4160.0 - Measuring Wellbeing: Frameworks for Australian Social Statistics, 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/10/2001   
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How do education and training relate to individual wellbeing?

Education and training are important means by which individuals can realise their full potential and make positive choices about their wellbeing. Education and training are often essential to gaining paid employment, and can provide the pathway to a rewarding career. Ultimately, education and training support full participation in social, cultural and economic life.

How do they relate to the wellbeing of society?

Education and training support the population's ability to produce goods and services and to be innovative and responsive to change, and are thus central to economic development. They are the basis for building positive social values that underlie social cohesion, and can assist in reducing problems such as unemployment, poor health or crime.

What are some key social issues?
  • Monitoring and improving educational attainment levels for target groups.
  • Promoting both equal access to education and equity in educational outcomes.
  • Achieving sufficient levels of literacy to empower individuals in their daily lives.
  • Ensuring educational resources are sufficient and appropriately distributed.
  • Ensuring there is an adequate supply of teachers to meet the needs of students.
  • Ensuring people leaving education are equipped to meet expectations of industry and the labour market, and have the necessary vocational and generalist skills.
  • Facilitating lifelong learning.

What are the key definitional challenges?

Education and/or training can be broadly defined as activities facilitating the lifetime process of obtaining knowledge, attitudes, skills, and socially valued qualities of character and behaviour. In recent years there have been marked shifts throughout the education and training sectors that have changed the way in which some core educational concepts and institutions are defined. There is a blurring of the distinction between the concepts of education and training, between education sector boundaries, and between accredited and non-accredited education. In addition, the frequent need for re-skilling of the work force means education and training may be undertaken at any stage in the life cycle.

What are the main measurement issues?
  • Formal education has traditionally taken place within three major sectors (e.g. schools, vocational education and training, and higher education). Available data is often confined to these sectors, despite the boundaries having become less distinct.
  • Training that takes place in the workplace, or in relation to work, can be difficult to measure due to variation in the method and level of training provided by different organisations and employers. On-the-job training in particular is difficult to measure.
  • Variability in the type and form of early childhood education offered in the community means this is also a difficult aspect of education to measure.
  • What is considered an adequate level of literacy depends on an individual's social and work context, and respondents can also be sensitive about their literacy capability.

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