrooney said.
"We need to retain our talented young people in our regions. We don't want to relocate, we need the skills in the Riverina. Let's continue to grow our own."
The report's authors expect to see young graduates start and finish their careers lower on the jobs ladder, which was a pattern that emerged out of the global financial crisis.
It gave the example of law graduates during the GFC, many of whom ended up working in cafes, low-ranking paralegal jobs, or dropping out of the legal profession entirely.
Productivity commissioner Catherine de Fontenay said a university degree was no guarantee of a stable career, particularly in light of the current economic climate.
"We have seen substantial increases in university graduates in Australia over the last 10 years or so," she said.
"Unfortunately, for many graduates that has just meant more competition to enter their chosen profession."