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2016 Researcher of the Year Winner - Jennifer Luke

Retirees returning to work can face barriers including a lack of confidence, age discrimination and injury or disability.

It was these barriers that drove the 2016 CDAA Researcher of the Year winner Jennifer Luke to study the workforce participation of retirees.

“Over the past few years, I have continually encountered a large number of mature age or retired clients facing issues, fears and uncertainties,” she said.

“This spurred me to return to university to complete postgraduate studies in career development with this age cohort in mind for future research.”

Jennifer completed her Masters in this area at the University of Southern Queensland in 2014 and is now embarking on her PHD.

“During this time and after, my aim is to be involved in as many research opportunities that become available in the career development/vocational psychology field,” she said.

“In particular, with encouraging age diversity in the workplace and my current research cohort of retirees.”

However, Jennifer has not always worked in career development, starting out in the Information Technology sector as a Multimedia Developer.

This eventually led her into Vocational Training and Assessing and the Computer Employment Industry. Then after a short break in Canada in 2011, she returned to commence her postgraduate studies.

“Starting my postgraduate studies at the University of Southern Queensland, I felt I had found the career path I wanted to continue in,” she said.

Jennifer now works as a Career Development Consultant and Resource Developer at the university while completing her PHD.

“The practical and theory mix involved in my work has been fantastic. Working within a university environment so far has been one of support and teamwork,” she said.

Having now settled in her chosen field, Jennifer said she loves how career development is an ongoing process, involving proactive life management.

“No matter the stage of the lifecycle a person is in, you never stop learning. Everyone has skills, abilities and experience that can be discovered and recognised through career development strategies,” she said.

Through this passion and her hard work in research, Jennifer has now been recognised for her achievements, receiving the Researcher of the Year award.

“I have been living in a bit of a buddle while researching and to have the research out there finally and then being acknowledged by CDAA was very much appreciated and slightly overwhelming,” she said.

“I am very grateful and excited to have drawn focus towards my research target of retirees and their path to encore careers.”