What is it about?

This study explores the strategies used by disadvantaged young people in Australia to improve their chances of employment and the challenges they face in this process. The research found three main strategies: acquiring qualifications to meet job requirements, gaining work experience in a competitive job market, and overcoming economic and social obstacles to maintain stable employment. However, these strategies are often hindered by individual and structural challenges, such as unstable housing, unreliable transport, and lack of social networks and mentors. The study also highlights the mismatch between the dominant narratives of employability in education and employment policy and the actual economic, social, and labor market challenges faced by disadvantaged job-seekers.

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Why is it important?

This research is important because it sheds light on the unique challenges faced by disadvantaged young people in Australia in their pursuit of stable employment. It highlights the need for more effective support systems and policies that address these challenges and align better with the realities of the job market. The findings can inform the development of more targeted and effective interventions to improve the employability of disadvantaged youth.


As a researcher, I found it striking how the dominant narratives of employability often fail to reflect the realities faced by disadvantaged young people. The study underscores the need for a more nuanced understanding of employability that takes into account the individual and structural challenges faced by this group. It also highlights the importance of providing more targeted and effective support to help these young people navigate the job market and secure stable employment.

Paula McDonald
Queensland University of Technology

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Navigating employability from the bottom up, Journal of Youth Studies, May 2019, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/13676261.2019.1620925.
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