6227.0 - Education and Work, Australia, May 2008 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/11/2008   
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1 The statistics in this publication were compiled from data collected in the Survey of Education and Work (SEW) that was conducted throughout Australia in May 2008 as a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). Respondents to the LFS who were in scope of the supplementary survey were asked further questions.

2 The SEW provides a range of key indicators of educational participation and attainment of persons aged 15-64 years, along with data on people's transition between education and work. The annual time series allows for ongoing monitoring, and provides a link with the more detailed range of educational indicators available from the four-yearly Survey of Education and Training. Specifically, the supplementary survey provides information on: people presently participating in education; level of highest non-school qualification; characteristics of people's transition between education and work; and data on apprentices.

3 The publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about survey design, sample redesign, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the LFS, which also apply to supplementary surveys. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing relevant to both the LFS and supplementary surveys. For more details on recent changes to the LFS see Information Paper: Labour Force Sample Design, Nov 2007 (cat. no. 6269.0) or paragraph 11.

4 From April 2001, the LFS has been conducted using a redesigned questionnaire containing additional questions and some minor definitional changes. These changes also affect the supplementary surveys. For more details, see Information Paper: Implementing the Redesigned Labour Force Survey Questionnaire, 2001 (cat. no. 6295.0) and Information Paper: Questionnaires Used in the Labour Force Survey, 2004 (cat. no. 6232.0).


5 The conceptual framework used in Australia's LFS aligns closely with the standards and guidelines set out in Resolutions of the International Conference of Labour Statisticians. Descriptions of the underlying concepts and structure of Australia's labour force statistics, and the sources and methods used in compiling these estimates, are presented in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods 2007 (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001) which is available on the ABS website <https://www.abs.gov.au>.


6 The scope of the SEW was restricted to persons aged 15-64 years and excluded the following persons:

  • members of the permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from the Census and estimated resident population figures
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants)
  • persons permanently unable to work.

7 Patients in hospitals, residents of homes (e.g. retirement homes, homes for persons with disabilities), boarding school pupils and inmates of prisons were excluded from this supplementary survey.

8 Boarding school pupils have been excluded from the scope of the SEW since 2005, but were included in earlier collections. The LFS in May 2008 yielded an estimate of 19,000 boarding school pupils aged 15 years and over, who were excluded from the SEW.

9 This supplementary survey was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded persons living in very remote parts of Australia. The exclusion of these persons had only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, except the Northern Territory where such persons account for around 23% of the population.


10 The estimates in this publication relate to persons covered by the survey in May 2008. In the LFS, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling and hence has only one chance of selection in the survey. See Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for more details.


11 Approximately 96% of the 24,000 selected households were fully responding to the SEW. All persons aged 15-64 years in these households were interviewed for the SEW, which resulted in a total of 37,769 completed interviews. Following the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, a new sample design was introduced for the LFS which resulted in the 2008 SEW sample reducing from the 45,471 interviews completed in 2007 (the ABS reviews the LFS sample design following each Census). The smaller sample size has resulted in the relative standard errors (RSE) for estimates increasing by approximately 10% on average in the 2008 SEW. The Northern Territory estimates are an exception, because the sample size has increased in the Northern Territory, and therefore the RSEs have decreased. For more information see Information Paper: Labour Force Sample Design, Nov 2007 (cat. no. 6269.0).


12 Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors:
  • Sampling error is the difference between the published estimate and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings had been included in the survey. For more details see the Technical Note.
  • Non-sampling errors are inaccuracies that occur because of imperfections in reporting by respondents and interviewers, and errors made in coding and processing data. These inaccuracies may occur in any enumeration, whether it be a full count or a sample. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers, and efficient processing procedures.


13 The estimates are based on information collected in the survey month, and due to seasonal factors they may not be representative of other months of the year.



14 Country of birth data are classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) 1998 (Revision 2.03) (cat. no. 1269.0). Revision 2.03 amends the Standard Australian Classification of Countries, 1998 (cat. no. 1269.0) according to the creation of the independent republics of Montenegro and Serbia; updates to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and UN classification codes; and valid output code options for some supplementary codes. These revisions have been effective since January 2007.


