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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Data sources

Given the importance of education and training in relation to other areas of social concern, education and training data are collected in number of ABS and non-ABS household and administrative collections. The detail of data varies depending on the collection and its purpose. Many ABS household surveys contain questions on level and field of educational attainment (e.g. Health Survey, Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, National Survey of Aborginal and Torres Strait Islander people), and many also contain questions on participation in education (e.g. the Labour Force Survey and many Labour Force Supplementary Surveys). Details on national surveys and collections which include education and training data can be found in the 'Directory of Education and Training Statistics' located on the education and training theme page of the ABS website www.abs.gov.au. The following lists those sources with a particular focus on education and training related issues.


Transition from Education to Work is an annual, household-based ABS survey which provides information on the characteristics of 15-64-year-olds who are currently in the education system, or who were studying in the previous calendar year. The survey gives a broad picture of people both attending and not attending an educational institution - their sociodemographic status, status in the workforce, level of education and the type of work they are now engaged in. It also provides a measure of the number of apprentices in the population. This information has been collected annually since 1983, allowing for a long time series analysis of apprenticeship participation.


The National Schools Statistics Collection is an annual administrative data collection conducted as a collaborative arrangement between State, Territory and Commonwealth education authorities. The collection is managed by the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) Task Force on School Statistics, of which the ABS is a member. The purpose of the collection is to provide data about government and non-government schools in all States and Territories that can be compared on a national level.


The Survey of Education and Training (SET) is currently a four yearly survey, most recently conducted in 1997 and 2001. Prior to the 1997 survey, similar collections were conducted in 1989 (How Workers Get Their Training) and 1993 (Training and Education Experience). These earlier surveys placed greater emphasis on training than on education. The survey provides information on education and training outcomes, with a focus on pathways taken by people in education and training, and on access to education and training. It also provides data on whether a student received any form of Government support and the type of employer support provided (e.g. payment of HECS fees, paid study or training leave, in-house training, etc.).


The Survey of Aspects of Literacy, conducted in 1996, presents a national profile of Australians' literacy skills. There were two components to the survey. The first comprised an interview collecting sociodemographic information and respondents' self-perception of their literacy skills. The second was an objective assessment of some literacy skills using tasks of varying difficulty sourced from real life (e.g. bus timetables). These tasks assessed different aspects of literacy (see details above).


The Training Expenditure Survey, last conducted in 1996, provided estimates of the paid time employees spent receiving structured training (e.g. training activities which have a predetermined plan and format designed to develop work-related skills and competencies). The survey collected information on the direct cost to employers of having employees on training courses and also information on training undertaken outside normal working hours at no expense to the employer. Similar surveys were conducted in 1990 and 1993.


The Training Practices Survey was last conducted in 1997, and collected information on training practices as they applied to the supplying organisation as a whole as opposed to training experienced by individual employees. Reasons for providing training were gathered by employer size, by sector and by industry. A similar survey was conducted in 1994.


The five yearly Census of Population and Housing includes detailed information on education for small geographical areas and population groups with the capacity to cross classify data on education, such as educational attainment, by detailed variables including occupation, industry and income. Education information in the Census includes the educational attainment of all people aged 15 years or more, including the highest level of post-school qualification, the field of study, the year post-school educational qualification was completed and the age left school (prior to 2001; for 2001, highest level of schooling completed). The Census also provides educational participation information for people of all ages (from preschool to higher education) including full-time/part-time status and the type of educational institution attending. The Census is one of the few sources that provides data on the education for all age groups in one data source.


The Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DETYA) maintains a number of collections of education data. They collate administrative data obtained from each higher education institution (the Higher Education Collection). This information is released by DETYA in the form of publications on students, staff and finances and is one of the key sources of information about this sector.


The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) collects administrative data on vocational education institutions. It publishes statistics covering the students, staff and financing of TAFEs and other vocational institutions. It also provides information on apprentices and trainees (or Contracts of Training), conducts Student Outcomes Surveys of VET graduates, and a survey on employment satisfaction for VET students.


The Australian Council for Education Research (ACER), with support from DETYA, conducts the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY). The project studies the progress of several groups of young Australians as they move from school into post-secondary education and/or work. The information collected from the surveys is used to provide a picture of what young Australians are doing and how this group changes as it gets older. The LSAY program accumulates data on cohorts of young Australians as they move through education and training and into the labour market.The first cohort of Year 9 students in the current program for LSAY was selected in 1995. A second cohort of Year 9 students was selected in 1998. Both cohorts are nationally representative samples and are contacted annually to provide information on their education, training and work activities. Earlier programs of longitudinal studies in Australia include: Youth in Transition conducted by ACER; and the Australian Youth Survey (and its predecessor, the Australian Longitudinal Survey) conducted by DETYA.


The Graduate Careers Council of Australia conducts annual surveys of the destinations and starting salaries of higher education graduates. It produces detailed information about both bachelor degree graduates as well as those graduating with a post-graduate diploma, masters, doctorate or other post-graduate qualification. The information available includes employment status, type of work performed, further study undertaken, and earnings of graduates in their first full-time employment.


Private expenditure on education and training is available from the Household Expenditure Survey (HES), and surveys such as the ABS Employee Earnings and Hours survey provide data on the cost of educators' earnings. Data on government expenditure on education is taken from the system of Government Financial Statistics (GFS). Information on expenditure on education is released by the ABS annually in Government Finance Statistics, Education, Australia (Cat. no. 5518.0.48.001). This bulletin indicates the extent and direction of both government and private expenditure in the field of education. Outlays on education by Commonwealth, State and local authorities and Universities are shown classified by economic category. For Commonwealth authorities, details are shown of grants to the States for educational purposes. Total outlays for Commonwealth Government, State, Territory and Local governments are shown by education purpose categories.


Trends in Mathematics and Science Studies (TIMSS), formerly the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, is an international survey of students' mathematics and science achievement in which Australia has participated. Previous small scale mathematics studies were run in 1964 and 1974 and previous science studies were run in 1971 and 1988. TIMSS was run in 1994-95 in Australia by the Australian Council of Education Research on behalf of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. It was repeated in 1998-99 and is scheduled again for 2002-03. There are three components to this survey; the student survey, a teacher survey, and a principal survey.


Each of the State and Territory Education and Training Departments undertake their own separate data collections. The data on Year 3 and Year 5 literacy results collected by each State and Territory Education Department have been brought together by identifying the proportion of students in each State and Territory to reach the national literacy benchmarks. The proportion reaching the national literacy benchmarks have been separately identified for male and female students, Indigenous students and those students with a language background other than English. State and Territory Boards of Studies collect data on subjects being studied by students in upper secondary school and the achievement of students in the final year of schooling, however currently the data is not nationally comparable given the differences between the collections. At present, there are attempts to improve the comparability between these collections.


Many ABS surveys contain education and training data, including the Child Care Survey which collects information on children who attend preschool. Other non-ABS collections containing education and training data include the National Indigenous Preschool Census, commissioned by DETYA to collect the demographics of Indigenous preschool students from recognised preschools; the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Australia run by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs which identifies the qualifications and education and training experience of immigrants to Australia; and the Overseas Student Statistics collected by Australian Education International which provides details on overseas studying in Australian education institutions or in off-shore campuses of Australian universities.

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