Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2005  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/07/2005   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Education and training >> Young people at risk in the transition from education to work

Education & Work: Young People at Risk in the Transition From Education to Work

In 2004, 14% of young people aged 15-19 years (193,800 young people) were not engaged in full-time education or full-time employment, or in a combination of part-time education and part-time employment.

For young people, the decisions made during the transition from school to continued study or full-time employment can have long-term implications. These can be for the young people themselves and their community, as well as for industry and governments, with significant health, welfare, and national productivity implications. During this period of transition, continued participation in formal skill development, learning and employment can be particularly important. In competitive national and international labour markets there are premiums on skills derived from continued formal learning. For example, among OECD countries, male labour force participants aged 25-64 years with educational qualifications below upper secondary education are around 1.5 times as likely to be unemployed as those who have completed upper secondary education. (endnote 1)

For such reasons, most OECD and European Union economies are attempting to maximise the productive economic participation of their young people, either through skills development or work. In Australia, governments have developed new post-compulsory education and training arrangements to strengthen the attractiveness of schooling, offer equivalent vocational pathways in non-school settings, and ensure an increasing proportion of teenagers remain connected to learning or work. (endnote 2)

Young people aged 15-19 years: engagement in education and the labour force - 2004
Graph: Young people aged 15-19 years: engagement in education and the labour force - 2004


Data sources and definitions

Data on engagement in education and employment are from ABS annual May Surveys of Education and Work, 1984-2004. In this article, young people are aged 15-24 years; teenagers are aged 15-19 years; and young adults are aged 20-24 years. School leavers refers to 15-19 year olds who had left school in the previous year.

Young people fully engaged are those who, in the survey reference week, were in full-time work or in full-time education, or in part-time work combined with part-time education. Those not fully engaged are those who, in that week, were:3
  • not studying or working (and therefore either unemployed or not in the labour force); or
  • studying part-time and not working (therefore unemployed or not in the labour force); or
  • not studying but in part-time work.

Employed persons are those who, during the reference week, worked for one hour or more for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind, in a job or business or on a farm; or worked without pay in a family business; or had a job but were not at work. Those employed full-time are those who usually worked 35 hours or more (in all jobs), and those who, although usually working less than 35 hours a week, worked 35 hours or more during the reference week. Those employed part-time usually worked less than 35 hours a week (in all jobs), and either did so during the reference week, or were not at work during the reference week.

Unemployed persons are those who were not employed during the survey week, but were available for work and actively looking for work.

The labour force consists of persons who were employed or unemployed, as defined, during the survey reference week. Those not in the labour force are persons who were not in the categories employed or unemployed, as defined.


ENGAGEMENT IN LEARNING AND WORK

Many young people are fully engaged in either education or employment. That is, they are in full-time education (school or further education); in full-time employment; or in part-time education combined with part-time work. While some young people not fully engaged in these activities may be taking a 'gap year' between studies, travelling, or raising children, etc., the notion of not being fully engaged can also indicate vulnerability in the youth population. (endnote 3) Those who are not fully engaged may be at risk of becoming long term unemployed, underemployed, or marginally attached to the labour force; or may lack skill formation that can assist them over the long-term in the labour market.
Young people not fully engaged in education or employment
Graph: Young people not fully engaged in education or employment
Source: ABS May 2004 Survey of Education and Work


...teenagers

In 2004, most teenagers (15-19 year olds) (86%) were fully engaged. Most were in full-time education (69%) - mainly in school. Around one in six teenagers (16%) were in full-time employment. Only 1.3% of teenagers (17,700) were both working part-time and studying part-time.
A relatively small proportion were not fully engaged (14%). A higher proportion were employed part-time and not studying (6%) than the proportion who were unemployed (4%) or not in the labour force (4%).

...teenage school leavers

Looking only at the engagement of all teenagers can understate the proportion who are at risk in the transition from education to work, as many teenagers are still at school and yet to enter a transition (51% in 2004). So it is important to separately consider teenagers who have recently left school. In 2004, the proportion of school leavers who were not fully engaged was more than double the proportion of all teenagers (31% compared with 14% of all teenagers). However, a higher proportion of 15-19 year old school leavers than all teenagers were in full-time work (25%), and a considerable proportion were in full-time study (42%).

