Stay or go: career choice isn’t so simple

We're looking for a journalist at The Murray Valley Standard at the moment.

It's not the first time.

This columnist counts a dozen he has worked with here since 2012.

Ben has been with Yahoo 7, Jo in MP Rob Brokenshire's office, Chanelle at a hair colour company in Colorado, Claire with the ABC in Alice Springs and Casey in real estate here in Murray Bridge; I'm not sure what became of Andrew or Amanda, who were each here for a short time.

Elle, Dylan, Dani and Emmalie remain with Fairfax Media in different roles, while my colleague Nick is settling in nicely.

The turnover is typical of many small workplaces, and especially those which tend employ young professionals who often move from Adelaide to take up jobs.

I can identify with calls for young people to return to country areas, or city folks to be attracted there: I grew up in the Barossa, went to the city to study, then headed out to Port Pirie to get a start, and later to Murray Bridge.

Most of the people I named above have moved elsewhere to further their careers, regardless of whether they were local to begin with.

But let's not imagine the options are as simple as staying or going when one finishes school or study.

Career paths are less certain for younger generations as technology changes the course of whole industries, the workforce becomes more casualised and dreams of careers spent with a single employer pass into history.

So many of my parents' generation would say they intended to stay in a town for 12 months and wound up staying for 20 years.

But that is not always an option any more.

If they can find a job at all, young people cannot often expect it to be secure in the long term.

It's only fair that they be ambitious, or have several backup plans in their minds just in case they cannot stay long enough to put down roots, to buy a house or start a family.

So the problem of keeping young people in regional areas is a complex one that warrants a multi-pronged solution.

We will await the outcome of the parliamentary inquiry that passed through our region this week, and the action that may be taken in response.

Peri Strathearn


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