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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
In May 2016 it was estimated that, of the 15.7 million people aged 15 to 64 years in Australia, over 3 million, or nearly 1 in 5 people (20%), were enrolled in formal study. Of these, 1.2 million people were aged 15 to 19 years, and 741,100 people were aged 20 to 24 years. (Table 1)
The proportion of people studying has increased across most demographics over the last ten years. Among young women aged 15 to 24 years, the proportion studying increased from 56% in 2006 to 64% in 2016, while for young men the proportion increased from 55% to 61%. Within the older age cohort of 25 to 64 year olds, the proportion of women studying increased from 7.9% to 10.5% in the last decade, whilst for men, the increase was from 5.7% to 7.2% over the same period. (Table 22)
In May 2016, the majority of 15 to 19 year olds (83%) were engaged in study. This proportion then declined with age: 45% of persons aged 20 to 24 years were engaged in study, declining to 16% of persons aged 25 to 34 years, 9.2% aged 35 to 44 years, 5.7% aged 45 to 54 years and 2.7% of those aged 55 to 64 years.
Females were more likely than males to be engaged in study, with 21% 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 2016. (Table 1)
Nearly three-quarters of 15 to 64 year olds (73% or 2.2 million people) enrolled in formal study were studying non-school qualifications, and over one-quarter (27%) were enrolled in school level study. Most of these people were enrolled full-time (67%), with the remaining third enrolled part-time (33%). Two in five people (42%) studying a non-school qualification were enrolled in a Bachelor degree, and almost one in five people were enrolled in a Certificate III or IV (19%). (Table 2)
Of those engaged in study, approximately 1.3 million (43%) were attending a higher education institution, 869,000 (28%) were at school, 498,800 (16%) were at Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions and 389,000 (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 (42% and 41%, respectively), while males were more likely than females to be enrolled in Certificates III and IV (22% compared with 16%). Females were more likely than males to be studying a Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate (4.5% compared to 2.8%) and an Advanced Diploma or Diploma (17% compared to 12%). (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 (24% of those enrolled) followed by Society and culture (21%). While there were no differences in the reported main field of study since 2015, there are differences over the longer term. The proportion of people studying Engineering and related technologies decreased from 12% of those enrolled in 2008 to 8.8% in 2016, while the proportion of people studying Health increased from 11% to 14% over the same period. A larger proportion of females than males who were studying, in 2016, did so in the fields of Health (19% and 8.2% respectively) and Society and culture (26% and 15% respectively), while almost one-fifth (18%) of males were studying Engineering and related technologies, compared with 1.4% of females. (Table 6 and Graph 1)
Graph 1: Currently studying a non-school qualification, by main field of study and sex(a)
Footnote(s): (a) Persons currently studying a non-school qualification, aged 15 to 64 years; (b) Includes Natural and physical sciences; Agriculture, environmental and related studies; Creative arts and Food and hospitality services; Mixed field programmes and Field not determined.
Source(s): Education and Work, Australia, May 2016
Of people aged 15 to 19 years who were enrolled in school level study in May 2016, almost one in five (19% or 156,300 people) were undertaking vocational education and training (VET) subjects or courses as part of their school studies. (Table 7)
LEVEL OF HIGHEST NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATION
In May 2016, 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 (58%).
Persons aged over 45 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 the 25 to 34 year age group and the 35 to 44 year age group was similar, at 73% and 72% respectively, compared with 66% for 45 to 54 year olds, 58% for 55 to 64 year olds and 47% for 65 to 74 year olds.