...young adults

The rate of full engagement varies across different age groups within the youth population, so it is also important to consider young adults (aged 20-24 years), given that transition experiences often stretch into this age group. Compared with school leavers, a lower proportion of young adults were not fully engaged (23%). As might be expected, participation in full-time work was highest for this age group - half of young adults (49%) were in full-time employment in 2004. Around a quarter (26%) were in full-time education (mainly in higher education: 22%).


TRENDS IN ENGAGEMENT

...not fully engaged

Over the last two decades there was little change in the proportion of school leavers not fully engaged (32% in 1984, 33% in 1994 and 31% in 2004). In contrast, among all teenagers, there was a substantial fall in the proportion not fully engaged from 21% in 1984 to 16% in 1994, and slight drop again to 14% in 2004. Among young adults there was also a substantial decrease in the proportion not fully engaged, from 37% in 1984, to 28% in 1994 and to 22% in 2004.

At the same time as the overall proportion of young people not fully engaged declined, there was a change in the balance of activities being undertaken by this group between 1994 and 2004. While the threat of unemployment eased, the not-fully-engaged population was increasingly represented by those working part-time and not studying, and those not participating in the labour market at all.

Between 1994 and 2004, unemployment declined substantially. Unemployment among school leavers fell from 18% to 10%; among all teenagers, from nearly 8% to 4%; and among young adults from 10% to 5%.

While the proportion of school leavers who were working part-time and not studying full-time increased (from 10% to 14%), the proportion of all teenagers working part-time and not studying full-time remained stable (5% and 6%); as did the proportion of young adults in this situation (around 9%). Similarly, the proportion of young people who were not in the labour force and not studying full-time remained steady.

...fully engaged

There has also been a shift in the kinds of activities undertaken by young people who are fully engaged. In particular, there has been a rising level of participation in full-time education in correspondence with a diminishing proportion of young people in full-time work. For school leavers, four out of ten (42%) had gone on to full-time study in 2004 compared with one in four (26%) in 1984. Nearly 70% of teenagers were in full-time education in 2004, compared with half (49%) in 1984; as were 26% of young adults: up from less than 9% in 1984.

Participation in full-time education is reflected in both rising levels of school retention and increasing participation in further education. Just over half (51%) of all teenagers were in school in 2004 compared with 40% in 1984. For school leavers, participation in TAFE increased from 10% to 14%, and higher education participation increased from 13% to 27%. There was a particularly marked increase in young adult participation in higher education, from 7% in 1984 to 23% in 2004.

...part-time employment

Part-time employment among young people not in full-time education has increasingly become more common in the transition from school to work and/or continued study. The ratio of teenagers employed part-time and not studying to those employed full-time and not studying rose from 0.37 in 1984 to 0.58 in 2004. This increase was more prominent for school leavers (from 0.36 to 0.86).

Among young people not studying full-time, full-time employment levels dropped steadily over the period. This was most pronounced among school leavers (from 39% to 25%) and teenagers (28% to 16%); but also evident for young adults (52% to 49%).

YOUNG PEOPLE: PARTICIPATION IN EDUCATION AND THE LABOUR FORCE - 1984, 1994 AND 2004

15-19 year old school leavers
Total 15-19 year olds
20-24 year olds
1984
1994
2004
1984
1994
2004
1984
1994
2004

%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

In full-time education
25.7
38.7
42.1
49.0
66.0
69.0
8.6
17.0
26.2
Not in full-time education
74.3
61.3
57.9
51.0
34.0
31.0
91.4
83.0
73.8
Employed full-time
39.4
26.7
24.5
28.0
17.0
15.6
51.5
53.5
48.5
Employed part-time and in part-time study
2.7
1.7
2.8
1.7
1.0
1.3
2.6
1.3
2.7
Not fully engaged
32.3
32.8
30.6
21.3
16.0
14.1
37.3
28.1
22.5
Employed part-time, no study
10.7
10.0
13.9
7.9
4.8
6.0
14.8
8.8
9.1
Unemployed
16.9
17.5
10.2
9.6
7.9
4.4
10.3
10.3
5.0
Not in the labour force
4.6
5.3
6.5
3.7
3.3
3.8
12.2
9.0
8.4

'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000

Total
253.4
276.3
287.6
1,269.8
1,271.2
1,373.1
1,319.8
1,427.4
1,387.8

Source: ABS May 2004 Survey of Education and Work.

