This paper considers whether Indigenous employment strategies implemented over the latter half of the 1980s and early 1990s coincided with an improvement in occupational status for Indigenous workers and a movement towards greater similarity with the occupational profile of the general population. Using detailed occupation data from the 1986 and 1991 Censuses, change in the relative distribution of Indigenous employment is analysed by sex and section-of-State. This reveals no substantive change in the disproportionate reliance of Indigenous people on low-skilled, low-status jobs, although considerable variability exists at disaggregated levels of analysis. While Indigenous female workers increasingly occupy similar occupational niches to other females, considerable dissimilarity remains between Indigenous and other males in the workforce. Also at variance are occupational profiles in major urban areas and rural areas, with far less difference in occupational structure between Indigenous and other workers in the former. At the broad occupational level, the continued concentration of the Indigenous workforce in low-status categories is worrying from a policy perspective. This is because the share of the workforce accounted for by the lower skill categories is projected to fall over the next decade. Furthermore, projected skill-deepening within the labour market will place added strain on future mainstream employment prospects for Indigenous people, given their relatively poor educational status.
ISBN: 0 7315 1778 4