SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
In May 2015 it was estimated that, of the 15.7 million people aged 15 to 64 years in Australia, 3 million, or nearly 1 in 5 people (19%), were enrolled in formal study. Of these, 1.2 million people were aged 15 to 19 years, and 718,800 people were aged 20 to 24 years.
Of people aged 15 to 19 years, 83% were engaged in study. This proportion then declined with age: 44% of persons aged 20 to 24 years were engaged in study, declining to 16% of persons aged 25 to 34 years, 9.4% aged 35 to 44 years, 5% aged 45 to 54 years and 2.4% of those aged 55 to 64 years.
Females were more likely than males to be engaged in study, with 20% of females currently studying towards a qualification compared with 18% of males.
Fifteen percent of employed people aged 15 to 64 years were studying for a qualification in May 2015.
The majority of people aged 15 to 64 years who were enrolled in study in May 2015 were Australian or New Zealand citizens (88%). However, Australian or New Zealand citizens (19%) were less likely to be studying than those who were not Australian or New Zealand citizens (24%). This reflects a large proportion of those who were not Australian or New Zealand citizens being on temporary visas (including student visas), of whom 41% were in study. (Table 1)
Nearly three-quarters (71%) of 15 to 64 year olds enrolled in formal study were studying non-school qualifications, and over one-quarter (29%) were enrolled in school level study. Most of these people were enrolled full-time (65%), with just over one-third enrolled part-time (35%). Two in five people (40%) studying a non-school qualification were enrolled in a Bachelor degree, and one in five people were enrolled in a Certificate III or IV (20%). (Table 2, 3)
Of those engaged in study, approximately 1.2 million (41%) were attending a higher education institution, 884,000 (29%) were at school, 474,400 (16%) were at Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions and 404,200 (13%) were at other educational institutions or organisations. (Table 2)
Similar proportions of males and females studying for a non-school qualification were undertaking Bachelor degrees (40%), while males were more likely than females to be enrolled in Certificates III and IV (23% compared with 17%). (Table 5)
As in previous years, the most commonly reported main field of study for people aged 15 to 64 years enrolled in a non-school qualification was Management and commerce (23% of those enrolled) followed by Society and culture (21%). People studying Information technology decreased from 8.5% of those enrolled in 2001 to 3.2% in 2015, while the proportion of people studying Health increased from 8.7% to 14% over the same period. A larger proportion of females than males who were studying did so in the fields of Society and culture (25% and 14% respectively) and Health (18% and 8.5% respectively), while one-fifth (20%) of males were studying Engineering and related technologies, compared with 1.7% of females. (Table 6)
LEVEL OF HIGHEST NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATION
In May 2015, 59% of people aged 15 to 74 years had completed a non-school qualification. The proportion of males (60%) with a non-school qualification was higher than the proportion of females (57%). People who were Australian or New Zealand citizens (58%) were less likely to have a non-school qualification than people who were not Australian or New Zealand citizens (68%).Three quarters (75%) of temporary residents in Australia on visas other than student visas had completed a non-school qualification.
Persons aged over 55 years were less likely to have a non-school qualification than those aged 25 to 44 years. The proportion with a non-school qualification in both the 25 to 34 year age group and the 35 to 44 year age group was 73%, compared with 58% for people aged 55 to 64 years and 45% for people aged 65 to 74 years.
