Why can’t I find and keep Aboriginal staff?

The other day I was talking to an employer, and they were saying how difficult it is to find Aboriginal staff.  They had a traineeship available, had advertised, had used employment service providers to help find someone, but they still couldn’t get any applicants.  They weren’t about to give up, but they were frustrated.  They were spending time and money on trying to find someone and it just wasn’t working.  They didn’t think they were doing anything wrong.  They were doing what lots of employers do…weren’t they?

I was at another meeting, and another employer told me they have no trouble finding Aboriginal people for jobs, but they just couldn’t keep them in the job.  Their Aboriginal staff stayed a few months at best and then they left.  They were frustrated and didn’t know what else they could do.  They asked if we could expect any Aboriginal people to stay in a job.

Does this sound familiar to you?

The problem is that many employers don’t understand the history or the barriers to Aboriginal employment.  They don’t understand our cultures.  They don’t understand Aboriginal experience.  They don't understand how we experience the workplace.  And they don’t understand how this impacts on Aboriginal employment.  This then becomes its own barrier to succeeding with Aboriginal employment.

And I get it.  I mean, this stuff hasn’t been taught in schools, or elsewhere.  Certainly not in a way that makes it relevant to workplaces trying to make Indigenous employment work.

You see, if you want to have success with Aboriginal employment you need to understand the barriers that Aboriginal people face in finding and keeping work.  You need to understand the barriers to Aboriginal employment.  You need a sound knowledge of the circumstances that led to the disadvantage, effects of discrimination, as well as our cultural differences.

When you understand Aboriginal experience and the barriers to Aboriginal employment, you can begin to make Indigenous employment work.  You can take the next step and learn how to effectively address these barriers within your business and recruitment process.  You can put in place the policies, systems, structures, and relationships that will help you reach your Aboriginal employment goals.  You will be able to find and keep good Aboriginal staff.

When this understanding of Aboriginal experience is embedded in your organisation, you will have a workplace where your Aboriginal staff feel comfortable being an Aboriginal person as well as a contributing staff member.  And you'll realise how crucial this is to the long-term success of Aboriginal employment.

This is the Aboriginal employment dream that many managers and business owners are looking to build.  And it’s completely achievable.

Think about the difference this could make in the lives of Aboriginal people and their families.