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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/06/2001   
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Contents >> Education >> Education and Work: Combining study and work

Education and Work: Combining study and work

Between 1990 and 2000, the number of Australians combining study and work increased by 333,300. Full-time students working part-time accounted for 64% of this growth.

There are a range of reasons people may choose to participate in both study and work at different stages in their lives. For younger students, working part-time may provide a source of personal income and therefore a certain level of independence, as well as work experience which may enhance future employment opportunities. For people already in the workforce, study can be a way of acquiring new skills or upgrading them in order to remain competitive in the labour market. Along with increasing numbers of students, the last decade of the 20th century saw increases in the number of students who were both studying and working.

Over the 1990s, the number of students participating in post-compulsory schooling increased by 28%, with students of all ages between 15 and 64 years contributing to this increase (see Australian Social Trends 2000, Beyond compulsory schooling). Over the same period, the proportion of people who were both working and studying increased from 55% to 58% (1.3 million people in 2000). However, the way that students combined their study and work commitments reflects the diversity in their ages, work experience, previous level of study and family situations. Furthermore, growth in the numbers of students combining study and work did not occur across all combinations of study and work.


Study and work
The data in this article come from the ABS Transition from Education to Work Survey which is conducted by the ABS annually in May. The most recent data available come from the survey conducted in May 2000.

The survey provides information on the education and labour force participation of persons aged 15-64 years, including those attending an educational institution either full-time or part-time who were employed (either full-time or part-time).

Educational institutions include schools; higher education establishments; colleges of technical and further education (TAFEs); and other providers of tertiary education, such as business colleges and industry skills centres.

Persons employed full-time are those who usually work 35 hours a week or more and others who, although usually working less than 35 hours a week, worked 35 hours or more during the reference week of this survey.

Persons employed part-time are those who usually work less than 35 hours a week and who did so during the reference week of this survey.

Average number of hours worked are calculated as the sum of all the hours worked divided by the number of people who worked, during the reference week of this survey.


Combinations of study and work
Most people combining study and work fall into two main groups: full-time students who undertake part-time work, and full-time workers undertaking part-time study. In 2000, 42% and 44% of working students respectively fell into these categories. While these combinations of study and work were also predominant in 1990, the proportion of full-time students who work part-time has increased (from 34%), while the proportion of part-time students working full-time has decreased (from 53%).

PEOPLE WHO COMBINE STUDY AND WORK

1990
1995
2000



‘000
%
‘000
%
‘000
%

Full-time students
    Working full-time
32.2
3.3
29.7
2.5
35.1
2.7
    Working part-time
329.4
33.9
407.1
34.9
542.9
41.6
Part-time students
    Working full-time
511.5
52.6
599.3
51.4
573.6
43.9
    Working part-time
99.4
10.2
130.1
11.2
154.2
11.8
Total people who study and work
972.5
100.0
1,166.1
100.0
1,305.8
100.0
As a proportion of all students
. .
54.8
. .
57.0
. .
57.8

Source: ABS Transition from Education to Work Survey, 1990, 1995 and 2000.


In 2000, close to 12% of working students were combining part-time work and part-time study. Relatively few students (less than 3%) both worked and studied on a full-time basis, and for the remainder of this article data relating to this group will be combined with full-time workers who study part-time.

The ages of students across the different combinations of study and work varied considerably. In 2000, most full-time students working part-time (89%) were aged under 25 years. However, students working full-time were typically older (63% were aged 25 years and over), while part-time students working part-time were distributed in similar proportions across the ages of 15 to 54 years.

AGE DISTRIBUTION OF PEOPLE WHO COMBINE STUDY AND WORK, 2000

(a) Either full-time or part-time.

Source: ABS 2000 Transition from Education to Work Survey.


Full-time students working part-time
In the five years from 1995 to 2000, the number of full-time students working part-time grew from 407,100 to 542,900 people - a greater rate of growth than for any other group of people combining study and work. In keeping with their young age profile, full-time students working part-time were commonly still at school or were continuing with study after completing compulsory schooling. In 2000, 42% of full-time students working part-time were still attending school and 64% were aged 15-19 years. A large proportion of this group was not yet old enough to hold a qualification. Accordingly, this group was the least likely to hold post-school qualifications (14%) of all people combining study and work.

