6278.0 - Education and Training Experience, Australia, 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/05/2002   
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1. This publication presents results from the Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology (SETIT), which was conducted throughout Australia
from April to August 2001.

2. The survey collected detailed information on:

  • socio-demographic characteristics (such as age, sex and birthplace);
  • employment characteristics (such as labour force status, occupation and industry);
  • educational qualifications obtained;
  • recent study for educational qualifications;
  • access to education and training;
  • details of training courses completed (covering aspects such as time spent and employer support); and
  • use of information technology.

3. The statistics included in this publication present a broad overview of data items collected. Emphasis has been given to providing information on key
measures such as level of highest educational attainment, and participation in education and training.


4. The SETIT was a household survey conducted in both urban and rural areas in all States and Territories. However, people living in sparsely settled parts of Australia were excluded. The exclusion of these people will only have a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual States and Territories, with the exception of the Northern Territory where such people account for over 20% of the population. The exclusion of sparsely settled areas will also have an impact on estimates of Indigenous people Australia-wide, as 20% of the Indigenous population live in sparsely settled areas. As the education and training circumstances of Indigenous Australians living in sparsely settled areas can be quite different to those experienced by Indigenous Australians living in non-sparsely settled areas, analysis of the results needs to reflect the restricted scope of these tables.

5. The survey covered private dwellings only, including houses, flats, home units and any other structures used as private places of residence at the time of the survey. ‘Special’ dwellings such as hotels, motels, hostels, hospitals and short-stay caravan parks were not included in the survey.

6. People aged 15 to 64 years who were usual residents of private dwellings were covered by the survey. Usual residents were those who regarded the dwelling as their own or main home.

7. The following groups were excluded from the survey:
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from the Census and estimated resident population figures;
  • persons whose usual place of residence was outside Australia;
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed
  • in Australia; and
  • visitors to private dwellings.


8. The survey was conducted over 14 weeks, from the end of April to the start of August 2001. Information was collected during personal interviews conducted by trained interviewers who asked members of each household detailed questions about their education and training experience. One person per household was asked about their, and the household's, access to and use of information technology.


Sample size and selection

9. Dwellings were selected at random using a multi-stage area sample of private dwellings. All usual residents of the dwelling aged 15 to 64 years were asked to participate in the survey.

10. The initial sample for the survey consisted of approximately 18,000 dwellings, in each of which there can be more than one household. Of the approximately 13,200 households that remained in the survey after sample loss (e.g. households selected in the survey which had no residents in scope for the survey, vacant or derelict buildings, buildings under construction), approximately 12,100 ( 92%) were fully responding, that is, households where everyone in scope of the survey responded fully to the survey. In total, about 24,400 people responded fully to the survey.



11. 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 sample unit. The weight is a value which indicates how many population units are represented by the sample unit. 12. The first step in calculating weights for each person was to assign an initial weight, which was equal to the inverse of the probability of being selected in the survey. For example, if the probability of a person being selected in the survey was 1 in 600, then the person would have an initial weight of 600 (that is, they represent 600 others).


13. The weights were calibrated to align with independent estimates of the population of interest, referred to as 'benchmarks', in designated sex by age by area of usual residence categories. Weights calibrated against population benchmarks compensate for over or under enumeration of particular categories of persons and ensure that the survey estimates conform to the independently estimated distribution of the population by age, sex and area of usual residence, rather than to the distribution within the sample itself.

14. It should be noted that the benchmarks relate only to persons living in private dwellings, and therefore do not (and are not intended to) match estimates of the total Australian resident population (which include persons living in non-private dwellings, such as hotels) obtained from other sources.


15. Survey estimates of counts of persons are obtained by summing the weights of persons with the characteristic of interest. Estimates of other counts (i.e. training courses and qualifications) are obtained by multiplying the characteristic of interest by the weight of the reporting person, and then aggregating.


Sampling error

16. The estimates provided in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling error.

17. Sampling error is the difference between the published estimates, derived from a sample of persons, and the value that would have been produced if all persons in scope of the survey had been included. For more information refer to the Technical Note.

Non-sampling error

18. Non-sampling error may occur in any collection, whether it is based on a sample or a full count such as a census. Sources of non-sampling error include non-response, errors in reporting by respondents or recording of answers by interviewers, and errors in coding and processing data.

19. Non-response occurs when people cannot or will not cooperate, or cannot be contacted. Non-response can affect the reliability of results and can introduce a bias. The magnitude of any bias depends upon the rate of non-response and the extent of the difference between non-respondents' characteristics and those of people who responded to the survey.

20. The following methods were adopted to reduce the level and impact of non-response:
  • face-to-face interviews with respondents;
  • the use of interviewers who could speak languages other than English, where necessary;
  • follow-up of respondents if there was initially no response; and
  • weighting to population benchmarks to reduce non-response bias.

21. Every effort was made to reduce other non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design and testing of questionnaires, training of interviewers, asking respondents to refer to records where appropriate, and extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing.