15 Industry data are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).


16 Occupation data are classified according to the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classifications of Occupations (ANZSCO), First Edition, 2006 (cat.no. 1220.0).


17 In 2001, the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) (cat. no. 1272.0) replaced the ABS Classification of Qualifications (ABSCQ) ( cat. no. 1262.0). The ASCED is a national standard classification which can be applied to all sectors of the Australian education system including schools, vocational education and training and higher education. ASCED replaces a number of classifications previously used in administrative and statistical systems, including the ABSCQ. The ASCED comprises two classifications: Level of Education and Field of Education.

18 Level of Education is defined as a function of the quality and quantity of learning involved in an educational activity. There are nine broad levels, 15 narrow levels and 64 detailed levels. For definitions of these levels see the Australian Standard Classification of Education, 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

19 Field of Education is defined as the subject matter of an educational activity. Fields of education are related to each other through the similarity of subject matter, through the broad purpose for which the education is undertaken, and through the theoretical content which underpins the subject matter. There are 12 broad fields, 71 narrow fields and 356 detailed fields. For definitions of these fields see the Australian Standard Classification of Education, 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).


20 Level of highest educational attainment was derived from information on highest year of school completed and level of highest non-school qualification. The derivation process determines which of the 'non-school' or 'school' attainments will be regarded as the highest. Usually the higher ranking attainment is self-evident, but in some cases some secondary education is regarded, for the purposes of obtaining a single measure, as higher than some certificate level attainments.

21 The following decision table is used to determine which of the responses to questions on highest year of school completed (coded to ASCED Broad Level 6) and level of highest non-school qualification (coded to ASCED Broad Level 5) is regarded as the highest. It is emphasised that this table was designed for the purpose of obtaining a single value for level of highest educational attainment and is not intended to convey any other ordinality.

Diagram: This table cross-tabulates highest level of school completed by highest level of non-school qualfication to define the decision pattern for level of highest educational attainment

22 The decision table is also used to rank the information provided in a survey about the qualifications and attainments of a single individual. It does not represent any basis for comparison between differing qualifications. For example, a person whose highest year of school completed was Year 12, and whose level of highest non-school qualification was a Certificate III, would have those responses crosschecked on the decision table and would as a result have their level of highest educational attainment output as Certificate III. However, if the same person answered 'certificate' to the highest non-school qualification question, without any further detail, it would be crosschecked against Year 12 on the decision table as Certificate not further defined. The output would then be Year 12. The decision table, therefore, does not necessarily imply that one qualification is 'higher' than the other.


23 Revisions are made to population benchmarks for the LFS after each five-yearly Census of Population and Housing. The last such revision was made in February 2004 to take account of the results of the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. Estimates from supplementary surveys conducted from and including February 2004 are therefore based on revised population benchmarks.

24 Supplementary surveys are not always conducted on the full LFS sample. Since August 1994 the sample for supplementary surveys has been restricted to no more than seven-eighths of the LFS sample. Since it was introduced, this survey has been conducted on various proportional samples and therefore sampling errors associated with previous supplementary surveys may vary from the sampling error for this survey.

25 Since 2005, boarding school pupils have been excluded from the scope of the SEW, but were included in earlier collections. For more details, see paragraph 8 of the Explanatory Notes.

26 Since 2007, industry data in the SEW are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0). Industry data prior to this were classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 1993 (cat. no. 1292.0). Therefore, industry data from SEWs prior to 2007 are not directly comparable to 2008 industry data.

27 Since 2007, occupation data in the SEW are classified according to the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classifications of Occupations, First Edition, 2006 (cat.no. 1220.0). Occupation data prior to this were classified according to the Australia Standard Classifications of Occupations, Second Edition, 1997 (cat.no. 1220.0). Therefore, occupation data from SEWs prior to 2007 are not directly comparable to 2008 occupation data.

28 In previous years, only persons aged 15-54 years were included in the apprenticeship/traineeship survey questions. In 2008, the age scope was extended to include persons aged 55-64 years for these questions. Additionally, the definition for apprentices and trainees changed from those employed as apprentices/trainees to include only those with a formal contract under the Australian Apprenticeship Scheme. Therefore data on apprentices from previous years are not directly comparable to 2008 data. Note that Australian School-based Apprenticeships are excluded.


