Exposing education and career pathways to share opportunities and benefits: rural community partnerships

Year: 2021

Author: Kilpatrick, Sue

Type of paper: Symposium

Traditionally, in Australia as in many other countries, rural regional and remote (RRR) populations have lower education attainment than urban populations, which affects the ability to take advantage of available opportunities including for employment in jobs requiring higher post-school qualifications. Further, many local jobs are changing rapidly as rural industries embrace modern technology, and the nature of current and future jobs is not evident to many living in RRR communities. Our previous research found that young people and others rarely make education and career decisions alone –   advice and support was sought from families, teachers, employers and other community members who influenced their decisions, termed key influencers. While key influencers in rural communities generally want to support people to make optimal education and career pathway decisions, many lack the confidence and knowledge to support people to navigate complex education and career pathways from RRR communities to skilled jobs.   This presentation reports findings from our key influencers project which worked in partnership with three RRR communities in two states to create interventions intended to increase the confidence and knowledge of key influencers to support other community members’ education and career pathway decisions. The project addressed the research question: How can external agencies such as universities work in a supportive partnership with RRR communities to assist them to expose and promote local careers and the education pathways to those careers? This presentation focuses on the processes used to select and deliver interventions and the fit of those interventions with the context of each community. Findings suggest that factors which increase the impact of the project on the confidence and knowledge of key influencers were: involving credible, trusted local people and institutions such as schools and local government in selecting interventions and organising their delivery; ensuring interventions were authentic to the rural context, involving people working in local jobs or having successfully navigated pathways; ensuing interventions were delivered at times and in ways that were accessible for key influencers; and being responsive and flexible.