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Formal educational qualifications are the desired outcome of most study at educational institutions. When issued by an accredited authority they denote a particular level of knowledge, skills and perhaps competencies. This assists the graduates themselves when entering the labour market, employers in selecting appropriate personnel, and clients in assessing the quality of professional services. The classification of educational attainment to level assists in measuring the stocks of available skills in a community, enabling policy makers to monitor the volume of skill levels compared to skill shortages, and to influence the direction of future educational focus.
Graph 10.35 shows the proportion of males and females aged 15-64 and their level of highest non-school qualification at May 1992, 1997, and 2002. During this period the proportion of males with a Bachelor degree or higher has increased by 6.0 percentage points, and the proportion of females increased by 10.3 percentage points. In 1992 there was a greater percentage of males (11%) with a Bachelor degree or higher than females (8.2%). Parity was achieved in 1997 (13.6% of males, 13.5% of females). In 2002 the data shows 18.5% of females having a Bachelor degree or higher, compared to 17.0% of males.
Tables 10.36 and 10.37 examine the highest non-school qualification held by persons aged 15-64 years. Overall, 48% of persons aged 15-64 years held a non-school qualification. Some 15% had a Certificate III or IV as their highest non-school qualification, compared to 13% with a Bachelor degree. The most qualified age group was those aged 25-44 years, 58% of whom held non-school qualifications, as did 50% of those aged 45-64 years. While the younger age groups held fewer non-school qualifications, their participation in education is high (graph 10.30 and table 10.31).
In the 25-44 age group there were approximately 1.3 million persons (23% of all 25-44 year olds) whose highest non-school qualification was a Bachelor degree or above (table 10.36). This compares with 760,000 (17%) in the 45-64 age group. In the 25-44 age group 994,800 persons (17%) had a level of highest non-school qualification of Certificate III or IV, compared to 708,600 persons (16%) in the age group 45-64.
Among those without a non-school qualification, 33% had completed Year 12, while for 31%, their highest year of school completed was Year 10 (table 10.34).
Among those aged 15-64 years with a non-school qualification, the two most common main fields of education for the highest non-school qualification held were Management and commerce (1.4 million persons, 23% of those with qualifications), and Engineering and related technologies (1.3 million persons, 21%) (table 10.37). The largest qualification pools within the 25-44 year age group were Management and commerce, followed by Engineering and related technologies (786,900 and 672,700 persons). For those aged 45-64 years, these two fields of education had their rankings reversed: Engineering and related technologies was followed by Management and commerce (538,600 and 444,000 persons).
Among persons aged 15-19 and 20-24 years the patterns were somewhat different. Of the few 15-19 year olds who already had a qualification, Food, hospitality, and personal services was second to Management and commerce (22.7% and 25.9%, respectively, table 10.37).