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Skill shortages in the WA resource sector

Carving out a future for indigenous ex-prisoners

Many studies of the impacts of correctional education on labour market outcomes and recidivism treat ex-prisoners as a homogeneous group. That is, these studies examine whether on average, in-prison study has an impact on re-arrest or re-incarceration rates and post release employment rates.

Other studies examine differences in recidivism and employment in terms of different ages, genders, work experience and education but do not necessarily link these differences to differences in correctional education participation or results. Importantly, no studies have been found that compare the labour market outcomes and recidivism of indigenous and non-indigenous ex-prisoners in terms of their in-prison study.

In a 2003 study of the expected labour market outcomes of adult prisoners in Western Australia, Giles et al. (2007) reported that those prisoners who had completed vocational training courses expected better outcomes than those that did non-vocational education courses, and that those indigenous prisoners with three prison terms could expect the same labour market futures as non-indigenous prisoners with only one period of incarceration.

In a current study, Giles and Whale (2012) report the development of a unique longitudinal database, WA DCS – Centrelink dataset for 2005 to 2010, based on WA Department of Corrective Services administration and training data linked with Centrelink’s income support data. These data link welfare benefit histories (commencement and exit dates for each period on income support, allowance type and reason for exit from welfare) to in-prison classes (course content, level and type) and other characteristics of prisoners/ex-prisoners (age, gender, residential location, sentence and offence types).

Research methods

The purpose of the proposed study is to use the WA DCS – Centrelink dataset for 2005 to 2010 (Giles and Whale, 2012) to map the industry categories and occupations related to the courses studied in prison by indigenous prisoners to the industry categories for skill needs and shortages in the WA resources sector.

Research outcomes

The study will achieve two outcomes. First, it will highlight those courses of most benefit (defined in terms of reduced recidivism and welfare dependence) to indigenous prisoners who return post-release to the Pilbara and Kimberley regions and are seeking employment using the skills developed in these courses. Second, the study will show those occupations and industries that can best be served by an indigenous ex-prisoner workforce.


Funding body

Faculty of Business and Law, Strategic Research Fund.


October 2012 - October 2013.

This project is a sub-project of The requirements of innovative practices in the WA resources sector.

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