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4250.0.55.001 - Perspectives on Education and Training: Social Inclusion, 2009  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/08/2011  First Issue
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CHARACTERISTICS OF PARENTS

This section expands on the previous analysis of socioeconomic status by looking at the influence of family background on the likelihood of young people experiencing inter-generational disadvantage in terms of outcomes in education and training. This is done by comparing the educational attainment of young people with characteristics of their parents/guardians (hereafter referred to as parents), such as occupation and education [1]. Parental occupation provides insight into the opportunities available to a young person while parental education is an indicator of the value placed on education as well as opportunities. Parental occupation and education also act as proxy measures of a family's socioeconomic status as does parental employment status (ABS, 2011a). In this analysis, the attainment/current study categories for 20-24 year olds are the same categories for parental attainment [2].


PARENTAL EDUCATION

In 2009, about one-third (29%) of young people aged 20-24 years had at least one parent with a Bachelor degree and for a similar proportion (32%), a Certificate III to Advanced Diploma was the highest qualification of either parent.

PEOPLE AGED 20-24 YEARS, LEVEL OF HIGHEST EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT OF PARENTS - 2009
Graph showing the level of highest educational attainment of parents of people aged 20-24 years - 2009

Source: ABS 2009 Survey of Education and Training


The level of educational attainment and/or current study of a young person was more likely to be high if his or her parents had completed a higher education qualification. Of young people aged 20-24 years who had a parent with a Bachelor degree or above, over half held or were studying towards a Bachelor degree or higher qualification themselves (61%), well above the proportion where neither parent had attained a qualification at this level.

Young people aged 20-24 years whose most qualified parent had a vocational qualification (Certificate III to Advanced Diploma), were more likely to have, or be studying for, a Bachelor degree or above (30%) than were young people whose parents' highest qualification was Year 12 or below (21%). They were also more likely to hold or be studying toward a Certificate III to Advanced Diploma (39%) than were young people whose parents were less qualified (32%).

Nevertheless, many young people whose parents had lower educational attainment were still pursuing further education. About half (53%) of young people whose parents' highest educational attainment was Year 12 or below held or were studying towards a qualification at or above the Certificate III level. Looking just at those with parents whose educational attainment was below Year 12, 44% had attained or were studying for a qualification at or above the Certificate III level.

MALES AND FEMALES AGED 20-24 YEARS, LEVEL OF HIGHEST EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT/CURRENT STUDY BY LEVEL OF HIGHEST EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT OF PARENTS - 2009

Graph showing the level of highest educational attainment/current study for 20-24 year old males by level of highest educational attainment of parents - 2009Graph showing the level of highest educational attainment/current study for 20-24 year old females by level of highest educational attainment of parents - 2009

Source: ABS 2009 Survey of Education and Training


Parents with high educational attainment may serve as role models for their children. In addition, higher levels of educational attainment are often linked to jobs with higher income, so families with one or more highly educated parents are more likely to be financially well-off and more able to provide support for young people while studying. Conversely, young people with less educated parents may not be able to pursue higher education due to economic constraints.

Overall, among 20-24 year olds, a higher proportion of males had attained or were studying for a vocational qualification (36% compared with 29% of females) and more females had attained or were studying towards a university degree (41% compared to 31% of males).

The high proportion of young males with or studying for a vocational qualification may be because many male dominated occupations such as trades require a vocational qualification. The high proportion of young females with or studying for a university degree may reflect a change in requirements of many female dominated occupations (such as nursing and early childhood education) which now call for a university degree rather than a vocational qualification.


PARENTAL EMPLOYMENT

Parental employment can influence the financial resources available for a young person to study. Young people whose parents are not employed may need to work instead of studying.

Young people aged 20-24 years who had neither parent employed were more likely to have educational attainment below Year 12 and not be studying (27%) than were those with at least one parent employed (14%). The reference period for the labour force status of parents was only the week prior to interview and therefore the survey did not measure employment history. The results of this analysis, however, suggest that a considerable number whose parents were not currently in employment may have experienced a history of disadvantage. The association between educational attainment of young people and employment status of parents was stronger for young people whose fathers were not employed. More mothers than fathers were not employed, but this situation had less of an association with the educational attainment of their children.

PEOPLE AGED 20-24 YEARS, LEVEL OF HIGHEST EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT/CURRENT STUDY BY EMPLOYMENT STATUS OF PARENTS - 2009
Graph showing the level of highest educational attainment/current study for 20-24 year olds by parental employment status - 2009

Source: ABS 2009 Survey of Education and Training


PARENTAL OCCUPATION

Consistent with the foregoing discussion, young people aged 20-24 years with parents in highly skilled occupations (e.g. managers and professionals) had on average higher levels of educational attainment/current study than those with parents in low skill occupations (e.g. labourers). The table below examines educational attainment and current study by occupational groupings based on the skill level required [3]. Where parents had different occupations, the occupation requiring the highest skill level was chosen. When the highest occupation of either parent was machinery operator or labourer, young people were three times more likely to have left school prior to Year 12 than those who had a parent who was a manager or professional (27% compared with 7%).

Young people whose parents highest occupation was a manager or professional were up to three times more likely to hold or be studying for a Bachelor degree or above (49%) than were their peers whose parents were in other occupation groups (in the range 15% to 28%).

PEOPLE AGED 20-24 YEARS, LEVEL OF HIGHEST EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT/CURRENT STUDY BY HIGHEST OCCUPATION OF PARENTS (a) - 2009

Highest Occupation of Parents

Level of highest educational attainment/current study of people aged 20-24 years
Managers
and
professionals
Technicians
and
trades workers
Community,
clerical and
sales workers (b)
Machinery operators, drivers and
labourers
Total with at least one parent employed (c)

Bachelor degree or above
%
49.4
23.2
28.3
14.5
37.4
Certificate III - Advanced Diploma
%
31.1
41.7
32.9
30.5
33.1
Year 12
%
12.4
16.3
17.7
28.5
15.8
Below Year 12
%
7.1
18.9
21.0
26.6
13.7
Total
%
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
Total
'000
634.7
181.4
253.4
108.9
1218.3

(a) Based on the occupation requiring the highest level of skill of either parent.
(b) Comprises Community and Personal service workers, Clerical and administrative workers and Sales workers.
(c) Includes parents whose occupation was unable to be determined.
Note: Occupation classifications based on The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) Major Groups.
Source: ABS 2009 Survey of Education and Training




ENDNOTES

[1] Questions on parental education/occupation are asked of SET participants aged 15-24 years. Respondents were asked to choose the people who have had the most influence on their life whether they are natural parents or guardians. A parent can be a biological, adoptive or step parent, a family member or any other guardian. (Back to text)

[2] 'Certificate III - Advanced Diploma' includes ‘Certificate III/IV not further defined’. 'Year 12' includes a small proportion of people studying towards qualifications below Certificate III. 'Below Year 12' includes a small proportion of people studying towards qualifications below Certificate III, as well as those with ‘Other education’, ‘Level not determined’ and ‘No educational attainment/attendance’. (Back to text)

[3] See the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, First Edition, Revision 1 cat no. 1220.0 (Back to text)

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