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4211.0 - Education and Training Matters (Newsletter), Dec 2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2007   
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EDUCATION AND TRAINING MATTERS

Welcome to the second edition of Education and Training Matters, the biannual newsletter of the National Centre for Education and Training Statistics (NCETS) at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This newsletter highlights recent developments in education and training statistics and informs readers of NCETS work in progress.

CONTENTS

From the Director's chair
The role of NCETS
Recent developments in education and training statistics
Adult Literacy and Life Skills
Education and training related publications
Further contact


FROM THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR

The final weeks of 2007 will be a very busy period for NCETS with the release of three surveys. The 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALLS), which was part of an international survey program, was released on 28 November. The annual Survey of Education and Work is scheduled for release on 18 December, and the new Adult Learning Survey will be released on 21 December. NCETS has been working in collaboration with the Household Survey Branch in the ABS' South Australian office, to produce comprehensive data sets from these surveys, that will meet the needs of policy makers, researchers and the broader community.

The 2006 ALLS provides a rich data set that enables comparison of Australians' literacy skill levels to those of other countries. It also enables any change in skill levels since 1996 to be determined. A sample of 8,988 persons aged 15–74 years was assessed over four key domains: prose literacy, document literacy, numeracy, and problem solving.

ALLS, which contains data which is comparable to the 1996 Survey of Aspects of Literacy, included the following new topics: use of technologies, social capital and well-being. You can access the ALLS summary publication through the following link: Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, Summary Results, Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 4228.0). You can also view a brief sample of the results and find out about other related products, by reading the section Adult Literacy and Life Skills below.

The 2006–07 Adult Learning Survey collected information from persons aged 25–64 years about their participation in formal, non-formal and informal learning. The survey provides details on the main fields of study, learning opportunities available to individuals, and obstacles to learning that have been experienced by participants.

In addition to the release of the abovementioned surveys, we have been busy undertaking a project aimed at improving the collection and reporting of data on early childhood learning. The ABS assessed existing measures of early childhood learning, along with stakeholder information needs, and determined a further set of national measures on early childhood learning. These measures may be used by a range of government agencies and other organisations to inform policy development. The project also examined data developments which could support the need for better quality and availability of statistics on early childhood learning. The findings of the project so far, and possible future directions for the continuation of the project, are detailed in the Information Paper 'Measuring Learning in Australia: Concepts and Directions in Early Childhood Learning' (cat. no. 4232.0). It is scheduled for release on 20 December.

You can find out more about recent developments and current NCETS projects in the following sections of this newsletter. We welcome your comments and feedback on any of our publications and reports, and are keen to assist you if you have any questions related to education and training statistics and research. We wish you all a relaxing holiday period, and look forward to informing you of many new statistical developments in 2008.

Dr Chris Duncan
Director
National Centre for Education and Training Statistics


THE ROLE OF NCETS

The National Centre for Education and Training Statistics (NCETS) is based at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in Canberra. It has responsibility for:
  • collecting, disseminating, and promoting the use of quality education and training data.
  • developing and promoting the use of standard concepts, definitions and classifications for education and training statistics.
NCETS is represented on, and provides statistical and technical advice and support to a number of committees and working groups on a range of education and training policies and programmes. Our work within jurisdictions is complemented by a strong network of ABS state and territory Education Statistics Liaison Officers.

You can find out more about NCETS on the Education and Training Noticeboard, under 'The National Centre for Education and Training Statistics'.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN EDUCATION AND TRAINING STATISTICS

As noted above, the recent release of the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, and the soon to be released Adult Learning Survey, will be of interest to policy makers, researchers, educators and the community.

The education module in the 2006 Census of Population and Housing includes the variable 'Level of Highest Educational Attainment'. You can read about this and other education variables in Census Dictionary Australia, 2006 (Reissue) (cat. no. 2901.0). The Census home page will direct you to the array of Census publications, electronic products and services that are currently available. You can also search for data based primarily on a selected location or topic, or you can go straight to one of the on-line tools to access data in the format you need.

The Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2007 (cat. no. 1136.0) has recently been updated. The directory provides a rapid guide to the growing range of statistical resources related to education and training activity in Australia, from both ABS and other sources. It provides a summary of the scope, frequency, data items and related products associated with each ABS statistical collection. Similar information pertaining to a number of non-ABS collections, along with links to relevant websites, is also published in the directory.

More information related to recent developments in Education and Training is available on the Education and Training Noticeboard, under 'What's New'.

ADULT LITERACY AND LIFESKILLS

The 2006 ALLS survey was conducted as part of an international adult literacy survey which was coordinated by the OECD. The first international adult literacy survey was conducted in Australia by the ABS in 1996 and the findings were published in Aspects of Literacy (cat. no. 4228.0).
    The 2006 survey, which is based on a sample of 8,988 persons aged 15-74 years, assessed four key literacy domains: prose literacy, document literacy, numeracy and problem solving. In addition, a 'health literacy' domain has been derived from responses to relevant textual material included in the four key domains. A variety of new topics, including the use of technologies, social capital, and well-being, were part of the 2006 survey.

