More Career Awareness Needed for Indigenous Youth – Report
Friday, 15th August 2014 at 1:16 pm
Indigenous youth are failing to realise their career aspirations due to a perceived lack of educational and employment opportunities, new research out of welfare Not for Profit Mission Australia has revealed.
According to the 2014 Mission Australia Indigenous Aspirations report, when Indigenous youth do not have access to or awareness of opportunities available in their communities, their aspirations may fail to develop or be realised.
By contrast, Indigenous youth who are aware of opportunities to transition from school to further study or employment are much more likely to stay engaged in education and make positive plans for their future.
Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans said the report demonstrated the need to engage early with young Indigenous Australians, to make them aware of opportunities available and encourage them to set their goals high.
“With Australia in the midst of a debate about Indigenous welfare and employment, this report highlights the critical need for young Indigenous people to be supported and mentored as they make their way through school into adulthood,” Yeomans said.
“The report shows, before even completing school many Indigenous youth are disengaging with their own future, because they don’t see opportunity on the road ahead.
“They are concerned about a lack of jobs in their communities and intergenerational unemployment has meant many haven’t had the chance to observe life in the workforce at home, resulting in limited aspirations.
“Whether they live in remote communities or in metropolitan areas, young Indigenous Australians need to be given the chance to dream big – to understand the opportunities available to them and to be supported to achieve their best.”
The Indigenous Aspirations report findings were drawn from responses of 15 to 19-year-olds who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in the Mission Australia 2013 Youth Survey.
Among Indigenous respondents who felt there were no local opportunities for employment or education:
More than 1 in 5 (23 per cent) were not participating in education at all;
More than 1 in 10 (11 per cent) were not in education, employment or training;
Just one in five (20 per cent) indicated aspirations to attend university after high school;
About one fifth (21 per cent) believed there were no choices available to them after high school.
By contrast, among Indigenous respondents who did think there were local opportunities:
The majority were participating in education (94 per cent);
2 per cent were not in education, employment or training;
More than a third (39 per cent) indicated aspirations to attend university after high school.
The report showed that the perception of a lack of opportunities was not limited to rural and regional areas but also experienced in metropolitan areas, suggesting the issue was not only a lack of opportunities but also a lack of awareness and information on support and opportunities that may be available locally.
It also showed that the influence of family was critical.
Among respondents who felt there were no local opportunities for them, around half of respondents rated their family’s ability to “get along” as poor, it said.
Of those who were more aware of locally available employment and education opportunities, over half (58 per cent) rated their family’s ability to get along as “excellent” or “very good”, highlighting the role family has played in boosting their aspirations.
Yeomans said the report recommended the need for jobs, traineeships and education services in local areas, along with improved connections between young people and services which could help them to access opportunities.
“It’s partly about the need for more jobs and training opportunities locally – but it’s also making sure Indigenous youth are aware of and engaged with the pathways for them to get there,” Yeomans said.
“Peer mentoring and community centres can play an important role to support Indigenous young people who might need information and support to explore avenues into further education and employment.
“We need to invest in intensive support programs, engaging with schools, families and communities, so Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth don’t fall through the cracks in the system.”
Mission Australia’s Indigenous Aspirations report provides a range of recommendations including:
- Create mentoring programs which help transition young Indigenous people into work, improve retention of new employees and support the development of aspirations for career development and further education and training;
- Make community centres available for Indigenous young people who might need information and support to explore pathways into further education and employment;
- Continue and expand initiatives like the Indigenous Youth Career Pathways (IYCP) programs to provide aspirational activities and improve school retention through school-based traineeships;
- Workplace-based literacy and numeracy support for those who are employed but were disengaged with the education system;
- Stronger engagement with Indigenous families and more consultation with significant community members. Community stakeholders should be developing local services to help align community views with external providers;
- Long-term engagement with Indigenous communities. This includes mainstream services working closely with Indigenous services to strengthen connections with remote communities.