Two-thirds (67%) of employed people aged 15 to 74 years had completed a non-school qualification, compared with half (51%) of unemployed people, and 41% of people who were not in the labour force. (Table 13)
Of employed persons aged 15 to 74 years with a non-school qualification, males were more likely to have a Certificate III or IV qualification (38%) than any other qualification, while females were more likely to have a Bachelor degree (35%). Of those with a Certificate III or IV qualification, one-third (34%) worked as Technicians and trades workers, while half (52%) of those with a Bachelor degree were employed as Professionals. Of all employed persons with a non-school qualification, the industry they were most commonly employed in was Health care and social assistance (16%), while employed persons without a non-school qualification were most commonly employed in the Retail trade industry sector (17%). (Table 14 and Graph 2)
Graph 2: Employed persons with a non-school qualification, by level and sex(a)
Footnote(s): (a) Employed persons with a non-school qualification, aged 15 to 74 years
Source(s): Education and Work, Australia, May 2016
Of the 10.5 million people aged 15 to 74 years with a non-school qualification, 44% (4.6 million people) had a Bachelor degree or higher qualification. The majority of people completed their qualifications in Australia (84%). (Table 16) The proportion of people aged 15 to 74 years who held a qualification above a Bachelor degree level has more than tripled in the last 30 years (7.2% in 1986, compared to 26% in 2016). (Table 29)
The most common main field of study for highest non-school qualifications was Management and commerce (23%), followed by Engineering and related technologies (17%), Society and culture (15%) and Health (11%). Males were more likely to have their highest non-school qualification in the field of Engineering and related technologies (31%) than any other field, followed by Management and commerce (19%). Females were more likely to have their highest non-school qualification in the field of Management and commerce (27%), followed by Society and culture (20%). (Table 15)
The proportion of males and females with a non-school qualification has converged in the last decade. In 2006, 60% of males aged 20 to 64 years had a non-school qualification compared to 55% of females in the same age group. In 2016, the proportion for males and females is the same (66% for both) among this age group. (Table 25) In addition, the proportion of people aged 20-64 years with a Certificate III or higher qualification rose from 49% in 2006 to 61% in 2016. (Table 26)
Level of Highest Educational Attainment
In May 2016, a quarter (25%) 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, 2.8% had a Graduate diploma or Graduate certificate and 5.5% had a Postgraduate degree. Two-fifths (41%) 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.
The proportion of people aged 20 to 64 years with Year 12 or equivalent has increased from 53% in 2006 to 66% in 2016. (Table 30)
TRANSITION FROM EDUCATION TO WORK
Completing a non-school qualification
In May 2016, there were 1.2 million people aged 15 to 74 years who had completed the non-school qualification in which they were enrolled in 2015. Almost four out of five (79%) of these were employed in May 2016, one in seven (14%) were not in the labour force, while one in fourteen (7.1%) were unemployed. (Table 19)
There were 297,500 people aged 15 to 24 years who were enrolled in secondary school in 2015, but not in May 2016. Of these school leavers, 80% had completed Year 12 or equivalent and 59% (175,600 people) were currently enrolled in study at a non-school institution. The number of school leavers who were not studying was 122,800 (41%) and of these, the majority were employed, either full-time (35,400 or 29%) or part-time (46,900 or 38%). (Table 18)
Of all people aged 15 to 24 years who were not enrolled in school level study in May 2016, over one-third were employed full-time (35%) and over one-third were in full-time study (35%). Twelve percent (274,600 people) were not engaged in employment or study. (Table 11)
The proportion of young people aged 17 to 24 years in full time employment decreased from 47% in 2006 to 35% in 2016, while during the same period the proportion of those in full-time study rose from 28% to 35%. (Table 34)
APPRENTICES AND TRAINEES
In May 2016, there were 188,600 people aged 15 to 64 years who were employed as apprentices or trainees and part of the Australian Apprenticeship Scheme. Of these, 97,100 people (52%) had commenced their apprenticeship or traineeship in the last 12 months. The majority of apprentices or trainees were male (76%). As in previous years, construction was the most common industry for apprentices and trainees, with 41% (76,800 people) employed in this industry. (Table 20)
There were 14,100 people who gained a place for an apprenticeship/traineeship but were not undertaking it in May 2016, while 28,600 people who applied for an apprenticeship/traineeship were unsuccessful in gaining a place in 2016. (Table 21)
LABOUR FORCE STATUS
People with higher levels of educational attainment were more likely to be employed, with 80% of persons with a Bachelor degree or above, 75% of persons with an Advanced diploma or Diploma, and 76% of persons with a Certificate III or IV being employed at May 2016. This compares with 67% of persons with Year 12 as their highest attainment and 44% with Year 11 or below as their highest attainment. (Table 12)
Females with dependent children were less likely to be in full-time employment (28%) than males with dependent children (82%). Females were more likely than males to be in part-time employment (37% compared with 8.6%) or not in the labour force (31% compared with 6.8%). A similar trend was evident when males and females across 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 (24%) or females whose youngest child was aged 10 to 14 years (18%).
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 (77%) with a Bachelor degree or above were employed compared with 40% who had Year 11 or below. (Table 12)
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