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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1999  
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Contents >> Education >> Participation in Education: Destinations of school leavers

Participation in Education: Destinations of school leavers

Over the past decade, school leavers have increasingly favoured going on to tertiary education.


SCHOOL LEAVERS BY ACTIVITY AFTER LEAVING SCHOOL, 1988-1998
Source: Transition from Education to Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0).


When teenagers leave school, they take one of their first critical steps into the wider world of adult life. The choices they make can have a long-term influence on their future career paths. A school leaver's range of options can include work, university or vocational training and many combinations of work and education. In 1998, 257,800 students left school and moved on to take up one of these options. Of these students, 37% left school early, before having completed Year 12. The most common reason for leaving school given by early school leavers was to take up, or look for, employment, presumably to speed their independence.1 However, early school leavers would probably find that their options were more limited than those of students who completed Year 12.

In 1998, just under a third (30%) of the students who had left school the previous year had gone on to a higher education institution: 24% had gone on to vocational study at TAFE colleges, while 5% were studying at other educational institutions such as a business college etc. There were 42% of school leavers who were not attending an educational institution (a small proportion of whom would have been accepted into a tertiary institution but had chosen to defer their enrolment by a year).

Over the past decade, the destinations of school leavers have shifted towards tertiary education. Although not consistent over the period, overall the proportion of school leavers who chose to continue their studies increased from 43% in 1988 to 58% in 1998. Higher education has increased its share of school leavers from 18% in 1988 to 30% in 1998.


School leavers

This review is mainly based on data from the ABS Transition from Education to Work Survey carried out in May 1998.

School leavers in this review refer to people aged 15-24 years who attended school in a certain year but were not attending school by May of the following year. School leavers have been divided into the following two groups:
  • Year 12 leavers are those who last attended Year 12 of school.
  • Early school leavers are those who last attended Year 10, 11 or an earlier year of school.
Occupations are ranked in the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO 2nd Edition) on the basis of skill level, and for this review, have been grouped into two broad skill categories.
  • High skilled - (Skill Levels 1, 2, and 3) comprising professional, management, associate professional, advanced clerical and trade occupations.
  • Less skilled - (Skill Levels 4 and 5) comprising intermediate clerical, intermediate production and transport, elementary clerical and labouring occupations.

SCHOOL LEAVERS BY TYPE OF SCHOOL ATTENDED IN THE PREVIOUS YEAR

Year 12 leavers
Early school leavers


Type of institution attending in May 1998
Government school
Non-government school
Total
Government
school
Non-government
school
Total
%
%
%
%
%
%

Higher education
37.6
61.2
46.8
1.9
3.2
2.0
TAFE
20.0
16.8
18.7
29.4
52.8
32.1
Other study(a)
3.2
5.9
4.2
4.4
9.1
4.9
Not attending
39.3
16.1
30.2
64.3
34.9
61.0
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

Total ('000)
98.7
63.3
161.9
84.9
11.0
95.9

(a) Includes business colleges, industry skills centres and other educational institutions.

Source: Unpublished data, Transition from Education to Work, Australia, 1998.


Higher education
In 1998, higher education institutions attracted 77,700 school leavers, 30% of students who had left school the previous year. These students were predominantly studying towards a Bachelor degree and would generally have had to complete their Year 12 studies to attain admission to the institution.

Year 12 school leavers from non-government schools were more likely to attend a higher education institution than those from government schools (61% compared to 38%). Overall, one half of school leavers attending a higher education institution came from non-government schools, even though school leavers from non-government schools represented only 29% of all school leavers. There is no simple explanation for the greater representation of school leavers from non-government schools, though it is probably related to factors such as their parent's level of education and ability to provide financial support.

Among Year 12 leavers, girls (49% of girls) were slightly more likely to be undertaking higher education than boys (45% of boys). This reflects the trend towards females having an increasingly higher participation rate in higher education than males, a trend that has existed since 1989 (see Australian Social Trends 1998, Gender differences in educational achievement).

SCHOOL LEAVERS BY SEX

Year 12 leavers
Early school leavers
All school leavers



Type of institution
Boys
Girls
Total
Boys
Girls
Total
Boys
Girls
Total
attending in May 1998
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Higher education
44.8
48.6
46.8
2.4
1.4
2.0
26.6
33.9
30.2
TAFE
22.5
15.4
18.7
35.2
27.5
32.1
28.0
19.2
23.7
Other study(b)
3.1
5.2
4.2
2.8
8.1
4.9
3.0
6.1
4.5
Not attending
29.6
30.8
30.2
59.6
63.0
61.0
42.5
40.8
41.7
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

Total ('000)
75.5
86.5
161.9
56.9
39.0
95.9
132.3
125.5
257.8

(a) Includes business colleges, industry skills centres and other educational institutions.

Source: Unpublished data, Transition from Education to Work, Australia, 1998.