Young people not fully engaged in education or employment
Graph: Young people not fully engaged in education or employment
(a) Excludes institutions other than Higher education, TAFE or school
Source: ABS May 2004 Survey of Education and Work


YOUNG PEOPLE NOT FULLY ENGAGED

Levels of full-time engagement among young people differ depending on characteristics such as their sex, area of residence and educational background.
Young women tend to be not fully engaged more than young men, particularly just after leaving school and in young adulthood (27% of women aged 20-24 years compared with 18% of men that age in 2004). This may partly be explained by the high proportion of young women who are not studying and not in the labour force whose main activity is undertaking home work and/or caring for children. In September 2004, 77% of women aged 15-24 years were in this situation, compared with 10% of young men that age who were not in the labour force. (endnote 4)

Overall, a greater proportion of young people aged 15-24 years living outside Australia's capital cities were not fully engaged compared with their metropolitan counterparts. In 2004, 16% of teenagers living outside capital cities were not fully engaged, compared with 13% of teenagers living in capital cities. The proportion of teenage school leavers living outside capital cities that were not fully engaged was 1.3 times that of school leavers living in capital cities.

And nearly three in ten young adults outside capital cities were not fully engaged (28%), compared with 20% of those living in capital cities. Such differences present policy challenges in terms of providing opportunities for both teenage school leavers living outside capital cities, and for young adults in their early 20s who want to remain in, or return to, these parts of Australia.

Educational attainment is also a substantial influence in the transition experiences of young people. Whether considering teenage school leavers or young adults, Year 12 completers were substantially more likely to be fully engaged than those who left school before Year 12.

Further, the proportion of young people not fully engaged increased with lower levels of school completion. While 24% of school leavers who had completed Year 12 were not fully engaged, the proportion was higher among those who had completed Year 11 or 10 (42% and 39% respectively). This pattern was less evident among all 15-19 year olds as 51% of this group had not completed school.

While 16% of young adults who had completed Year 12 were not fully engaged, a third (33%) of those who had completed to Year 11 were not fully engaged, increasing steadily to 65% of those who had completed school up to Year 8 or below.

SELECTED CHARACTERISTICS OF YOUNG PEOPLE: PROPORTION WHO WERE NOT FULLY ENGAGED(A) - 2004

15-19 year old school leavers
Total 15-19 year olds
20-24 year olds

Not fully engaged
%(a)
%(a)
%(a)

Sex
Male
28.5
13.2
17.7
Female
32.8
15.1
27.4
Area of residence
Capital city
27.4
12.9
19.8
Balance of state/territory
36.8
16.0
28.3
Highest year of school completed
Year 12
24.0
19.4
16.4
Year 11
41.7
9.7
32.9
Year 10
38.5
14.7
39.5
Year 9
72.0
8.3
49.8
Year 8 or below
90.8
24.8
65.2
Total aged 15-24 years
who were not fully engaged
30.6
14.1
22.5

(a) Proportion of all people in that population and with the selected characteristic that were not fully engaged.

Source: ABS May 2004 Survey of Education and Work.

15-19 year olds in part-time employment: working hours - 2004
Graph: 15–19 year olds in part-time employment: working hours — 2004


The Monthly Labour Force Survey

Data about underemployment and long-term unemployment are from the ABS August 2004 Labour Force Survey (LFS). Data about marginal attachment are from the September 2004 supplementary survey to the LFS, Persons Not in the Labour Force. Data on the not fully engaged population are not available from these surveys as they do not collect information on part-time study.

Underemployed workers are employed persons who worked less than 35 hours during the reference week, who wanted to work additional hours and were available to work additional hours within four weeks.

Long term unemployed are persons unemployed for a period of 52 weeks or more.

Persons marginally attached to the labour force are those who were not in the labour force in the survey reference week, who wanted to work and:
were actively looking for work but not available to start work in the reference week; or
were not actively looking for work but were available to start work within four weeks.

Discouraged jobseekers are persons with a marginal attachment to the labour force who wanted to work and were available to start within four weeks, but whose main reason for not actively looking for work was that they believed they would not find a job for any of the following reasons:

considered too young or too old by employers
lacked necessary schooling, training, skills or experience
language or ethnic background
no jobs in their locality or line of work
no jobs available at all


TO WHAT EXTENT ARE YOUNG PEOPLE VULNERABLE?