Two-thirds (67%) of employed people aged 15 to 74 years had completed a non-school qualification, compared with half (50%) of unemployed people, and 40% of people who were not in the labour force. (Table 7)
Of the 10.4 million people aged 15 to 74 years with a non-school qualification, almost one in three (31% or 3.3 million people) had a Certificate III or IV as their highest non-school qualification and almost one-third (29% or 3 million) had a Bachelor degree. The majority of people completed these qualifications in Australia (84%). (Table 8)
The most common main fields of study for highest non-school qualifications were Management and commerce (23%) and Engineering and related technologies (18%). (Table 12)
Two-thirds (68%) of employed people aged 15 to 74 years with a Certificate III or IV qualification were male, and more than one-third (37%) of people with this qualification worked as Technicians and trades workers. Of the employed people with a Bachelor degree, 34% were aged 25 to 34 years and 54% were employed as Professionals. (Table 10)
In the past 25 years the proportion of males aged 15 to 64 years with a non-school qualification rose from 45% in 1990 to 61% in 2015 while among females the proportion rose more rapidly, from 34% to 60%. Since 1990 the proportion of males aged 15 to 64 years with a Bachelor degree or higher qualification more than doubled from 9.9% to 24% in 2015 compared to the four-fold increase for females from 6.8% to 29% in 2015. (Table 11, Data Cube 13)
Level of Highest Educational Attainment
Over a quarter (26%) of people aged 15 to 74 years reported their highest educational attainment as Year 11 or below and 18% reported Year 12 or equivalent. A further 18% had a highest level of attainment of a Certificate III or IV, 17% had a Bachelor degree, 3.0% had a Graduate diploma or Graduate certificate and 5.6% had a Postgraduate degree. Almost two-fifths (39%) of people in the ACT had a Bachelor degree or above as their highest level of educational attainment, the highest proportion of all states and territories.
A higher proportion of males than females reported their level of highest educational attainment as Certificate III or IV, with 24% of all males reporting this qualification, compared with 13% of females. However, a higher proportion of females (28%) than males (23%) had obtained a Bachelor degree or higher qualification. (Table 13)
TRANSITION FROM EDUCATION TO WORK
Completing a non-school qualification
In May 2015, there were 1.3 million people aged 15 to 74 years who had completed the non-school qualification in which they were enrolled in 2014. Almost four out of five (79%) of these were employed in May 2015, one in eight (13%) were not in the labour force, while one in fourteen (7.8%) were unemployed. (Table 14)
There were 264,200 people aged 15 to 24 years who were enrolled in secondary school in 2014 but were not enrolled in May 2015. Of these school leavers, 79% had completed Year 12 or equivalent.
In 2015, 58% (152,700 people) of all school leavers were enrolled in formal study at a non-school institution. The number of school leavers who were not studying was 111,400 (42%) and of these, 67,100 (60%) were employed. (Table 17)
Of all people aged 15 to 24 years who were not at school in May 2015, over one-third are employed full-time (35%) and almost one-third are in full-time study (32%). Fourteen percent are not employed and not studying. (Table 15)
APPRENTICES AND TRAINEES
In May 2015, there were 193,700 people aged 15 to 64 years who were employed as apprentices or trainees and part of the Australian Apprenticeship Scheme. Of these, 94,000 people (49%) had commenced their apprenticeship or traineeship in the last 12 months. The majority of apprentices or trainees were male (78%). As in previous years, construction was the most common industry for apprentices and trainees, with 38% (72,700 people) employed in this industry. (Table 19)
There were 12,700 people who gained a place for an apprenticeship/traineeship but were not undertaking it in May 2015, while 27,400 people who applied for an apprenticeship/traineeship were unsuccessful in gaining a place in 2015. (Table 20)
LABOUR FORCE STATUS
People with higher levels of educational attainment were more likely to be employed, with 81% of persons with a Bachelor degree or above and 76% of persons with an Advanced diploma, Diploma or Certificate III or IV being employed. This compares with 66% of persons with Year 12 as their highest attainment and 44% with Year 11 or below as their highest attainment. (Table 21)
Females with dependent children were less likely to be in full-time employment (28%) than males with dependent children (83%). Females were more likely to be in part-time employment (36% compared with 7.5%) or not in the labour force (32% compared with 6.8%). A similar trend was evident when males and females with all levels of highest educational attainment were compared. Females with a youngest child aged less than five years were more likely to not be in the labour force (41%) than females whose youngest child was aged 5 to 9 years (25%) or females whose youngest child was aged 10 to 14 years (21%).
Females with dependent children who had a Bachelor degree or above were more likely to be employed than those with other levels of educational attainment. Just over three quarters (76%) with a Bachelor degree or above were employed compared with 41% who had Year 11 or below. (Table 21)
This page last updated 27 November 2015