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4438.0 - Disability, Vocation and Education Training, 2009  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/06/2011  First Issue
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People aged 15-24 years PEOPLE AGED 15–24 YEARS


PEOPLE AGED 15-24 YEARS

The late teens and early twenties are years during which a young person is most likely to be engaged in formal learning through schools, tertiary institutions, TAFEs, business colleges or industrial skills centres and other educational bodies. It is a time of building one's reserves of knowledge and of preparing for participation in the workforce.

Australia has an ageing population and there is an increasing awareness of the need to tap into all the resources of the nation, as this shift in demographics effects economic and social aspects of society. As part of this, young people, including those with disabilities, are being encouraged to stay at school for the full duration, to participate in either vocational or higher education and to enter the workforce equipped with relevant skills. These years are of crucial interest to governments and policy makers6.


Participation in education

In 2009, 96% of all people aged 15-24 years participated in some type of learning in the past 12 months. Most people, regardless of disability, participated in informal learning to a greater extent than in any other single form of learning (Graph 1).

People with or without disability had roughly similar participation rates in school and non-formal learning, but people with profound/severe disability had the lowest participation rates of any learning that occurred outside of school.

People with specific limitations or restrictions were least likely to be participating in school (35%), but they were also more likely than the other severity groups to be participating in non-formal learning (28%).



This is a graph showing the type of learning participated in by people aged 15-24 years, by severity of disability



Incomplete qualifications

In SET 2009 it is possible to assess the overall level of completion of non-school qualifications. Data indicates that people with specific limitations or restrictions were more likely to drop out of courses than people without disability at all levels. The drop out rate for people with specific limitations or restrictions studying for certificated courses was particularly high (13% compared to 2% of those with no disability) (Graph 2).


This is a graph showing people aged 15-24 years with incomplete non-school qualifications, by severity of disability



Early school leavers

The number of years that a person is engaged in formal education is one of the best predictors of positive social and economic outcomes7. It is in the national interest to have a highly educated and skilled workforce, but getting to that stage presupposes children will remain in school long enough to gain the skills that enable them to participate in higher education.

There were over 2 million people aged 15-24 years, who were not attending school in 2009; 52% of these were males and 48% were females. However, for people with specific restrictions, significantly more females were not attending school than males (55% and 45% respectively).

Graph 3 shows the proportion of people aged 15-24yrs who were not attending school at the time of enumeration, by the age at which they left school. Most 15-24 year olds had left school between the ages of 16-17 years, regardless of whether they had disability or not.

Of people with profound/severe disability, 26% had left school at or before the age of 15 years, but a higher proportion of students with profound/severe disability also remained at school longer than 18 years compared to people without disability (36% and 26% respectively).

Those with specific restrictions were more than twice as likely to have left school earlier than those without disability. Of people with specific restrictions, 23% had left either at 15 years or under compared to only 11% of those without disability. The significance of this is that some of these students may have left school early even though they did not have the most severe forms of disability.


This is a graph showing the proportion of people aged 15-24 years who are currently not attending school, by the age at which they left school and severity of disability


Reasons why left school early:

People who had not completed Year 12 were asked the main reason why they did not do so. The most reported reason given by people with specific restrictions for leaving school early (Graph 4), was that their own ill health or disability had prevented them from completing Year 12 (32%). However, the reason why most people with no disability did not complete Year 12 was that they got (or wanted) jobs or apprenticeships (38%). This was more than twice the proportion of 15-24 year olds with specific restriction who reported that they got (or wanted) jobs or apprenticeships (16%).


This is a graph showing the reasons why people aged 15-24 years did not complete Year 12, by severity of disability


Difficulties with participation

People with specific limitations or restrictions aged 15-24 years who were currently not attending school were almost twice as likely to report that they had experienced difficulties while undertaking formal learning in the last 12 months compared to those with no disability (42% and 20% respectively). In addition, 24% also reported that they found it difficult to participate in non-formal courses, compared to 5% of those with no disability.

All people were asked if they had wanted to study for a formal qualification in the last 12 months but had not done so and to identify the reasons for why they did not participate. The three most common reasons stated by people aged 15-24 years who had specific restrictions and were not currently attending school were: financial reasons (33%), location or transport reasons (21%) and no time (20%).

What happened to early school leavers post-school?

Of people with specific limitations or restrictions who were not currently attending school in 2009, 55% were employed compared to 72% of those without disability (Graph 5). People with specific limitations or restrictions were more likely to be unemployed (14%) than those without disability (9%). They were also more likely not to be in the labour force (31%) than those without disability (19%).



This is a graph showing the labour force status of people aged 15-24 years who are currently not attending school, by severity of disability


Vocational Education and Training of 15-19 year olds

In Australian secondary schools, students are able to study Vocational Education and Training (VET) subjects such as hospitality, business and engineering as part of their school work. This enables them to obtain VET qualifications while still attending school, sometimes simultaneous to other school qualifications. For an explanation of the purposes and structure of VET training, please refer to Appendix 2.

The proportion of people aged 15-19 years studying in VET was higher for students with disability than for those without disability (Graph 6). In 2009 34% of 15-19 year olds with specific restrictions were studying VET. This compared to 19% of 15-19 year olds with no disability.


This is a graph showing the proportion of people aged 15-19 years who are currently studying VET in Year 11 or tweleve, by severity of disability



Level of highest qualification of 20-24 year olds

Young adults between the ages of 20-24 years often engage in formal studies after leaving school. People with specific limitations or restrictions were almost half as likely to be studying for a degree (14%) than people without disability (27%) (Graph 7). There was no significant difference in the proportion of people with specific limitations or restrictions studying for VET qualifications (18%) compared to those with no disability (15%).



This is a graph showing the level of current non-school qualifications of people aged 20-24 years, by severity of disability

Employment status before and after completing a first qualification (20-24yrs)

In 2009, 73% of people with specific limitations or restrictions were employed prior to their first qualification, the same proportion as people with no disability. Six months after completing a qualification, there was no significant difference between people with disability being employed (77%) compared to those with no disability (86%).

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