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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 25-44 years PEOPLE AGED 25–44 YEARS


PEOPLE AGED 25-44 YEARS

These are the years during which a person might typically have started working and establishing a career. They may engage in non-formal learning to increase knowledge specific to a workplace, possibly as a means of advancing a career. They may also still be engaged in formal studies but are more likely to be participating in non-formal learning.

It is of particular interest to understand whether people with disabilities in this age group attain better outcomes having largely completed their formal studies. It is also of interest to know if they have opportunities to access ongoing work-related training and whether they experience the same degree of upward mobility in jobs as people without disability.


Still engaged in formal studies

Of all people aged 25-44 years, the younger group aged 25-34 years were more likely to be engaged in studying for formal qualifications than those aged 35-44 years. Of people with specific restrictions or limitations aged 25-34 years, 13% were currently studying for a formal qualification compared to 8% of people with specific restrictions or limitations aged 35-44 years.

Of all people aged 25-44 years with specific restrictions, females (12%) were more likely to be studying for formal qualifications than males (8%).


Education and Employment Outcomes

Marginal attachment to the Labour Force

In the ABS publication Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia, Sep 2010 (cat. no. 6220.0), persons who are marginally attached to the labour force are defined as meeting some, but not all, of the criteria required to be classified as unemployed. A person is considered to be marginally attached to the labour force if they:

  • wanted to work and were actively looking for work (but, unlike unemployed people, were not available to start work in the reference week); or
  • wanted to work and were not actively looking for work but were available to start work within four weeks.

In SET 2009 there was significant disparity between the sexes with regard to marginal attachment to the labour force status. Of all people with specific restrictions who were marginally attached to the labour force, 68% were female and 32% were male.

People with specific restrictions who were marginally attached to the workforce were less likely to have non-school qualifications (36%) than people with no disability (59%).

Level of highest educational attainment and employment

In SET 2009, there was a direct relationship between the level of educational attainment and employment across all people aged 25-44yrs, regardless of disability i.e. the higher a person's educational attainment, the greater the likelihood of their being employed and, conversely, the lower their attainment, the greater the likelihood of their being unemployed/not in the labour force. However, people with specific restrictions had markedly lower overall rates of employment (59%) compared to those with no disability (83%). Table 2 details the level of highest educational attainment of people aged 25-44yrs in SET 2009.

Diagram: This is a table showing the level of highest educational attainment of people aged  25-44 years, by severity of disability

People with degrees, regardless of disability, generally fared well in employment (Graph 8). Of people with specific restrictions who had degrees, 83% were employed compared to 86% of people with no disability. There were similar high rates of employment amongst those with advanced diplomas and diplomas. Of people with specific restrictions, 78% were employed compared to 80% of people with no disability.

However, people with specific limitations or restrictions who had attained at certificate III and IV levels, did not share similar employment outcomes to those with no disability holding the same qualifications. Of people with specific limitations or restrictions who had attained Certificates III or IV, 72% were employed compared to 89% of those with no disability.

This disparity became more marked the lower the level of qualification. Of people with specific limitations and restrictions who had Year 12 attainment, 55% were employed compared to 81% of people with no disability holding the same level of qualification. Of people with specific limitations and restrictions with qualifications lower than Year 12, 37% were employed compared to 75% of people with no disability.

In view of the fact that people with specific limitations or restrictions were more likely to obtain VET qualifications as their highest level of educational attainment than those without disability, particular attention should be drawn to the fact that, having attained these qualifications, they have less parity in employment with people who have no disability, even though they may have similar qualifications.




This is a graph showing the proportion of people aged 25-44 years in employment, by disability status

Main field of highest educational attainment of employed persons

SET 2009 recorded that people with specific restrictions who were employed had the greatest proportion of educational attainments in mixed field programs (36%) such as general education, social skills and employment skills. This compared to 15% of people with specific restrictions with educational attainments in Management and Commerce and 11% in Society and Culture. Further information on what is included in each of the categories of educational attainment is available in the ABS publication Australian Standard Classification of Education (cat. no 1272.0).

Non-school qualifications

Non-school qualifications are gained through study in higher educational institutions. They refer to the attainment of degrees, diplomas and certificates and are an indication of recognised skill in a particular field of study. A person may hold more than one non-school qualification in the same subject matter or in a different field of study.

People aged 25-44 years with specific limitation or restriction and those with profound/severe core-activity limitation generally had lower rates of qualification than people with no disability (Graph 9). The implications of this are significant for people with disabilities in that qualifications are deemed to be the pathway to better career opportunities.

However, the data indicates that although people were less likely to be in tertiary education compared to people without disability, those who did undertake tertiary study were just as likely as people without disability to gain multiple qualifications. Most people with multiple qualifications completed these in different fields and at different levels of study, regardless of disability.


This is a graph showing the number of non-school qualifications attained by people aged 25-44 years, by severity of disability


Non-school qualifications of employed persons

For people employed at the time of the survey, the differences in the number of qualifications between people with or without disability were less marked (Graph 10). This indicates that people with disabilities who had qualifications were increasingly competitive in the labour market. Of those employed persons with profound/severe core-activity limitation, 33% had two or more non-school qualifications compared to 34% of those with specific restrictions and 32% of those with no disability. The differences between these three groups were not statistically significant.



This is a graph showing the number of non-school qualifications of employed people aged 25-44 years, by severity of disability


Participation in work related training

In addition to formal learning, many educational institutions offer courses that enable a person to learn new skills or to improve existing skills, either for work purposes or out of personal interest. In order to maintain relevancy to the changing needs of the labour market and to increase the capacity of employees to meet these needs, many workplaces also provide ongoing training for their employees. These courses form a vital educational service to the nation but unlike formal education, do not lead to qualifications. The Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers does not include measures of work related training, but SET 2009 is a rich source for this data. It contains detailed information on the number of courses a person might have undertaken for work, who provided this training, whether there were associated costs etc.

Participation in non-formal courses

Of people with specific limitations and restrictions, 68% had participated in a work-related non-formal course(s) in the last 12 months compared to 76% of those with no disability.

Field of course

SET 2009 provides information on the field or subject matter covered by courses and the number of courses a person might have attended. For example, of those with specific restriction who had attended one course only, Graph 11 shows the field of non-formal course attended.



This is a graph showing the field of non-formal course done by people aged 25-44 years for work related reasons, by severity of disability

Number of courses and expenses incurred

An examination of the number and type of courses attended by people for work related reasons (Graph 12) indicates that people accessed work related training in roughly the same proportions regardless of disability.

However, people with disabilities reported that they incurred more costs in attending work related courses compared to people with no disabilities. Of those with profound/severe disability, 28% said that they had incurred expenses and 26% of those with specific limitations and restrictions reported the same compared to 18% of those with no disability.



This is a graph showing the number of non-formal courses completed by people aged 25-44 years for work related reasons, by severity of disability


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