4260.0 - Outcomes from Vocational Education and Training in Schools, experimental estimates, Australia, 2006-2011  
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OUTCOMES FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN SCHOOLS STUDENTS

INTRODUCTION

Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Schools programs provide secondary school students with an alternative or complementary course of study to the standard academic curriculum otherwise available to them. As the subjects within these programs can contribute to senior secondary certificates, they give students the option to pursue their vocational interests while staying in school. Vocational subjects are intended to prepare students for life after school with a particular focus on getting them ready to enter the labour force.

Increasing educational participation and improving the transition from school to work for young Australians are the key objectives of the Council of Australian Governments’ National Partnership Agreement on Youth Attainment.1 The efficacy of VET in Schools is of particular interest to Governments and researchers as it is intended to aid transitions to work and the programs engage young people at a time when they will be making decisions about employment and study after school.

For the first time, data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing has been integrated with 2006 VET in Schools data collected by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER). This has produced a new dataset that is able to provide insights into the various pathways of students participating in VET in Schools programs and their post-school destinations and outcomes. The integrated dataset makes more information available than is available from either dataset individually. Importantly, the integrated dataset allows the analysis of student outcomes, such as further study and participation in the labour market, five years after being engaged in VET in Schools and at a finer level of detail than is typically available from surveys.

This article demonstrates how integrated data can enhance the evidence base for social, economic and educational policy in Australia.


DATA IN THIS ARTICLE

The 2006 VET in Schools data used in this article comes from the NCVER VET provider collection. The dataset includes records of all students aged 15-19 years who undertook a VET enrolment as part of their schooling at any point during the 2006 calendar year.

This article focusses on students who were in Year 11 in 2006 that were doing VET in school as part of their studies, and their destinations five years later in 2011.

For more detailed information about data sources, definitions and methodologies used in this release refer to the Explanatory Notes via the tab above.


WHO CHOOSES VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN SCHOOLS?

VET in Schools is primarily aimed at senior secondary school students (Year 11 and 12 students). The programs have a reasonable uptake with 40% of Year 11 and 12 students participating in VET in Schools in 2006.2

The programs tend to be more popular with particular subgroups of students. For 2006 Year 11 and 12 students, the uptake of VET in Schools was higher for:
males (42%) than females (38%);
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students (54%) than non-Indigenous students (39%);
students from disadvantaged areas (47%) than students from advantaged areas (28%).3

Most VET in Schools students (64%) were only doing one qualification and most students (85%) were doing lower level qualifications (Certificate I and II).

LEVEL OF MAIN VET IN SCHOOLS QUALIFICATION(a)
Male
Female
Total
%
%
%

Level of 2006 qualification
Advanced Diploma/Diploma
0.1
0.3
0.2
Certificate IV
0.4
0.5
0.5
Certificate III
13.9
11.4
12.7
Certificate II
58.6
73.4
65.9
Certificate I
25.5
12.9
19.3
Other (b)
1.5
1.5
1.5
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0

a) Year 11 and 12 VET in Schools students in 2006
b) Includes non-award courses, Bridging and Enabling Courses and Statements of attainment not identifiable by level
Source: 2006 VET in Schools and 2011 Census of Population and Housing integrated dataset


HOW MANY VET IN SCHOOLS STUDENTS FINISH YEAR 12?

On average, VET in Schools students are slightly less likely to complete Year 12 than other students. Around 77% of 2006 male Year 11 students had completed Year 12 by 2011, compared with 74% of males who did VET in Schools. Overall, females tended to stay in school longer, with 84% of Year 11 students having completed Year 12 by 2011, compared with 82% of females who did VET in Schools. There are a number of factors that may contribute to this. In particular, VET in Schools students tend to come from more disadvantaged backgrounds and may be less academically inclined.4 However, participating in VET in Schools is associated with higher rates of school completion for some groups.

Male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander VET in Schools students stay in school longer

Overall, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students have lower rates of Year 12 completion than non-Indigenous students. This is particularly true for males. However, participation in VET in Schools is associated with increased rates of Year 12 completion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males. Around 43% of male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who were doing Year 11 in 2006 had completed Year 12 by 2011. This rate rose to 60% for those students who did VET in Schools. The same improvement rate in school completion was not seen for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females.

PROPORTION OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER STUDENTS(a) WHO HAD COMPLETED YEAR 12 BY 2011
Graph: Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 2006 Year 11 students who had completed Year 12 by 2011
a) Year 11 students in 2006.
Source: 2006 VET in Schools and 2011 Census of Population and Housing integrated dataset


ARE VET IN SCHOOLS STUDENTS ENGAGED IN WORK OR STUDY AFTER FINISHING SCHOOL?

Engagement in employment and study are important for developing individual capability and employment pathways for young people. People who are in full-time employment, full-time study, or a combination of part-time work and part-time study are considered fully engaged. Young people who are not fully engaged are at greater risk of an insecure employment future.5

VET in Schools leads to better engagement outcomes

Overall, engagement in work or study is highest among young people that have gone on to higher education. For students who have gone on to higher education, around 95% were fully engaged five years after Year 11 regardless of whether they participated in VET in Schools.

