Young australians navigating the ‘careers information ecology’

Steven Roberts, Ben Lyall, Verity Trott, Elsie Foeken, Jonathan Smith, Brady Robards, Anna Genat, Darren Graf, Callum Jones, Patrick Marple, Catherine Waite, Breanna Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The policy orientations of advanced neoliberal democracies situate young people as rational actors who are responsible for their own career outcomes. While career scholars have been critical of how this routinely ignores the unequal effects of structural constraints on personal agency, they have long suggested that young people should have access to the best available ‘roadmaps’ and advice to navigate the uncertainties baked into the contemporary economic landscape. Complementing the significant attention that is given to the (potentially emancipatory) experience of formal careers guidance, we present findings from a multi-method study. We explore young Australians’ (aged 15–24) navigation of careers information through a nationally representative survey (n = 1103), focus groups with 90 participants and an analysis of 15,227 social media comments. We suggest that the variety of formal and informal sources pursued and accessed by young people forms a relational ‘ecology’. This relationality is twofold. First, information is often sequential, and engagements with one source can inform the experience or pursuit of another. Second, navigation of the ecology is marked by a high level of intersubjectivity through interpersonal support networks including peers, family and formal service provision. These insights trouble a widespread, but perhaps simplistic, reading of young people having largely internalised a neoliberal sensibility of ‘entrepreneurial selfhood’ in their active pursuit of a range of career advice. Throughout our analysis, we attend to the ways that engagement in the career information ecology is shaped by social inequalities, further underscoring challenges facing careers guidance and social justice goals.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Careers
  • Career guidance
  • Youth
  • Youth transistions
  • Social justice

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