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1345.4 - SA Stats, Jul 2009  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/07/2009   
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FEATURE ARTICLE: WHAT ARE SOUTH AUSTRALIANS STUDYING?


INTRODUCTION

Education is an investment in personal capital and development. Having a qualification can equip individuals with the knowledge, skills and information that will assist them in entering the labour force. Higher levels of educational attainment are also associated with increased wages and contribute to the growth of Australia's economic position (ABS 2008). Data on fields of current study tell us about the areas in which people will be qualified in the future, and therefore help to assess the potential labour capital of South Australia. Those currently studying may acquire qualifications which will allow them to meet demand for skills and occupations in the labour market.

This article looks at the main fields of study of South Australians, using data from the Survey of Education and Work. The data and analysis below relate to persons aged 15-64 enrolled in a course of study for a qualification, excluding those studying year 12 or below.


MAIN FIELD OF CURRENT STUDY IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA

In 2008 the highest proportion of enrolments in South Australia, and indeed Australia, was in Management and Commerce. This field includes courses in accounting, business, marketing, finance and tourism. Nearly 24% of all enrolments had Management and Commerce as their main field of study, while 21.7% were enrolled in the Society and Culture field.

Main field of current study 2008 (a), South Australia
Graph: Main field of current study 2008 (a), South Australia


Food, Hospitality and Personal Services was one of the least common fields of study in South Australia from 2001 to 2008. Only 2.2% of all enrolments had this as their main field of study in 2008. Some of the courses in this field qualify students to be hairdressers, bakers and cooks, all of which are occupations which have been assessed as being difficult for employers in South Australia to recruit suitably qualified staff (DEEWR 2009).

The most notable change in enrolment was in the field of Health. In 2001, 8.0% of South Australian students were enrolled in this field. This increased to 14.7% in 2008, making it the field of study with the greatest proportional increase over the seven year period. The health field is an area of known labour shortage in South Australia, with nurses, dentists, physiotherapists and other health occupations recognised as being in demand (DEEWR 2009).

Main field of current study (a), South Australia
Graph: Main field of current study (a), South Australia



MAIN FIELD OF CURRENT STUDY BY SEX

The increase in the proportion of enrolments in the field of Health was mainly due to more females undertaking this field of study. In 2001, 10.7% of all female enrolments were in the field of Health, and by 2008 this had increased to 21.8%.

Consistently over the seven year period, a greater proportion of males than females were enrolled in Engineering and Related Technologies. In 2001, 22.8% of males and 1.5% of females were enrolled in this field. There was a similar difference in 2008, with 23.0% of males and 0.4% of females enrolled in this field of current study in South Australia.

In South Australia since 2001, there has been a greater proportion of female students enrolled in Society and Culture than males. This field includes courses in social sciences, behavioural science, welfare, language, law and sport. In 2001, 26.5% of females were enrolled in this field of study in comparison to 10.5% of males. In 2008, the proportions were 26.3% and 16.4% respectively.

FIELDS OF CURRENT STUDY FOR A NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATION, Proportion of enrolments, South Australia

2001
2003
2008
Males
Females
Males
Females
Males
Females
%
%
%
%
%
%

Management and Commerce
24.5
27.2
21.0
28.3
24.1
23.0
Society and Culture
10.5
26.5
13.5
28.4
16.4
26.3
Engineering and Related Technologies
22.8
**1.5
21.0
*3.4
23.0
**0.4
Health
*5.0
10.7
*6.8
13.3
6.6
21.8
Education
*4.6
*8.2
*4.1
*6.8
*2.8
9.2
All other fields
32.7
26.0
33.5
19.8
27.1
19.3

* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
** estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use
Source: Education and Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0), data available on request



MAIN FIELD OF CURRENT STUDY BY AGE

15-24 year olds

Of those enrolled in a field of study in 2008, the three most common fields for South Australians aged 15-24 were Society and Culture (18.1%), Management and Commerce (17.4%) and Engineering and Related Technologies (15.8%). Nationally, the most common field for this age group was Management and Commerce (21.1%), followed by Society and Culture (15.4%).

In 2001, 8.4% of South Australian students aged 15-24 were enrolled in the field of Health. This proportion increased to 14.2% in 2008, making Health the only field of study with significant proportionate growth in South Australia for this age group.

Main field of current study 2008 (a), 15-24 year olds
Graph: Main field of current study 2008 (a), 15-24 year olds


25-34 year olds

Management and Commerce was the most common field of study for those aged 25-34 in 2008, with 27.2% of South Australian students in this age group enrolled in this field. Enrolment in Health among this age group has increased in South Australia over the seven year period. In 2001, 4.1% of South Australian students aged 25-34 were enrolled in this field of study. This grew in 2008 to 16.4%, making it the only field of study in South Australia with significant proportionate growth for those aged 25-34.

Nationally, since 2001 there has been a notable increase in enrolments for this age group in Engineering and Related Technologies. Enrolment increased from 7.5% of Australian 25-34 year old students in 2001 to 10.3% in 2008.

Main field of current study 2008 (a), 25-34 year olds
Graph: Main field of current study 2008 (a), 25-34 year olds


35-64 year olds

In 2008, the most common field of study for South Australian students aged 35-64 was Management and Commerce (32.5% of enrolments), closely followed by Society and Culture (28.6%).

Main field of current study 2008 (a), 35-64 year olds
Graph: Main field of current study 2008 (a), 35-64 year olds



SUMMARY
  • Employers are currently having difficulty recruiting suitably qualified health professionals in South Australia such as nurses, dentists and physiotherapists. Importantly, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of enrolments to study in the field of Health which may help to alleviate the skills shortage in this area in future years.
  • Engineers are also actively sought by employers in South Australia. While this continues to be one of the most common fields of study in South Australia, particularly for males, the proportion of students studying this as their main field has remained largely unchanged over the 2001-2008 period.
  • Although employers are having difficulty recruiting suitably qualified hairdressers and cooks in South Australia, the proportion of enrolments to study Food, Hospitality and Personal Services continues to be one of the lowest in South Australia.


LIST OF REFERENCES

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2001, Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001, (cat. no. 1272.0), ABS, Canberra

ABS 2008, Australian Social Trends, 2008, (cat. no. 4102.0), ABS, Canberra

ABS, Education and Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0), ABS, Canberra, data available on request

DEEWR (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations) 2009, State and Territory Skill Shortage List South Australia, viewed 17 July 2009.


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