However, having participated in VET in Schools was associated with higher engagement rates for students that did not go on to higher education. In this group, the engagement rate for males five years after Year 11 increased from 69% to 73% for the sub-population that did VET in Schools. Similarly, for females the engagement rate increased from 56% to 59%.

PROPORTION OF STUDENTS WHO DID NOT GO ON TO HIGHER EDUCATION(a) THAT WERE FULLY ENGAGED IN 2011
Graph: Proportion of 2006 Year 11 students who did not go on to higher education that were fully engaged in 2011
a) Year 11 students in 2006 who had not completed a Bachelor degree or above by 2011 and were not studying at a tertiary institution during 2011.
Source: 2006 VET in Schools and 2011 Census of Population and Housing integrated dataset

Higher level qualifications lead to better engagement outcomes

Those that did VET in Schools study at the Certificate III level or above had higher rates of full engagement five years after doing Year 11 (78%) than those that studied at the Certificate I (73%) or Certificate II level (74%). This was apparent for both males and females.

PROPORTION OF STUDENTS(a) WHO WERE FULLY ENGAGED IN 2011 BY LEVEL OF 2006 MAIN QUALIFICATION(b)
Graph: Proportion of 2006 Year 11 VET in Schools students who were fully engaged in 2011 by level of 2006 qualification
a) Year 11 VET in Schools students in 2006.
b) Main VET in Schools qualification undertaken in 2006.
Source: 2006 VET in Schools and 2011 Census of Population and Housing integrated dataset


WHAT ARE THE EMPLOYMENT OUTCOMES FOR VET IN SCHOOL STUDENTS?

VET in Schools is associated with higher levels of employment

For students that did not go on to higher education, those that did VET in Schools were more likely to be employed full time five years after doing Year 11. In this group, the level of full-time employment for males five years after Year 11 increased from 63% to 66% for the sub-population that did VET in Schools. Similarly, for females the level of full-time employment increased from 46% to 49%.

PROPORTION OF STUDENTS THAT DID NOT GO ON TO HIGHER EDUCATION(a), AND WERE EMPLOYED FULL TIME IN 2011
Graph: Proportion of 2006 Year 11 students that did not go on to higher education, and were employed full time in 2011
a) Year 11 students in 2006 who had not completed a Bachelor degree or above by 2011 and were not studying at a tertiary institution during 2011
Source: 2006 VET in Schools and 2011 Census of Population and Housing integrated dataset

For males, trade studies are associated with better employment outcomes

Three of the most frequent fields of study for male VET in Schools students were trade based, with building (12%), automotive engineering and technology (7%), and mechanical and industrial engineering and technology (6%) being among the most common fields of study. More young men who studied in trade-based fields as part of their Year 11 schooling in 2006 were employed full time in 2011 (59%) compared with those who studied in non-trade fields (54%).

Lower rates of full-time employment were seen five years after Year 11 for those males who studied computer science (37%), information systems (46%), and performing arts (44%) as part of VET in Schools. However, those that did these non-trade fields as part of their VET in Schools study were more likely to go on to higher education after school.

The most common fields of study for females doing VET in Schools were food and hospitality (30%), office studies (19%) and employment skills programmes (7%). While female VET in Schools students were less likely than males to be employed full time five years after Year 11, the fields associated with higher rates of full time employment were tourism (46%), office studies (43%), and personal services (which includes services such as hairdressing and beauty therapy) (42%).

PROPORTION OF MALE STUDENTS(a) EMPLOYED FULL TIME IN 2011 BY FIELD OF STUDY(b) IN 2006
PROPORTION OF FEMALE STUDENTS(a) EMPLOYED FULL TIME IN 2011 BY FIELD OF STUDY(b) IN 2006
Graph: Proportion of male 2006 Year 11 VET in Schools students employed full time in 2011 by field of study in 2006
Graph: Proportion of female 2006 Year 11 VET in Schools students employed full time in 2011 by field of study in 2006
a) Year 11 VET in Schools students in 2006.
b) Most frequent fields of study for males.
Source: 2006 VET in Schools and 2011 Census of Population and Housing integrated dataset
a) Year 11 VET in Schools students in 2006.
b) Most frequent fields of study for females.
Source: 2006 VET in Schools and 2011 Census of Population and Housing integrated dataset

Many students who study trades end up working in trades

The field that VET in Schools students study in is not necessarily related to their field of employment after finishing school. However, some fields of study lead to higher rates of people working in related occupations, and switching between different trades is relatively common. For example, amongst males that studied building as part of VET in Schools, the most common occupations five years later for those working full time were carpenters and joiners (17%), electricians (9%), plumbers (7%) and construction managers (3%). For those that studied sales and marketing, the most common occupations five years later were carpenters and joiners (7%), electricians (6%), and retail managers (5%).

For females, many of those that studied personal services as part of VET in Schools were working full time in related fields, such as hairdressing (17%) and beauty therapy (3%). Of those that studied office studies, the most common occupations were general clerks (11%) and receptionists (8%).


