Job-searching and careers: Young Torres Strait Islanders, 1999

Author/editor: Arthur, W, David-Petero, J
Year published: 2000
Issue no.: 205


The principal aim of this paper was to examine the strategies young people adopt to further their careers. Young people in Torres Strait are likely to use informal strategies when searching for jobs or training; these include approaching employers and trainers directly or using the contacts of family or friends. They are less likely to use the formal job-search facilities of Centrelink and Job Network. Payments such as Newstart seem to lack the flexibility to allow people to move on and off payments quickly to take up occasional job opportunities, for example in commercial fishing. Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) appears to present fewer such difficulties. People do not always know what and where formal labour market services are available. If the aim is to improve young people's access to the labour market and career options through Centrelink and Job Network, then possibly these agencies should do more to advertise their services. This could possibly occur through the secondary school system.

The fact that Centrelink payments such as Newstart exists in remote areas alongside CDEP mean that these two systems of payment effectively compete for customers. Therefore, a policy initiative might be to redesign Centrelink payments and the CDEP system so that they complement one another rather than compete with one another and so help create more career opportunities.

People do not necessarily see CDEP as something that can help them achieve their career goals partly because they feel that much of the part-time CDEP work is boring or pointless. Community councils also provide people with full-time work and training positions that are subsidised by CDEP and these are viewed very positively by participants. Related to this, people place a high value on training and further study and the services of TAFE. A challenge for policy makers and communities is to derive ways of creating more, and more interesting, CDEP work and/or training positions.

People often feel that their family can help them achieve their aspirations. However, fulfilling family commitments can also present something of a barrier to them furthering their careers and represents a form of tension. Because people may have to put family responsibilities before their careers when they are young, they may also wish to restart their careers at a later date after they have fulfilled some of these responsibilities.

As noted in the foreword, this is one of a set of three papers from an initial survey in Torres Strait. The other two papers in the set deal respectively with people's career aspirations (CAEPR Discussion Paper No. 206) and with the relationship between their education and training, and their careers (CAEPR Discussion Paper No. 207). The initial survey that provided the data for this paper is part of a larger study. The study utilises the concept of career which facilitates an exploration of what people think about their future and embodies the idea of change over time. The project aims to determine what may assist or deter people from fulfilling their aspirations, and how and why their ideas about their futures may change. In an attempt to capture these aspects of people's lives, those who were part of this initial survey will be interviewed again.

ISBN: 0 7315 2640 6

ISSN:1036 1774

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