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JSA’s Latest Reports Shed Light on Promising Trends and Struggles in First Nation Employment and Education

First Nation Employment and Education

Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) has unveiled two new reports in a stride toward understanding First Nations employment and educational outcomes. Delving into the intricacies of the subject matter, the “First Nations Workforce Analysis” and “Findings from Employers’ Experiences of First Nations Job Applicants” reports illuminate the current landscape with helpful insights. They offer a roadmap, showcasing positive developments and areas requiring more focus and support.

Positive Trends Emerge in First Nations Employment and Education

Despite persistent employment and education gaps, especially in remote areas, the First Nations Workforce Analysis report reveals encouraging developments. Over five years leading up to 2022, there has been a remarkable 42% increase in First Nations People working as Contract, Program, and Project Administrators nationwide. Notably, occupations such as Welfare Support Workers (33%), Aged and Disabled Carers (31%), and Child Carers (22%) have also experienced significant growth among First Nations individuals.

The report highlights the Public Administration industry as the highest employer, with a noteworthy 27% rise in First Nations employment between February 2020 and May 2022. This industry’s growth, coupled with a decreased reliance on hospitality jobs, has contributed to a faster recovery of First Nations employment compared to non-Indigenous employment during the challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Analysing employment growth patterns across different age groups and regions, the First Nations employment and education report uncovers substantial First Nations growth among Plumbers (25%) in metropolitan areas. Conversely, in regional and remote areas, there has been a remarkable 32% increase in the number of First Nations people working as Drillers, Miners, and Shot Firers.

Moreover, the report projects that many First Nations individuals will find employment in community service occupations that are anticipated to experience high growth in the next five years. These occupations include Aged and Disabled Carers, Welfare Support Workers, and Education Aides, presenting promising opportunities for career paths.

While the First Nations employment and education report acknowledges that the proportion of First Nations individuals with tertiary education attainment remains lower than that of non-Indigenous individuals, particularly in remote areas, there is a positive finding to highlight. First Nations individuals with qualifications in high-demand fields have a higher likelihood of securing employment that directly aligns with their studies. For instance, 71% of First Nations individuals who studied education were employed in occupations that used their acquired skills.

Unlocking Employer Perspectives: First Nations Job Applicant Experiences Explored

In a parallel effort to the First Nations Workforce Analysis, JSA administered the Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey to gain insights from around 1,000 employers monthly. This comprehensive survey delved into employers’ encounters with First Nations job applicants and the strategies and programs to facilitate their successful integration into the workplace.

The survey outcomes revealed a 70% success rate for First Nations job applicants. Furthermore, 93% of businesses that hired a First Nations applicant reported seamless adjustment and positive performance within their work environment.

While 52% of businesses implemented transition strategies to support First Nations applicants, such as buddy systems or mentoring programs, adopting more extensive measures like Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) or cultural competency training for staff remained relatively low among employers. Interestingly, larger businesses were more likely to adopt transition strategies (68%), whereas medium-sized and small businesses showed lower adoption rates (50% and 49%, respectively).

Surprisingly, a mere 10% of businesses accessed programs and subsidies designed explicitly for the employment of First Nations applicants. However, the survey’s remarkable 93% success rate for job transitions suggests that the limited uptake of programs or subsidies does not significantly hinder the successful integration of First Nations job applicants. Significantly, medium to small businesses displayed a notable inclination to access programs and subsidies (12% and 11%, respectively), surpassing larger businesses (5%).

Despite the favourable transitions experienced by applicants entering small business workplaces (92% success rate), First Nations individuals encounter slightly lower success rates in securing jobs within small businesses (61% of applicants) compared to medium and large businesses (82% and 73%, respectively).

These reports offer invaluable insights into the current landscape of First Nations employment and education in Australia. While challenges persist, the positive trends and employer experiences highlight significant potential for further enhancements and support for First Nations individuals in the workforce.

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