22. The estimates in this publication are based on information collected over the reference period, and due to seasonal effects they may not be representative
of other time periods in the year.



23. Industry data have been classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 1993 (Cat. no. 1292.0). ANZSIC classifies employers according to their economic activities, in a structure consisting of four levels (Division, Subdivision, Group and Class).


24. Occupation data have been classified according to the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO), Second Edition, 1997 (Cat. no. 1220.0), which is a skill-based classification of occupations.


25. In 2001, the ABS Classification of Qualifications (ABSCQ) (Cat no. 1262.0) was replaced by the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) (Cat. no. 1272.0). The ASCED is a new national standard classification which can be applied to all sectors of the Australian education system including schools, vocational education and training, and higher education. It 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.

26. 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 see the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (Cat. no. 1272.0).

27. The relationship between categories in the Level of Education classification should be essentially ordinal. In other words, educational activities at Broad Level 1 Postgraduate Degree should be at a higher level than those at the Broad Level 2 Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate, and so on. However, when this idea is applied to the reality of educational provision in Australia, it is not always possible to assert that an ordinal relationship exists among the various levels of education.

28 This is particularly evident in the case of the relationship between Certificates I-IV in Broad Level 5 Certificate Level, and School Education included in Broad Level 6 Secondary Education. In this instance, the level of education associated with secondary education may range from satisfying the entry requirements for admission to a university degree course, to the completion of units in basic literacy, numeracy and life skills. Educational activity in these Education categories may therefore be of an equal, higher or lower level than Certificates found in Broad Level 5 Certificate Level.

29. Level of Highest Educational Attainment can be 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 higher. Usually the higher ranking attainment will be 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.

30. 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) will be regarded as the highest. It is emphasised that this table was designed for the purpose of obtaining a single value for the output variable Level of Highest Educational Attainment and is not intended to convey any other ordinality.
Image - Table - Decision Table: ASCED level of education

31. The decision table is 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 thesame person had answered "Certificate" to the highest non-school qualification question, without offering 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.

32. The decision table was also used to assign a single value for the output variable Level of Education of 2001 Study, for persons who were studying towards a non-school qualification (e.g. Certificate I or II), while undertaking secondary education at school.

33. Field of Education in ASCED 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 see the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (Cat. no. 1272.0).

34. Results of three previous household surveys on this topic were published in Education and Training Experience, Australia, 1997 (Cat. no. 6278.0), Training and Education Experience, Australia, 1993 (Cat. no. 6278.0) and How Workers Get Their Training, Australia, 1989 (Cat. no. 6278.0).

35. Essentially the same methodology was used for the 2001, 1997 and 1993 surveys. However, the scope of the surveys differed. The 2001 survey included all persons aged 15 to 64 years, regardless of their employment or study status. In comparison, the 1997 survey included people aged 15 to 64 who:
  • had worked as wage or salary earners in the previous 12 months;
  • were employed, unemployed or marginally attached to the labour force;
  • were aged 15 to 20 years and still at secondary school; and
  • were not in the labour force but were studying, or had studied in 1997.

36. The scope of the 1993 survey was narrower than that of the 1997 survey. It included people aged 15 to 64 who had worked as wage or salary earners ('employees') in the last 12 months, as well as those who, at the time of the survey, were employers, self-employed, unemployed or marginally attached to the labour force, except:
  • persons aged 15 to 20 sill at school; and
  • persons working as unpaid family helpers or solely for payment in kind unless they had also held a wage or salary job in the last 12 months.

37. Other main differences between the three surveys are as follows.
  • In 2001, data were collected from Australian Defence Force Personnel living in private dwellings. This was not the case in 1997 or 1993.
  • The implementation of ASCED. The ASCED was introduced in 2001 to classify educational activity by the level and field of activity. The ASCED replaces the ABSCQ (which was used in the 1993 and 1997 surveys), where the main focus was on a qualification as a unit of measurement. The ASCED has been designed to be applied to a number of education-related concepts, such as a 'qualification', a 'unit of study', a 'module' or 'course'. The classification includes all pre-primary, primary and secondary education, as well as all formal post-secondary education and training.
  • For the 2001 survey, 'Training' referred to learning activities which were undertaken primarily to obtain, maintain or improve employment-related skills or competencies. 'On-the-job' training was also covered by this definition. This differs from the 1997 survey where the term 'Training' alsoincluded any study undertaken towards the completion of an educational qualification.

38. The ABS can provide advice on the comparison of the 2001 survey results with those from earlier surveys.

Compatibility with Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6203.0)

39. Wherever possible, standard question modules were used to ensure thatdata from the SETIT were comparable with data from other ABS surveys. However, there will be differences between the estimates in this publication, those given in Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6203.0), and publications from surveys conducted as supplements to the ABS's monthly Labour Force Survey. This is due to differences in scope, sample size, definitions and estimation methodology.

40. In this survey, employed persons were defined as those who reported that they worked in, or were away from, a job, business or farm during the reference week (the full week prior to the date of the interview). This included those who usually worked less than an hour, or no hours, in their job. The definition used in Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6203.0) excludes this small group. Also excluded from the Labour Force, Australia definition of 'employed' are contributing family workers who were absent from work in the reference week. This survey classified this small group as employed.