29 Since the SEW is conducted as a supplement to the LFS, data items collected in the LFS are also available. However, there are some important differences between the two surveys. The SEW sample is a subset of the LFS sample (see Paragraph 1 of these Explanatory Notes) and the SEW had a response rate of 96% which is lower than the LFS response rate for the same period of 97%. Due to these differences between the samples, the SEW data are weighted as a separate process to the weighting of LFS data. Differences may therefore be found in the estimates collected in the LFS and published as part of the SEW, when compared with estimates published in the May 2008 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).

30 Additionally, estimates from the SEW may differ from the estimates produced from other ABS collections, for several reasons. The SEW is a sample survey and its results are subject to sampling error. Results may differ from other sample surveys, which are also subject to sampling error. Users should take account of the RSEs on estimates and those of other survey estimates where comparisons are made.

31 Differences may also exist in the scope and/or coverage of the SEW compared to other surveys. Differences in estimates, when compared to the estimates of other surveys, may result from different reference periods reflecting seasonal variations, non-seasonal events that may have impacted on one period but not another, or because of underlying trends in the phenomena being measured.

32 Finally, differences can occur as a result of using different collection methodologies. This is often evident in comparisons of similar data items reported from different ABS collections where, after taking account of definition and scope differences and sampling error, residual differences remain. These differences are often the result of the mode of the collections, such as whether data are collected by an interviewer or self-enumerated by the respondent, whether the data are collected from the person themselves or from a proxy respondent, and the level of experience of the interviewers. Differences may also result from the context in which questions are asked, i.e. where in the interview the questions are asked and the nature of preceding questions. The impacts on data of different collection methodologies are difficult to quantify. As a result, every effort is made to minimise such differences.

33 The following table, Comparison of Data from SEW to Other ABS Sources, presents comparisons between a number of key SEW data items and similar data items from other ABS sources. These sources include data collected in the LFS, which were reported in the May 2008 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) and data collected from the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALLS), which were reported in the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, Summary Results, Australia, 2007 (cat. no. 4228.0). The comparison shows SEW data are broadly consistent with these ABS sources.

Comparison of Data from SEW to other ABS sources

Other ABS sources
SEW - May 2008

labour force survey-may 2008(a)(b)
Labour force status
Employed full-time
Employed part-time
Not in the labour force
Country of birth
Born in Australia
Born overseas
adult literacy and life skills survey-july 2006, september 2006-january 2007(a)
Highest year of school completed
Year 12
Year 11
Year 10
Year 9
Year 8 or below
No educational attainment/attendance
Level of highet non-school qualification
Postgraduate Degree/Graduate Diploma/Graduate Certificate
Advanced Diploma/Diploma
Bachelor Degree
Certificate III/IV
Certificate I/II
Certificate n.f.d.
Level not determined
No educational attainment/attendance

(a) Data was restricted to persons aged 15-64 to align with the scope of the SEW.
(b) Data includes persons living in very remote areas and living in special dwellings who are out of scope for the SEW.


34 Confidentialised unit record files (CURF) release confidentialised microdata from surveys, thereby facilitating interrogation and analysis of data. For the Education and Work survey, a basic CURF is released every two years and will not be released for the 2008 survey. A CURF will be released for the 2009 survey. For more details, refer to the 2007 SEW CURF, Technical Manual: Survey of Education and Work, Australia - Confidentialised Unit Record File, May 2007 (cat. no. 6227.0.30.002).


35 Results of similar surveys have been published in previous issues. These surveys were conducted annually from February 1964 to February 1974, in May 1975 and 1976, in August 1977 and 1978, and annually in May since 1979. Results of previous surveys were published in Transition from Education to Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0) from 1964 to 2001. Since May 2002, the results of the survey have been published in Education and Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0).


36 The ABS intends to conduct this survey again in May 2009.


37 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


38 Other publications which may be of interest include:
39 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS website <https://www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also issues a daily upcoming release advice on the website that details products to be released in the week ahead. The National Centre for Education and Training theme page also contains a wealth of information and useful references. This site can be accessed through the ABS website <https://www.abs.gov.au>.