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Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Publication details for Dr Caitlin Nunn

Nunn, C., McMichael, C., Gifford, S.M. & Correa-Velez, I. (2014). ‘I came to this country for a better life’ factors mediating employment trajectories among young people who migrated to Australia as refugees during adolescence. Journal of Youth Studies 17(9): 1205-1220.

Author(s) from Durham


Located at the intersection of two vulnerable groups in the contemporary labour market, young people who migrate as refugees during adolescence face a unique constellation of opportunities and challenges that shape their employment trajectories. Yet, the tendency for research to focus on the early years of refugee settlement means that we have an inadequate understanding of the factors that mediate their employment decisions, experiences and outcomes. Based on interviews with 51 young people, this article explores how aspirations, responsibilities, family, education and networks are understood to influence the employment trajectories of adolescent refugee migrants. While this article draws attention to the complex and dynamic range of challenges and constraints that these young people negotiate in the pursuit of satisfying and sustainable employment, what also emerges is an optimistic and determined cohort who, even as they at times unsuccessfully prepare for and navigate the labour market, maintain high hopes for a better life.