Several measures other than the unemployment rate indicate underutilisation of the youth labour force, and can highlight the extent to which young people may be at risk in the transition from school to further education or full-time work. For example, young people who are employed part-time may be underemployed (i.e. they may want more hours of work). Those that are unemployed may be long-term unemployed. And those that are not in the labour force may be marginally attached to the labour force, and may be discouraged jobseekers. The ABS Monthly Labour Force Survey provides information on the proportions of young people in these situations.

...underemployment

In August 2004, of all teenagers, 36% were working part-time and studying full-time. Of these, most worked 1-15 hours a week (75%), and 3% worked 25-34 hours a week. By contrast, among the 23% of teenagers who worked part-time and were not in full-time study, working hours were more evenly spread, with around one third working 1-15 hours a week (30%), one third working 16-24 hours (34%), and one third 25-34 hours per week (34%).

Relatively few teenagers working part-time and in full-time study wanted and were available for more hours of work (20%). This compares with 58% of those working part-time and not in full-time study who wanted more hours of work and were available to work more hours. This suggests that, in August 2004, there was considerable underemployment among young part-time workers who were not studying full-time.

...long term unemployment

Unemployment tends to be shorter in duration for young people than it does for people aged 25 years and over. Nevertheless, in August 2004, 9% of unemployed teenagers were long-term unemployed, that is, they had been unemployed for more than a year. The proportion of unemployed teenagers who were not in full-time study, and who were long-term unemployed was 13%. This was considerably higher than the proportion of unemployed teenagers who were in full-time study, and were long-term unemployed (7%).

...marginal attachment

While some young people who are not fully engaged can be considered vulnerable, others may be in these circumstances by choice. For example, young people may not be in the labour force for many reasons - they may be travelling, caring for children, or have a disability, etc. However, in September 2004, half (49%) of all teenagers who were not in full-time study and not in the labour force maintained a marginal attachment to the labour force. That is, they wanted to work but were either not available to start work; or not actively seeking work.

In September 2004, within this marginally attached group, around 9,000 young people aged 15-24 years were discouraged jobseekers. That is, they had stopped looking for work for reasons associated with the labour market. For example, because they thought employers would consider them too young, they lacked the necessary training, skills or experience, or no jobs were available in their locality or line of work.

YOUNG PEOPLE AGED 15-19 YEARS WHO WERE NOT IN FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT - 2004

In full-time
education
Not in full-time
education
Total aged
15–19 years

%
%
%

Part-time workers
Would prefer to work more hours and available
19.7
58.4
27.8
Would prefer to work more hours but not available
3.2
1.0
2.8
Preferred not to work more hours
77.1
40.5
69.5
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0

Source: ABS August 2004 Labour Force Survey.

YOUNG PEOPLE AGED 15-19 YEARS WHO WERE NOT IN FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT - 2004

In full-time
education
Not in full-time
education
Total aged
15-19 years

%
%
%

Unemployed(a)
Unemployed less than 1 year
93.3
86.7
90.7
Unemployed 1 year or more
6.7
13.3
9.3
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
Not in the labour force(b)
Marginally attached
28.5
49.3
30.1
Not marginally attached
71.5
50.7
69.9
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0

(a) Source: ABS August 2004 Labour Force Survey.
(b) Source: ABS September 2004 Persons Not in the Labour Force Survey.


IN CONCLUSION

Educational attainment is a significant influence in the transition experiences of school leavers. Continued participation in formal skill development and learning, through education and/or work, also makes an important contribution to labour force participation beyond the immediate transition from school.


ENDNOTES

1 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2004, Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators, OECD, Paris.

2 Stepping Forward <http://www.mceetya.edu.au /stepping_forward.htm>, accessed 15 June 2005.

3 This broad definition derives from the Commonwealth Government's Committee on Employment Opportunities convened in the early 1990s. This was a taskforce on which the Working Nation proposals were developed and which looked at the risk profile of people most likely to become long-term unemployed. This committee defined young people in these activity states as being most vulnerable to the risk of long-term unemployment.
However, while analysis of these three categories may allow examination of the current risk profile of young people, there are relatively few tools available to actually track the extent to which this risk is realised by individuals over time.
See also Dusseldorp Skills Forum, How young people are faring, Key indicators 2004, Monash University - ACER, Centre for the Economics of Education and Training, 2004.

4 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2004, Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia, cat. no. 6220.0, ABS, Canberra.


Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.