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First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

Policy report

Innovative ways of working with Indigenous Australians are needed to improve their employment opportunities in the face of the future of work.

The world of work is changing and some jobs are likely to disappear or significantly change—36% of Australian jobs face a significant or high risk of automation. While this is less than the OECD average (46%), Indigenous Australians are more vulnerable because they tend to work in jobs facing the highest risk of job loss, such as food and beverage services, retail, and construction.

As of 2016, there were almost 798 400 individuals that identified as Indigenous, representing 3.3% of the total population of Australia. This is a 19% increase from 2011. Indigenous Australians tend to be younger and are a growing source of labour supply. There is an opportunity to enable more Indigenous Australians to participate in the labour market and offset growing skills shortages.

At the same time, ongoing labour market transformations could exacerbate employment gaps faced by Indigenous Australians. They had labour market participation rates around 20 percentage points lower than the non-Indigenous population in 2016 (57.1% versus 77.0%). The unemployment rate of Indigenous Australians was 18.4%—almost three times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous Australians at 6.8% in 2016.

Main recommendations:

Building the skills of Indigenous Australians

  • Move Indigenous Australians up the skills ladder
  • Use high-level apprenticeship programmes to provide on-the-job training to Indigenous Australians at a higher skills qualification
  • Embed mentorship into the delivery of employment and training programmes

Connecting Indigenous Australians to jobs

  • Promote place-based employment programmes that advance Indigenous self-determination and empowerment
  • Strengthen the capacity of providers to deliver Indigenous-centred employment programmes
  • Work with employers to promote cross-cultural training
  • Enhance access to preemployment supports to encourage a sustainable job matches
  • Promote stronger local partnerships by reducing administrative burden

Fostering Indigenous job creation in urban areas

  • Promote stronger community engagement with Indigenous Australians
  • Better track Indigenous entrepreneurship activities that provide new avenues for job creation
  • Continue to use procurement policies to promote social inclusion
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