4224.0 - Education and Training in Australia , 1998  
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Formal qualifications

In 1997, 40% of 15–64 year olds had a post-school qualification. The most common highest qualification held was a Skilled or Basic vocational qualification (19%) or a Bachelor degree or a higher qualification (14%).

Literacy skills

Almost 44% of 15–64 year olds in 1996 had poor or very poor prose literacy skills (in English) and could be expected to experience some or considerable difficulties in using many of the printed materials encountered in daily life. Nearly 37% of people had skills that would enable them to cope with many printed materials found in everyday life. Some 19% of the population had good or very good prose skills and would be capable of managing all the literacy demands of everyday life.

Labour force participation and qualifications

Overall, 85% of persons with post-school qualifications in 1997 were in the labour force, compared to 70% of persons without such qualifications.

Persons with a Bachelor degree or a higher qualification, in the field of Business and administration, Engineering, or Architecture and building were most likely to be in the labour force (92%).

Labour force participation and literacy skills

Labour force participation rates in 1996 were higher for persons with good or very good skills in literacy. For instance, 86% of those with good or very good Prose skills were in the labour force compared to 60% of those with very poor Prose skills.

Persons with very poor Prose skills were most likely to be employed as Labourers and related workers (30% of those who were employed), while those with good or very good Prose skills were most likely to be Professionals (33%).

Labour market outcomes of education

In 1997, employed persons with Bachelor degrees or higher qualifications were most often employed as Professionals, whereas persons with Other post-school qualifications were most often working as Tradespersons and related workers.

Of those who completed a course in the 12 months prior to April–May 1997, Technical and Further Education (TAFE) graduates were more frequently employed (71%) than Higher education graduates (69%) or school leavers (57%).

Outcomes of training

In 1997, 87% of wage and salary earners who completed in-house training courses, and 84% of those who completed external training courses (in the last 12 months), considered that their job performance had improved as a result of the training.


In 1997, approximately 5.3 million persons aged 15–64 years participated in some form of education and training. The majority (60%) of these were in school education. Of tertiary students, 69% were in Vocational Education and Training (VET) and 31% in Higher education.

Participation in schooling

Approximately 3.2 million students received school education in 1997, 59% at primary level and 41% at secondary level.

Participation in VET

There were 1.5 million VET clients in June 1997, with males outnumbering females (733,800 and 676,700 respectively).

In 1997, 62% of training courses completed in the previous 12 months were in-house courses. Management and professional training was the most common field of training undertaken (29%).

Participation in Higher education

There were 659,000 students enrolled in undergraduate and post-graduate Higher education courses in 1997. Females (358,700) outnumbered males (300,200).

Some 75% of students were studying Bachelor degree courses compared to 21% studying Post-graduate courses, and 4% studying Other undergraduate, Enabling or Non-award courses.

Reasons for not completing study

In 1997, work-related reasons were the most common reasons for non-completion of schooling or tertiary qualifications. Of young persons who had left secondary school before completion, 43% said this was because they got (or wanted) a job or apprenticeship.

Study/training and the labour force

Some 37% of school students aged 15 years and over were in the labour force in 1997, 79% of whom were employed part-time.

Some 92% of part-time TAFE and 93% of part-time Higher education students were in the labour force. Approximately 71% and 70% respectively were employed full-time. Conversely, 51% of full-time TAFE and 54% of full-time Higher education students were employed, predominantly part-time.


School education

There were 9,609 schools in Australia in 1997. Some 77% of primary and 72% of secondary schools were government schools.


In 1997, VET programs were provided by 101 TAFE and other government institutions in 1,000 training provider locations, 599 community centres, and by 1,410 other registered providers. Some 74% of VET clients were enrolled in TAFE or technical colleges and 16% were receiving training from Professional or industry associations.

In 1996, 18% of employers provided structured training to their employees. Larger employers more frequently provided structured training than did smaller employers.

Higher education

In 1997, there were 42 public and 3 private Higher education institutions. Nearly all of these (96%) provided both full-time and part-time courses. Some 16% of the Equivalent Full-Time Student Unit load studied part-time and 8% externally.


Overall, 580,000 persons (7% of all employed persons) worked in the Education industry in 1997, of whom 63% were involved in the provision of school-based education, 26% in tertiary education, and 11% in preschool and other education.

Overall, 95% of teachers, academics and tutors held a recognised post-school qualification in 1996. In the same year, 50% of persons employed in education had good or very good Prose literacy skills.

School teachers

There was the equivalent of 261,900 persons employed full-time in schools in 1997. The proportion of primary school staff who were teachers was the same for both government and non-government schools (79%). However, for secondary schools the proportion who were teachers was 81% for government schools, and 76% for non-government schools.

Persons providing VET

Of the 728,100 persons engaged in the direct provision of VET in 1997, 59% were employed in organisations that provided training primarily for employees of their current employer or business.

Higher education academics

In 1997, staff employed in Higher education totalled 81,400 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) staff units employed in Higher education. Approximately 45% of Higher education staff (FTE) were classified as academics in 1996, the latest year for which such data are available for all Higher education staff.


In 1996–97, total outlays on education amounted to $29.3 billion. Some 84% of this amount was contributed from the government sector, the remainder from the private sector.

Source of funds

Public funding of government school education was $11.2 billion in 1995–96. Generally, secondary students in government schooling were funded at a higher level ($6,110 per student) than their counterparts in primary schooling ($4,410).

In 1997, operating revenues for the publicly funded VET system amounted to $3.8 billion. Of that amount, 56% was provided by State and Territory Governments, 25% by the Commonwealth Government and the remainder from Fee-for-service and Student fees and charges.

In 1996, operating revenues for publicly funded Higher education institutions amounted to $8.1 billion. Of that amount, 57% was from Commonwealth government grants and 12% from Higher Education Contribution Scheme payments.

School expenditure

Of $11.2 billion government expenditure on government school systems in 1995–96, 57% was directed to the payment of teaching staff salaries, 11% to non-teaching staff salaries, and 32% to non-salary costs.

In 1996, 86% of per student expenditure on non-government schools was spent on recurrent operational funding including servicing of debt. The remaining 14% was spent on capital expenditures.

VET expenditure

Publicly funded VET expenditure in 1997 was approximately $4 billion, of which the major components were Employee costs (62%) and Supplies and services (22%).

In the September quarter of 1996, employers in Australia spent $1.2 billion on structured training for their employees. Overall, employers spent $186 per employee on the provision of structured training.

Higher education expenditure

In 1996, operating expenditure for publicly funded Higher education amounted to $7.6 billion. The expense for Salary and Salary-related items was 63% of the total expenses, which included 26% for Academic salaries and 23% for Non-academic salaries.


Overall, 13% of the 8.3 million training courses completed in the 12 months prior to May 1997 incurred a cost to participants. In-house training courses incurred a lower average cost ($149 per course) than external training courses ($312).

Support for training

In 1997, 55% of persons enrolled to study for a post-school qualification, and 54% of participants who completed an external training course in the preceding 12 months received financial support.