EXPANDED EDUCATION DATA FROM THE LABOUR FORCE SURVEY
There are strong links between educational attainment and labour market outcomes, which provide important context in the understanding of productivity, the quality of labour inputs and labour market dynamics.
Since July 2014, data on the level of highest educational attainment and whether respondents are currently studying full-time or part-time have been collected from the Labour Force Survey (LFS).
Level of highest educational attainment identifies the highest achievement a person has attained in any area of study. It is not a measure of the relative importance of different fields of study but instead a ranking of qualifications and other educational attainments (regardless of the particular area of study or the type of institution in which the study was undertaken). For more information regarding how the level of highest educational attainment is derived see Decision Table: Level of highest educational attainment. It is categorised according to the Level of education classification, within the Australian Standard Classification of Education, 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).
This information is collected from respondents in their first month of participation in the LFS, and with the exception of those studying for a higher educational qualification, is 'rolled forward' for the subsequent seven months that the respondent remains in the survey. This approach is used as there is generally very little monthly change in educational attendance and attainment for most of the population. For people studying for a higher educational qualification, information is sought each month on whether they have completed their study and achieved a higher level of educational attainment. All persons aged over 15 who had left school are asked if they were a full-time or part-time student at a TAFE, university or other educational institution. Previously, educational attendance information was limited to identifying 15-24 year olds studying full-time, as this information was used to determine if they could be classified as a dependent student in a family household.
Using this method, data are collected as a monthly time series, but since the month-to-month movements are mainly driven by the comparatively small changes between the incoming and outgoing sample, the estimates will be published as a quarterly time series. This series will begin at August 2015, as the data collected in the initial period, between July 2014 and July 2015, could not be satisfactorily rolled forward for all respondents, due to initial system limitations. By August 2015, this capability had been fully implemented, with all data effectively rolled forward as required.
Prior to 2014, educational attainment information was only available from selected labour supplementary surveys and the Multi-Purpose Household Survey. While the Survey of Education and Work (SEW, cat. no. 6227.0) provides a comprehensive source of educational attainment information cross-classified with key labour force indicators, it is only conducted annually and does not include other important labour market and employment-related characteristics. The requirement for a richer array of data with key measures released more frequently was identified in the Outcomes of the Labour Household Surveys Content Review (cat. no. 6107.0).
Statistics on educational attainment and attendance are now generated based on the full LFS scope and sample. As a result, the LFS estimates and those from supplementary surveys differ due to the fact that supplementary surveys are not conducted on the full LFS scope and sample (presently they are run on at most seven eighths of the sample). This will lead to some minor differences between LFS estimates and those from supplementary surveys. Also, estimates from the LFS are periodically revised to reflect the latest population benchmarks, whereas time series data from supplementary surveys have not normally been revised.
The new education data are available from the August 2016 issue of Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003) in tables 24a, 24b, 25a, 25b and pivot tables LQ1 and LQ2.
Furthermore, pivot table LM3 will be introduced in the August 2016 issue of the monthly Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001). This will be the intended replacement of the existing SuperTable LM3. In it, the item 'Year left school' will be replaced with 'Highest year of school completed.' Both versions of the LM3 datacube will continue to be published together for at least another 12 months as the ABS prepares to phase out SuperTable outputs.
Comparisons of the new LFS data and historical SEW data are presented in the graphs below.