Policy report

Pacific adolescent career pathways: a report on future labour market opportunities and education pathways for Pacific peoples

1 Sep 2014

Purpose of research

The Pacific Adolescent Career Pathways research is a longitudinal study that explores and addresses information gaps in the formative years of career planning of Pacific adolescents. In particular, it was designed to gain an understanding of students’ careers choices and the factors that influence them. The research findings provide a rich description of Pacific students’ experiences and a foundation for agencies to develop recommendations for policy development and delivery of career-based services for Pacific youth.

Research focus

The study follows 918 Pacific secondary school students from Year 9 to Year 11. It tracks career pathway development, aspirations and career management competencies, and explores the major influences on students’ career aspirations, early subject choices and career decisions.

Overview of findings

The study highlights the need for measures to be developed that enable, encourage and support Pacific students to:

• maintain and pursue high educational and career aspirations

• maintain expectations that they can achieve their aspirations

• make informed early subject choices

• be aware of how early subject choices can affect their future qualifications and employment opportunities

• be aware of the financial impact of student debt resulting from enrolment in subjects or withdrawing from them before completion.

Overall, the research findings show that students need increased access to support when selecting subjects during their formative secondary school years. Subject selection is a critical component of students’ career planning, yet access to and use of potential sources of help do not appear to receive the same degree of attention as does career planning. In relation to compulsory subjects, most students strongly agreed that English is essential for enabling and achieving future study and career goals.

Students’ awareness, however, needs to be increased with regard to:

• the career opportunities that are reliant on maths and science

• the government initiatives available to increase Pacific representation in the health and trades workforces

• the academies and other support available in specific school settings for students to develop their vocational pathways.

The research results indicate that, despite supportive surroundings (at school and home), psycho-social factors such as self-belief, confidence and motivation are lacking for many students. While it is commendable that investment has been made in resources to educate Pacific parents, families and communities, investment in activities that focus on enhancing the self-confidence and self-belief of students in school settings is limited. This is despite school principals perceiving that a strong sense of school spirit, sense of belonging, selfpride, confidence, esteem and motivation are important enablers to enhancing Pacific learners’ achievements.

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