Technical and further education
In 1998, Colleges of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) attracted 61,100 school leavers, 24% of school leavers in 1998. Proportionally, students from government and non-government schools were similarly represented: 24% of school leavers from government schools and 22% of leavers from non-government schools were attending a TAFE institution. However, early school leavers were more likely to attend (32%) than Year 12 school leavers (19%). When looking at both the type of school and the level of schooling, the highest rate of attendance at TAFE occurred among early school leavers. Early school leavers from non-government schools were more likely than those from government schools to progress to a TAFE institution.

Boys were more likely to attend a TAFE institution than girls: 28% of male school leavers compared to 19% of female school leavers. These proportions were higher among early school leavers, with 35% of boys and 27% of girls attending a TAFE institution in 1998.

SCHOOL LEAVERS NOT ATTENDING AN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION IN MAY 1998

Total
Proportion employed full- time
(of those employed)
Unemployment rate
Labour force participation rate




1992
1998
1992
1998
1992
1998
1992
1998
'000
'000
%
%
%
%
%
%

Year 12 leaver
65.0
48.9
56.7
49.9
34.7
23.3
94.5
89.0
Government school
51.8
38.8
54.1
48.5
37.3
26.3
95.0
89.0
Non-govenment School
13.2
10.2
65.2
54.2
24.4
12.2
92.5
89.0
Boys
36.0
22.3
64.3
59.9
34.4
19.3
95.8
89.6
Girls
29.1
26.6
46.8
40.5
35.1
26.7
92.8
88.6
Early school leaver
59.3
58.4
76.4
54.0
50.0
45.3
87.3
80.8
Government school
51.2
54.6
76.2
57.0
51.0
45.3
87.0
80.1
Non-government school
8.1
3.8*
77.7*
* *
43.8*
44.9*
89.1
90.9*
Boys
33.3
33.9
80.4
58.8
46.0
45.2
90.8
84.8
Girls
26.0
24.5
69.5
46.5
55.6
45.3
82.8
75.3
Total
124.4
107.4
64.4
51.7
41.7
34.7
91.0
84.6

Source: Unpublished data, Transition from Education to Work, Australia, 1998.


The labour force
In 1998, about 107,400 school leavers were not attending an educational institution, representing 42% of all school leavers. The majority of these school leavers, 85%, had a job or were looking for work. That is, they participated in the labour force.

The overall unemployment rate among these school leavers who were not undertaking tertiary studies was high (35%) though there were considerable differences among particular groups of school leavers. Early school leavers had the highest rate of unemployment (45%). This was about the same, regardless of the type of school they had attended or whether they were male or female.

Year 12 leavers had an overall unemployment rate of 23%. Those from non-government schools had a lower unemployment rate (12%) than those from government schools (26%). Male Year 12 leavers had a lower rate (19%) than females (27%).

When 1998 figures are compared to those of school leavers in 1992, some distinct changes are evident. Overall, labour force participation rates have decreased from 91% to 85% while unemployment rates have also decreased from 42% overall to 35%. The proportion of school leavers working full-time has decreased from 64% overall to 52%, partly reflecting the general trend towards part-time employment (see Australian Social Trends 1999, Decline of the standard working week).

Overall, in 1998, 82% of Year 12 leavers and 91% of early school leavers who were employed, but not attending an educational institution, were in less skilled occupations. About 36% of both Year 12 leavers and early leavers who were employed, were in the elementary clerical, sales or service workers category (in skill level 5). A further 36% of early leavers were employed in the labourer and related worker category (also in skill level 5). This latter category also accounted for 21% of Year 12 leavers. Year 12 leavers' representation in the high skill occupations was 18%.

OCCUPATIONS OF EMPLOYED SCHOOL LEAVERS NOT ATTENDING A TERTIARY EDUCATION INSTITUTION, 1998

Year 12 leavers
Early leavers
Skill level(a)/occupation
%
%

High skill
18.4
9.3*
Skill level 1 and 2
    Managers and administrators; professionals and associate professionals
3.8*
* *
Skill level 3
    Tradespersons and related workers advanced clerical and service workers
14.6
7.5*
Less skilled
81.6
90.7
Skill level 4
    Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers
16.3
7.9*
    Intermediate production and transport workers
9.0*
9.8*
Skill level 5
    Elementary clerical, sales and service workers
35.7
36.6
    Labourers and related workers
20.6
36.4
Total
100.0
100.0

(a) Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (2nd Edition).

Source: Unpublished data, Transition from Education to Work, Australia, 1998.


Neither studying nor in the labour force
Among school leavers not attending an educational institution in 1998, 16,600 young people were not working or looking for work. That is, they were not participating in the labour force. In 1998, these school leavers represented 6% of all school leavers, or 15% of school leavers not attending an educational institution. These school leavers were predominantly early school leavers (68%), from government schools (91%) and slightly more likely to be female (55%).


Endnotes

1 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Survey of Education and Training Experience 1997, cat. no. 6278.0, ABS, Canberra.



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