Many young students still live with their parents and are dependent on them to some extent (see Australian Social Trends 2000, Young adults living in the parental home). In 2000, few full-time students working part-time were married (6%), and on average they were not working enough hours (11 hours per week) to earn a full-time wage.

Between 1995 and 2000, the proportion of full-time students working part-time attending higher education institutions increased from 40% to 45%. This partly reflects increased participation levels over the period (see Australian Social Trends 2001, Education: national summary table).

FULL-TIME STUDENTS WORKING PART-TIME

Selected characteristics
1995
2000

%
%
Females
60.1
58.0
Married
3.6
6.3
Born overseas
12.7
18.1
With post-school qualifications
9.2
13.7
Attending school
46.0
41.5
Attending higher education
40.4
45.2
Attending TAFE
11.1
10.8
Attending other institutions
2.5
2.6

years
years
Median age
18
18

hours
hours
Average hours worked
10
11

Source: ABS Transition from Education to Work Survey, 1995 and 2000.


Students working full-time
In 2000, 608,700 students were working full-time, making up almost half of all people combining study and work. However, their numbers had declined slightly since 1995 (by 20,300).

Even if already qualified, further study while working can provide a person with new skills and increase their competitiveness in the labour market or for a particular job. In 2000, over half of the students working full-time already held a post-school qualification and 63% were aged 25 years and over. In addition, 30% of these students were employed as Professionals and 25% as Trade and related workers - occupations where the job holder would usually be expected to already hold a qualification.

Almost half of the full-time workers who were studying were married (45%). The median age of full-time workers who were studying was 28 years and a relatively high number of hours were spent in paid employment each week (43 hours on average). Less than half (42%) of this group were women, which may reflect the fact that many married women in this age group have caring responsibilities for young children. However, over the five years to 2000, the proportion of this group who were women increased from 38%, in keeping with the trend toward delayed parenthood and increased female labour force participation (see Australian Social Trends 2001, Older mothers).

Close to half the students who worked full-time did not have post-school qualifications. Almost 14% of full-time workers who were studying were aged 15-19 years and overall the group was more likely to be attending TAFE (43%) than any other educational institution. It is likely that some of these students were in trainee schemes or undertaking apprenticeships centred around a combination of full-time work and part-time study (see also Australian Social Trends 2000, Developments in contracted training: apprenticeships and trainees).

STUDENTS WORKING FULL-TIME

Selected characteristics
1995
2000

%
%
Females
38.2
41.9
Married
47.5
44.7
Born overseas
18.4
19.2
With post-school qualifications
58.8
55.9
Attending higher education
38.0
35.0
Attending TAFE
43.8
43.2
Attending other institutions
17.4
21.3

years
years
Median age
29
28

hours
hours
Average hours worked
42
43

Source: ABS Transition from Education to Work Survey, 1995 and 2000.


Part-time students working part-time
Despite the increasing proportion of enrolments in full-time study since 1989, over the ten years to 2000 the number of part-time students working part-time increased from 99,400 to 154,200. These students worked more hours per week on average (19 hours) than those committed to full-time study working part-time (11 hours).

Participation in either study or work can be a full-time commitment in its own right. The combination of part-time work with part-time study provides not only balance between the two activities themselves but also the opportunity to meet family commitments and participate in leisure and other activities. This option was one chosen by equal numbers of students across a range of ages, and almost equally by people with and without post-school qualifications, suggesting a variety of reasons for this choice.

That said, more than three quarters of people both studying and working on a part-time basis were women, and close to half had dependent children (compared with 25% of students working full-time and 4% of full-time students working part-time) suggesting that many students in this group were combining part-time work and part-time study with family commitments. In keeping with this, 58% were married.

In 2000, some 25% of these working students were born overseas. This was the highest proportion of overseas born in any of the three groups of working students (although it was only slightly higher than the proportion of overseas born in the Australian population (see Australian Social Trends 2001, Population: national summary table).

PART-TIME STUDENTS WORKING PART-TIME

Selected characteristics
1995
2000

%
%
Females
76.4
77.4
Married
52.9
57.6
Born overseas
19.6
24.7
With post-school qualifications
52.9
53.2
Attending higher education
33.6
31.6
Attending TAFE
46.7
41.1
Attending other institutions
18.2
25.9

years
years
Median age
34
35

hours
hours
Average hours worked
19
19

Source: ABS Transition from Education to Work Survey, 1995 and 2000.

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