6227.0 - Education and Work, Australia, May 2018 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/11/2018   
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1 This publication contains results from the 2018 Survey of Education and Work (SEW) conducted throughout Australia in May 2018 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 about education.

2 The SEW provides annual information on a range of key indicators of educational participation and attainment of persons aged 15-74 years, along with data on people's transition between education and work. The annual time series allows for ongoing monitoring of the level of education of Australia's population including participation in current and previous study; type of educational institution attended; highest year of school completed; level and field of highest non-school qualification; characteristics of people's transition between education and work; and selected characteristics of apprentices and trainees.

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 monthly LFS, which also apply to supplementary surveys. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics.


4 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, Feb 2018 (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001).

5 In July 2014, the LFS survey questionnaire underwent a number of developments. For further information see Information Paper: Questionnaire Used in the Labour Force Survey, July 2014.



6 The scope of the SEW is restricted to persons aged 15-74 years who were usual residents of private dwellings and non-institutionalised special dwellings excluding:

  • members of the permanent defence forces;
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from the Census of Population and Housing and estimated resident populations;
  • overseas residents in Australia;
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants);
  • institutionalised persons (e.g. patients in hospitals, residents of retirement homes, residents of homes for persons with disabilities, inmates of prisons);
  • Indigenous communities; and
  • boarding school pupils.

7 Boarding school pupils have been excluded from the scope of the SEW since 2005, but were included in earlier collections.

8 SEW excludes people living in Indigenous Communities. Since 2009, SEW has included people living in 'very remote' areas who are not in Indigenous Communities. Prior to SEW 2009, all persons living in 'very remote' parts of Australia were excluded. Nationally, less than 1% of persons in scope of SEW live in 'very remote' areas that are not Indigenous Communities. In the Northern Territory, this proportion is higher, at around 8%.

9 In 2013, the scope of SEW was extended to include all persons aged 65-74 years for the first time. From 2009 to 2012, persons aged 65-74 years who were in the labour force, or were marginally attached to the labour force were included. Persons were determined to be marginally attached to the labour force if they were not in the labour force in the reference week, wanted to work and:
  • were actively looking for work but did not meet the availability criteria to be classified as unemployed; or
  • were not actively looking for work but were available to start work within four weeks or could start work within four weeks.
Prior to 2009 all persons aged 65-74 were excluded from the scope of SEW.

10 Persons who are permanently unable to work were included in the scope of SEW for the first time in 2013. There were an estimated 464,255 people who reported being permanently unable to work in May 2018.


11 The estimates in this publication relate to persons covered by the survey scope. 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.


12 Approximately 92% of the selected households were fully responding to the Monthly Population survey, which resulted in 41,781 completed interviews.


13 Information was collected from respondents over a two week period in May 2018. The data were collected through interviews, conducted either face-to-face or over the telephone, or respondents were able to provide their information over the internet via a self-completed form.

14 The May 2013 SEW was the first supplementary survey to incorporate this online data collection method, where the option was offered to just over one-quarter of the SEW sample. The May 2014 SEW was the first time this option was offered to all respondents. In 2018, 31% of the total SEW sample took up the online option.

15 All information, either from interview or online self-completion, was obtained from any responsible adult in the household who was asked to respond on behalf of all persons in the household in scope of the survey.



16 Weighting is the process of adjusting results from a sample survey to infer results for the total population. To do this, a 'weight' is allocated to each enumerated person. The weight is a value which indicates how many persons in the population are represented by the sample person.

17 The first step in calculating weights for each unit is to assign an initial weight, which is the inverse of the probability of the unit being selected in the survey. For example, if the probability of a person being selected in the survey was 1 in 300, then the person would have an initial weight of 300 (that is, they represent 300 people).

Population benchmarks

18 The initial weights are then calibrated to align with independent estimates of the population, referred to as benchmarks. The population included in the benchmarks is the survey scope. This calibration process ensures that the weighted data conform to the independently estimated distribution of the population described by the benchmarks rather than to the distribution within the sample itself. Calibration to population benchmarks helps to compensate for over or under-enumeration of particular categories of persons which may occur due to either the random nature of sampling or non-response.

19 The survey was benchmarked to the estimated resident population (ERP) aged 15-74 years living in private dwellings and non-institutionalised special dwellings in each state and territory. People living in Indigenous communities were excluded.


20 Survey estimates of counts of persons are obtained by summing the weights of persons with the characteristics of interest.

21 To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values. This technique is called perturbation. Perturbation involves small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics. After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. For instance, the estimated number of persons in May 2018 aged 15-74 years remains 18,427.8 irrespective of perturbation. However, adding up cell values in Data Cubes to derive a total will not necessarily give the same result as published totals. The introduction of perturbation in publications ensures that these statistics are consistent with statistics released via services such as TableBuilder.


22 All sample surveys are subject to error which can be broadly categorised as either: sampling error or non-sampling error. For more information refer to the Technical Note.

