Indigenous students aspirations: An in-depth analysis of Indigenous students' career aspirations and factors that impact on their formulation

Year: 2003

Author: Parente, Adrian, Craven, Rhonda, Munns, Geoff, Marder, Kurt

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This study was commissioned by the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) under its Education Innovation Program (EIP). This paper reports on aspects of the qualitative component of the study. The aims of this component of the study included to: 1) identify Indigenous secondary school students' aspirations; 2) identify Indigenous students' perceptions of the relevance of their current studies and of further education to achieve their aspirations; 3) identify Indigenous students' preferences for further education in regard to vocational education and higher education; 4) identify the key sources of and quality of career advice Indigenous students have received; 5) identify the ability of Indigenous students to differentiate between desirable and attainable goals and understand perquisites on achieving said goals; 6) elucidate Indigenous students' perceptions of any barriers they may face in attaining their aspirations; and 7) Identify and elucidate what parents of Indigenous students perceive as the value of further education and training. Whilst all students had similar life goals Indigenous students were: more likely to identify lower levels of educational and training aspirations, identify more barriers to achieving their aspirations, have less knowledge about further education and training, were less likely to formulate alternative preferences or strategies to achieve their aspirations, and less of an understanding on the relevance of academic choices as it pertains to further education and training. The results also identified that Indigenous students were more likely to want to work in areas that are beneficial to their communities and identified more altruistic reasons for career choices. Parents of Indigenous students indicated that education systems and schools were more accommodating of Indigenous students today but still needed reform to cater for Indigenous students. Parents also indicated at feeling frustrated in their ability to provide adequate academic and social support for their children whilst also recognizing the significant barriers impacting on and impeding their child's abilities to make informed decisions and to attain their aspirations. Indigenous students also indicated that they were less likely to seek advice about career choices and subsequently lacked the appropriate knowledge and understandings of academic choices and their impact on their overall aspirations. Careers programs whilst trying to assist all students seems to lack resources to adequately cope with Indigenous students' needs. The findings in this component of the project supported and enriched the findings of the quantitative component of the study whilst also providing a significant insight into the mindset of Indigenous students and parents about their dreams and nightmares.