41. In this survey, unemployed persons were defined as those who were not employed during the reference week, had actively looked for full-time or part-time work at any time in the four weeks up to the end of the reference week, and were available for work in the reference week. Unlike this survey, the definition used in Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6203.0) also includes future starters who had actively looked for work in the four weeks to the end of the reference week but reported that they could not have started work in the reference week (as they were waiting to start a job). Future starters are those persons who were not employed during the reference week who were waiting to start a new job within four weeks from the end of the reference week and could have started in the reference week if the job had been available then.

42. For the purposes of collecting training-related information in this survey, persons who said they worked in their own limited liability company were classified as working in their own business, and have not been included in estimates of wage or salary earners. This differs from the definition used in Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6203.0), where persons who work in their own limited liability company, either with or without employees, are classified as employees themselves. In this survey, had such working proprietors been treated as employees, they would have been asked a series of irrelevant questions about training and employer support.

43. In addition, estimates of wage or salary earners in this publication include some who are excluded from estimates of employees in Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6203.0). These are wage or salary earners who were absent from work:
  • on workers' compensation and were not returning (or were unsure about returning) to their employer; or
  • without pay for more than four weeks up to the end of the reference period (for reasons other than an industrial dispute or standard work arrangements).

44. In Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6203.0), these persons are classified as unemployed or not in the labour force according to their activity in the reference week. Therefore, the estimates from this survey will differ from similar estimates published in Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6203.0) in the following areas:
  • employed persons;
  • wage or salary earners;
  • those working in their own business (either with or without employees);
  • unemployed persons;
  • those not in the labour force; and
  • those marginally attached to the labour force.


Results from States and Territories

45. A set of tables in a spreadsheet format equivalent to those in this publication will be produced for each State and Territory (subject to standard error constraints and excluding time series tables) and Australia. These tables can be purchased from this site (as Companion Data to Cat. no. 6278.0) or from the ABS upon request.


46. It is expected that a Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) will be produced from the SETIT, subject to the approval of the Australian Statistician. CURFs are generally made available on a CD-ROM, in both SAS and SPSS format.

Special tabulations

47. As well as releasing publications and standard products, the ABS can make available special tabulations. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, tabulations can be produced from the survey incorporating data items, populations and geographic areas selected to meet individual requirements. These can be provided in printed form, on disk or in spreadsheets.

48. Education data are available on request at the broad, narrow and detailed Level of Education and Field of Education categories. Industry data are available on request at the Group (3 digit) level. Occupation data are available on request at the Unit Group (4 digit) level.

Other products

49. This publication's Summary of Findings, the media release, and a list of data items included in the survey are available free of charge on this site. Further information on the survey and associated products is available from the contact officer listed at the front of this publication, or from the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au/ncets>.


50. Other ABS publications which may be of interest include:

A Directory of Education and Training Statistics (Cat. no. 1136.0) issued irregularly, latest issue: November 2000. Available on the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au>.
Aspects of Literacy: Assessed Skill Levels, Australia (Cat. no. 4228.0) - issued irregularly, first and latest issue: 1996, released September 1997.
Aspects of Literacy: Profiles and Perceptions, Australia (Cat. no. 4226.0) - issued irregularly, first and latest issue: 1996, released May 1997.
Education and Training in Australia (Cat. no. 4224.0) - issued irregularly, final issue: November 1999.
Education and Training Indicators, Australia (Cat. no. 4230.0) - issued biennially, first issue: 2002, expected to be released November 2002.
Education and Work, Australia (formerly Transition from Education to Work, Australia) (Cat. no. 6227.0) - issued annually, latest issue: May2001, released March 2002.
Employer Training Expenditure, Australia (Cat. no. 6353.0) - issued irregularly, latest issue: July to September 1996, released August 1997.
Employer Training Practices, Australia (Cat. no. 6356.0) - issued irregularly, latest issue: February 1997, released March 1998.
Labour Force, Australia (Cat. no. 6203.0) - issued monthly.
Schools, Australia (Cat. no. 4221.0) - issued annually, latest issue: 2001,released February 2002.

51. Current publications produced by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (Cat. no. 1101. 0). The ABS also issues, on Tuesdays and Fridays, a Release Advice (Cat. no. 1105.0) which lists publications to be released in the next few days. The Catalogue and Release Advice are available on this site or from any ABS office.


ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ABSCQAustralian Bureau of Statistics Classification of Qualifications
ANZSICAustralian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification
ARIAAccessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia
ASCEDAustralian Standard Classification of Education
ASCOAustralian Standard Classification of Occupations
ASGCAustralian Standard Geographical Classification
CDCollection District
CURFConfidentialised Unit Record File
HECSHigher Education Contributions Scheme
n.f.d.not further defined
RARemoteness Area
RSErelative standard error
SETITSurvey of Education, Training and Information Technology
SLAStatistical Local Area
TAFETechnical and Further Education