DO VET IN SCHOOLS STUDENTS PURSUE FURTHER STUDY?

More than one in five VET in Schools students complete a Certificate III or IV

While students participating in VET in Schools are generally studying towards a non-school qualification as part of their senior secondary certificate, many students have not attained a qualification by the time they complete Year 12. This may be because they undertake a variety of modules which do not contribute towards a single qualification or because they have not completed all the requirements for their qualification. Some students will go on to complete these qualifications outside of school, others may choose to start different qualifications and other may not undertake further study.

More VET in Schools students in Year 11 in 2006 had completed a non-school qualification (41%) by 2011 compared to Year 11 students overall (32%). A further 26% of VET in Schools students were still studying for their first qualification in 2011, compared with 39% of students overall.

PROPORTION OF STUDENTS(a) WITH A QUALIFICATION(b) OR STUDYING IN 2011
Graph: Proportion of 2006 Year 11 students with a qualification or studying in 2011
a)Year 11 students in 2006.
b) Qualifications completed by 2011.
Source: 2006 VET in Schools and 2011 Census of Population and Housing integrated dataset

Most of the Year 11 students in 2006 who had completed a non-school qualification by 2011 had attained a Certificate III or IV. For both males and females, Year 11 students who had undertaken VET in Schools in 2006 were more likely to have completed a Certificate III/IV qualification (22%) than all students of the same year (16%), however, they were less likely to have completed a Bachelor degree or above (4%) compared with all students (6%).


DO VET IN SCHOOLS STUDENTS GO ON TO STUDY IN A RELATED FIELD?

Only around one in twenty VET in schools students go on to complete further study in a related field

Of all the VET in Schools students who were doing Year 11 in 2006, 6% of males and 4% of females had completed a higher qualification in a related field by 2011.

For males, the most frequent fields of study in 2006 which led to having completed related study at a higher level by 2011 were building (13%), mechanical and industrial engineering and technology (12%), and automotive engineering and technology (11%). The field with the highest proportion of females that went on to complete further study in the same field was personal services (19%).

PROPORTION OF MALE STUDENTS(a) WHO COMPLETED A HIGHER QUALIFICATION BY 2011 IN THE SAME FIELD, BY FIELD OF STUDY(b) IN 2006
PROPORTION OF FEMALE STUDENTS(a) WHO COMPLETED A HIGHER QUALIFICATION BY 2011 IN THE SAME FIELD, BY FIELD OF STUDY(b) IN 2006
Graph: Proportion of male 2006 Year 11 students who completed a higher qualification by 2011 in the same field, by field of study in 2006
Graph: Proportion of female 2006 Year 11 students who completed a higher qualification by 2011 in the same field, by field of study in 2006
a) Year 11 VET in Schools students in 2006.
b) Most frequent fields of study for males.
Source: 2006 VET in Schools and 2011 Census of Population and Housing integrated dataset
a) Year 11 VET in Schools students in 2006.
b) Most frequent fields of study for females. Excludes "Employment skills programmes" as further study cannot be undertaken in this field.
Source: 2006 VET in Schools and 2011 Census of Population and Housing integrated dataset


LOOKING AHEAD

The Census of Population and Housing is a unique data source in that it captures detailed information about the Australian population and allows analysis to be performed on small groups and for small geographic areas. Integrating data from the 2011 Census with VET in Schools data from 2006 provides a new opportunity to analyse the employment and study outcomes of students five years after undertaking VET in Schools. The integrated dataset complements and extends the current evidence base available from sample surveys.

This analysis has shown that, for school students that don't go on to higher education, participation in VET in Schools is associated with higher rates of engagement in employment or study five years after studying at school. It has also shown that those that undertake trade-related fields of study are more likely to be in full-time employment five years after studying at school.

There is considerable scope for further analysis in this area. Particular areas of interest might include students with a disability, the effects of parent and household characteristics on student outcomes, and students from remote areas. Further work could also be done to investigate how school achievement relates to students choosing VET in Schools and their outcomes after finishing school. Over time, the value of this kind of analysis will grow as more years of data become available to allow exploration of longer term outcomes.


ENDNOTES

1. Council of Australian Governments, 2009, National Partnership Agreement on Youth Attainment and Transitions, COAG, Canberra, <www.coag.gov.au>

2. The proportions of students undertaking VET in Schools are calculated as the weighted sum of VET in Schools students (from the 2006 VET in Schools and 2011 Census of Population and Housing integrated dataset) divided by the weighted sum of all equivalent students (from the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset).

3. Whether a student comes from an advantaged or disadvantaged area is established through the Index of Relative Socio-economic Advantage and Disadvantage of the Statistical Area 1 of their usual address. Proportions here are calculated with the 2006 Census of Population and Housing as the denominator rather than the Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset due to constraints on data availability.

4. Anlezark, A., Karmel, T. and Ong, K., 2006, Have school vocational education and training programs been successful?, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Adelaide, <www.ncver.edu.au>

5. Council of Australian Governments, 2012, Education in Australia 2012: Five years of performance, Chapter 4 - Leaving school, COAG Reform Council, Canberra, <www.coag.gov.au>