Seasonal factors

23 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.


Interpretation of results

24 The method of obtaining information about all the persons in the household from any responsible adult is only used for collecting information on topics where other members of the household are likely to be able to answer the questions. If the responsible adult is unable to supply all of the details for another individual in the household, a personal interview is conducted with that particular individual.


Comparability of time series

25 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.

26 Since 2005, boarding school pupils have been excluded from the scope of the SEW, but were included in earlier collections. For more details, see the Scope section of these Explanatory Notes.

27 Since 2007, industry data in the SEW have been classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0) and prior to this, were classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 1993 (cat. no. 1292.0). Therefore, industry data from SEW prior to 2007 are not directly comparable to data for 2007 and subsequent years.

28 Since 2007, occupation data in the SEW have been classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classifications of Occupations, First Edition, Revision 1 (cat. no. 1220.0) and prior to this, were classified according to the Australia Standard Classifications of Occupations, Second Edition, 1997 (cat. no. 1220.0). Occupation data are not directly comparable between these two editions of the classification. Therefore, occupation data from SEW prior to 2007 are not directly comparable to 2007 and subsequent years.

29 Prior to 2008, 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 and in 2009, the scope was further extended to include persons aged 65-74 years for these questions. In 2008, the definition for apprentices and trainees changed from those employed as apprentices/trainees to include only those with a formal contract under the Australian Apprenticeships scheme. Therefore data on apprentices from previous years are not directly comparable to 2008 and subsequent data.

30 Revisions were made to the in-scope population in 2013. All respondents aged 65-74 years were included for the first time, rather than just those in the labour force or marginally attached to the labour force. Persons who were permanently unable to work were also included.

31 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 January 2014 to take account of the results of the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. Estimates from supplementary surveys conducted from and including 2014 are therefore based on these 2011 population benchmarks.

32 Since 2014, persons who are identified in the Labour Force Survey as currently studying a school level qualification were asked in SEW whether they are currently studying for any non-school qualifications. If the respondent was still attending school, their level of study was recorded as their current year of schooling, not their non-school qualification.

33 After each Census, population estimates are normally revised back five years to the previous Census year. As announced in the June 2012 issue of Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0), intercensal error between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses was larger than normal due to improved methodologies used in the 2011 Census Post Enumeration Survey. The intercensal error analysis indicated that previous population estimates for the base Census years were over-counted. An indicative estimate of the size of the over-count is that there should have been 240,000 fewer people at June 2006, 130,000 fewer in 2001 and 70,000 fewer in 1996. As a result, Estimated Resident Population estimates have been revised for the last 20 years rather than the usual five. Consequently, estimates of particular populations derived since SEW 2014 may be lower than those published for previous years as the SEW estimates have not been revised. Therefore, comparisons of SEW estimates since 2014 with previous years should not be made. However, for comparable data items, comparison of rates or proportions between years is appropriate.

34 Since 2014, data in the SEW has been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential statistics. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals. See point 21 for more information on perturbation.

Changes made to 2018 publication tables

35 For changes, please refer to 'Table title concordance and changes - SEW 2018 to 2017' in the Downloads tab.

Comparability with other ABS surveys

36 Since the SEW is conducted as a supplement to the LFS, data items collected in the LFS are also available in SEW. However, there are some important differences between the two surveys. The SEW sample is a subset of the LFS sample (see the Introduction of these Explanatory Notes) and has a response rate which is slightly lower than the LFS response rate for the same period. Also, the scope of the SEW differs slightly to the scope of the LFS (refer to the Scope section above). Due to these differences between the samples, the SEW data are weighted as a separate process to the weighting of LFS data.

37 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 2018 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). From September 2016, the ABS has published education data from the LFS as part of the Labour Force publication Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003). For more information on the differences between SEW and LFS in relation to education data items see the Fact Sheet: Expanded education data from the Labour Force Survey (in cat. no. 6291.0.55.003)

38 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 relative standard errors (RSEs) on estimates and those of other survey estimates where comparisons are made.

39 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.

40 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 and whether the data are collected from the person themselves or from a proxy respondent. 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.


41 A number of data cubes (spreadsheets) containing all tables produced for this publication are available from the Downloads tab of the publication. The data cubes present tables of estimates and proportions, and their associated measures of error.

42 For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the data, the survey microdata will be released through the TableBuilder product. For more details, refer to the TableBuilder information, Microdata: Education and Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0.30.001).

43 Custom statistical tables incorporating data items, populations and geographic areas selected to meet individual requirements can be produced on request. Custom statistical tables are subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints which may limit what can be provided. Enquiries on the information available and the cost of these services should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.


44 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.


45 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 2000. Since May 2001, the results of the survey have been published in Education and Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0).


46 The ABS intends to conduct this survey again in May 2019.


47 Refer to the Related Information tab for other ABS publications which may be of interest.

48 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily upcoming release advice on the website that details products to be released in the week ahead.