Stepping Up: Navigating Young Futures in Regional Towns

The 2017 National Employment Solutions Conference is coming to the Gold Coast this November – register to secure your seat now!

Dr Tim Harrison, Associate Dean Research at Federation University Australia will be at this year’s Conference, presenting “Stepping up: Navigating young futures in regional towns”.

Stepping Up: Navigating Young Futures in Regional Towns
Tim Harrison

This presentation looks at young people in rural towns ‘imagining’ and navigating their employment and education futures. Access to employment, education and training is affected by rural depopulation, high rates of youth unemployment, barriers to participation in higher education and an increasingly costly and problematic VET system. Decisions to stay or leave are complex and are made more complex by strong connection to place and community.

The research project was a study of adults involved in young people’s lives (as employers, educators, trainers and supporters) in a regional town in the west of Victoria with a significant indigenous population. The research set out to explore how young people navigated pathways between completion of compulsory schooling and work, education and training, focusing on immediate post-school transitions. This was a pilot project and it is hoped to roll out the research across more communities in Victoria, including peri-urban regions, and possibly further afield.

The research identified the ways in which young people navigated these pathways and the social, economic and community drivers, including in some cases indigeneity, affecting their choices and future trajectories. Decisions around what one participant called ‘stepping up’, to pursue higher education in the city or larger regional towns, were seemingly made early in secondary school and determined by aspirational family goals. Apprenticeships and other permanent jobs in young people’s home communities were highly valued and seen as creating viable futures, but young people did not leave the community in order to gain employment.

A strong sense emerged that post-school pathways are in many ways fixed at points early in young people’s lives and become almost like ‘sheep-tracks’ with few options for deviation once the path is set. This may well provide the benefit of a clear destination for those ‘stepping up’, or connected enough to find apprenticeships or other work in the local community; but not so much for those who are less certain, confident or supported, who need to navigate more precarious and less well-defined ‘goat-tracks’.

The 2017 National Employment Solutions Conference will examine the changing face of work and the workplace and the impacts on sector professionals.  The program will examine challenges, opportunities, trends and issues that relate to innovative employment solutions in both job supply and demand.

Secure your seat here.