Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Catalogue Number
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
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
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

CULTURAL AND LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY

This section examines people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, focussing on their level of highest educational attainment and current study, engagement in work and study, barriers to formal learning, and participation in non-formal learning activities. For the purpose of this analysis, CALD status has been divided into four categories:

  • Born in Australia, mainly speaks English at home
  • Born in Australia, mainly speaks a language other than English at home
  • Born overseas, mainly speaks English at home
  • Born overseas, mainly speaks a language other than English at home.
Analysis of these categories provides insight into how migrants may be faring in terms of education and training compared to Australian born citizens, and whether cultural and linguistic diversity has an impact on attainment and participation in work, study and training more generally, regardless of country of birth. It is worth considering, though, the relative size of the four CALD groups. Among 15-64 year olds, around 68% were born in Australia and mainly spoke English at home whereas around 14% were born overseas and mainly spoke English at home, and the same proportion were born overseas and mainly spoke some other language at home. By contrast, the proportion of people who were born in Australia and mainly spoke a language other than English at home was very small (4%).


LEVEL OF HIGHEST EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT/CURRENT STUDY

Higher levels of educational attainment are associated with increased employment opportunities and overall health and well-being (ABS, 2008a; ABS 2011b). Level of current study is also important because, while it may not yet be complete, it provides a good indication of what the likely educational profile of people undertaking that study will be, and therefore, what future employment opportunities they are likely to have.

Among 20-24 year olds, speaking a language other than English at home was positively associated with holding or studying towards a Bachelor degree or higher qualification. In 2009, attainment or study at this level was around 55% for people who said they mainly spoke a language other than English at home compared with 30% for people who mainly spoke English at home. The opposite pattern was observed for attainment or study towards vocational qualifications, with attainment at this level at around 33% among people who mainly spoke English at home and between 22% and 29% for those who mainly spoke another language at home [1].

Among 25-64 year olds, the patterns across both higher and vocational education were similar to those observed in the 20-24 year old group.

PEOPLE AGED 20-24 YEARS, LEVEL OF HIGHEST EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT/CURRENT STUDY BY CALD STATUS (a) - 2009
Graph showing level of highest educational attainment/current study by culturally and linguistically diverse status for people aged 20-24 years - 2009
(a) ‘Born overseas’ includes those for whom country of birth could not be determined.
(b) Includes ‘Certificate III/IV not further defined’.
Source: ABS 2009 Survey of Education and Training


While speaking English was shown to have an association with education, proficiency in spoken English was also related to attainment and participation. Among 20-24 year olds, people who said that they were not proficient at speaking English were half as likely as those with greater proficiency to have completed or be studying towards a Bachelor degree or above (30% compared with 58%). Among 25-64 year olds, the difference was even more pronounced (16% compared with 43%).

PEOPLE AGED 20-64 YEARS, ATTAINMENT/STUDY TOWARDS A BACHELOR DEGREE OR HIGHER QUALIFICATION BY PROFICIENCY IN SPOKEN ENGLISH - 2009
Graph showing attainment/study towards a Bachelor degree or higher qualification by proficiency in spoken English for people aged 20-64 years - 2009
Source: ABS 2009 Survey of Education and Training


The increase in the proportion of young people having attained or studying towards a Bachelor degree or higher qualification compared to the 25-64 year age group may reflect a generational change in attitudes and expectations toward education over time (ABS, 1999). Differences in levels of attainment by English proficiency among people born overseas, however, may reflect the nature of Australia's migration program, which, over the last 10-15 years, has increasingly focused on attracting skilled migrants who have qualifications and/or are proficient at speaking English (ABS, 2010c).


ENGAGEMENT IN WORK AND STUDY

Participation in work and study also varied by main language spoken at home. Among 15-24 year olds in 2009, people who mainly spoke English at home were more likely to be working full time and less likely to be studying full time than were those who mainly spoke a language other than English at home. A similar pattern was observed for 25-64 year olds.

PEOPLE AGED 15-24 YEARS, ENGAGEMENT IN WORK AND STUDY BY CALD STATUS (a) - 2009
Graph showing engagement in work and study by culturally and linguistically diverse status for people aged 15-24 years - 2009
(a) ‘Born overseas’ includes those for whom country of birth could not be determined.
(b) Includes those who are engaged in both full-time study and full-time work
and those engaged in a mix of part-time study and part-time work.
Source: ABS 2009 Survey of Education and Training


Proficiency in spoken English was also shown to have an association with participation in full-time work. People who were highly proficient in English were twice as likely to be working full time as were people in the same age range who had limited proficiency (16% compared with 7% for 15-24 year olds; 57% compared with 27% for 25-64 year olds).

In contrast to full-time work, differences in proficiency in English did not have much of an association with whether or not people were studying full time.


BARRIERS TO FORMAL LEARNING

Among 15-24 and 25-64 year olds in 2009, the incidence of reported barriers to participation in formal learning in the 12 months preceding the survey was generally around one in five (20%) across the majority of CALD categories. While the graph below suggests an apparent difference in the incidence of reported barriers by the 'Born in Australia, mainly speaks other language at home' group for both age ranges, the relatively small size of this group means that the difference is not statistically significant for this variable and, therefore, there is little discernible difference in the proportion of reported barriers among 15-64 year olds in terms of age, language spoken at home or country of birth.

PEOPLE AGED 15-64 YEARS, INCIDENCE OF REPORTED BARRIERS TO FORMAL LEARNING BY CALD STATUS (a) - 2009
Graph showing incidence of reported barriers to formal learning by culturally and linguistically diverse status for people aged 15-64 years - 2009
(a) ‘Born overseas’ includes those for whom country of birth could not be determined.
Source: ABS 2009 Survey of Education and Training


The most commonly reported barriers in both age groups were financial reasons, lack of time and too much work. The only notable difference in reported barriers by proficiency in English was among 25-64 year olds who mainly spoke a language other than English at home. Among this group, those who did not speak English well or at all were more likely (5% compared with 1%) than those with a greater proficiency in English to report their lack of literacy, numeracy or English skills as a barrier to learning. Given the small size of both of these groups, it appears that language and numeracy skills were not seen as much of a barrier to participation in education, even among people who do not speak English well or at all.


PARTICIPATION IN NON-FORMAL LEARNING

Participation in non-formal learning is considered an important part of life-long learning, and when conducted in the work place, a critical part of developing and maintaining a workforce with relevant skills (ABS, 2008b). Among 15-24 year olds, people born in Australia were generally more likely to have participated in non-formal learning than were people who were born overseas. For those born in Australia who mainly spoke English at home, participation was at around 27%, while for those born overseas it was around 18%.

Although proficiency in spoken English did not appear to have an association with participation in non-formal learning for 15-24 year olds, it did so for people aged 25-64 years. Among this older group, those with a greater degree of proficiency were twice as likely to have participated in non-formal learning (24%) as were people with lesser proficiency (12%). Even greater contrast was shown in participation in work related training by employed people in this age group, where those with greater English skills were around three times more likely to have participated in work related training (16%) than were those who did not speak English well or at all (5%).


ENDNOTES

[1] For further explanation of Level of Highest Educational Attainment, see the decision table in the Explanatory Notes of Education and Training Experience, State and Territory Tables, Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 6278.0.55.005). (Back to text)

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.