    The following findings provide an insight in to the comprehensiveness of the ALLS data set.

    The results from ALLS show that document literacy levels tend to decrease with age, with higher proportions of people in the older age groups attaining skill scores below Level 3, which is considered to be the minimum level of literacy required in order to meet complex tasks in everyday life. The exception to this was that people aged 15–24 years had lower levels of literacy than those aged 25–39 years. Of those aged 15–24 years, 42% attained skill scores below Level 3 on the document literacy scale, compared to 36% of those aged 25–39 years.

    The finding of ALLS show that literacy levels have improved since 1996, with more people achieving skill scores above Level 2. Comparing document literacy levels in 1996 to those in 2006, there were statistically significant changes across the older population, with decreases in the proportions attaining Level 1, and increases in the proportions attaining Levels 2 and 3 (graph 1). On the document scale, there was a statistically significant decrease in the proportion of those aged 55–64 who attained skill Level 1. For all other age groups, there were no statistically significant changes from 1996.


    Graph: Document Literacy, persons aged 55-74 years, Australia



    You can find out much more about the Literacy skills of Australians and about the conduct of the survey in Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, Summary Results, Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 4228.0). For data analysts, basic and expanded Confidentialised Unit Record Files are expected to be released in January 2008. State and territory tables, which are also due for release in January 2008, will be published on the ABS website.

    EDUCATION AND TRAINING RELATED PUBLICATIONS

    Australian Social Trends, 2007 (cat. no. 4102.0) released in August 2007, draws on a wide range of ABS statistics and statistics from other official sources, to present information on aspects of Australian society, and how these are changing over time. The education and training chapter of Australian Social Trends includes the articles: Qualification profile of Australians; Training for a trade; and International students in Australia. Summary tables and graphs included in the chapter provide information about the changes that have taken place at the national level over a decade, and differences across states and territories for the most recent year. Data cubes are also available and provide information on various aspects of education and training, including participants, education outcomes, and labour market outcomes.

    A Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2007 (cat. no. 1136.0) was released to the web in July 2007. This popular product a very useful guide to the range of ABS and non-ABS statistical resources related to education and training activity in Australia.

    The annual Survey of Education and Work will published as Education and Work, Australia, May 2007 (cat. no. 6227.0), expected to be released on 18 December 2007.

    The new publication, Adult Learning, Australia, 2006–07 (cat. no. 4229.0) is expected to be released on 21 December 2007.

    Results of the August 2007 National Schools Statistics Collection will be released in Schools, Australia, 2007, (cat. no. 4221.0) on 28 February 2008. These results include information about students, school affiliation and staff, and this release will premiere new measures of student progression through their schooling. Detailed datacubes and time-series spreadsheets will also be released by late March.

    The Information Paper: Measuring Learning in Australia: A Profile of Participation and Outcomes, June 2006 (cat. no. 4234.0.55.001) presents a proposed suite of measures that provide a picture of the education and training pathways and outcomes of Australians. The proposed measures are considered to provide relevant and quality data for comparable analysis across states and territories. It is expected to be released in March 2008.

    For information about recently released ABS publications related to education and training statistics, please see Education and Training Releases on the Education and Training theme page. For information about the range of statistical collections or key statistical publications that have at least some education and training content (whether ABS or non-ABS), please see the publication A Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2007 (cat. no. 1136.0).

    Links to other sources of education and training statistics are located via Other Related Sources of Information, on the Education and Training theme page.


    FURTHER CONTACT

    Contacting NCETS

    Director: Dr Chris Duncan
    Email: christopher.duncan@abs.gov.au
    Phone: (02) 6252 5936
    Fax: (02) 6252 7784
    Mobile: 0419 412 770

    Postal address:
    National Centre for Education and Training Statistics
    Australian Bureau of Statistics
    Locked Bag 10

    BELCONNEN ACT 2616

    Statistical inquiries

    The ABS' National Information and Referral Service is the first point of contact for all your statistical and publication enquiries.
    Phone: 1300 135 070
    Fax: 1300 135 211
    Post: Client Services, ABS, GPO Box 796, Sydney 1041
    Email: client.services@abs.gov.au, and you will be contacted within two working days.

    Contacting ABS state and territory Education Statistics Liaison Officers

    New South Wales
    Ph: (02) 9268 4651
    Email: tanya.dart@abs.gov.au

    Victoria
    Ph: (03) 9615 7069
    Email: stella.young@abs.gov.au

    Queensland
    Ph: (07) 3222 6488
    Email: mark.hudson@abs.gov.au

    South Australia
    Ph: (08) 8237 7336
    Email: stuart.finlay@abs.gov.au

    Western Australia
    Ph: (08) 9360 5920
    Email: andy.separovic@abs.gov.au

    Tasmania
    Ph: (03) 9615 7211
    Email: dj.obrien@abs.gov.au

    Northern Territory
    Ph: (08) 8943 2188
    Email: rebecca.luxford@abs.gov.au

    Australian Capital Territory
    Ph: (02) 6252 8909
    Email: rhonda.devos@abs.gov.au

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