6227.0 - Education and Work, Australia, May 2013 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/11/2013   
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1 This publication contains results from the 2013 Survey of Education and Work (SEW) conducted throughout Australia in May 2013 as a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). Respondents to the LFS who were in scope of the supplementary survey were asked further questions about education.

2 The SEW provides annual information on a range of key indicators of educational participation and attainment of persons aged 15-74 years, along with data on people's transition between education and work. The annual time series allows for ongoing monitoring of the level of education of Australia's population including participation in current and previous study; type of educational institution attended; highest year of school completed; level and field of highest non-school qualification; characteristics of people's transition between education and work; and selected characteristics of apprentices and trainees.

3 The publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about survey design, sample redesign, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the monthly LFS, which also apply to supplementary surveys. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics.


4 The conceptual framework used in Australia's LFS aligns closely with the standards and guidelines set out in Resolutions of the International Conference of Labour Statisticians. Descriptions of the underlying concepts and structure of Australia's labour force statistics, and the sources and methods used in compiling these estimates, are presented in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2013 (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001) which is available on the ABS website.



5 The scope of the SEW is restricted to persons aged 15-74 years who were usual residents of private dwellings and non-institutionalised special dwellings excluding:

  • members of the permanent defence forces;
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from the Census of Population and Housing and estimated resident populations;
  • overseas residents in Australia;
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants);
  • institutionalised persons (e.g. patients in hospitals, residents of retirement homes, residents of homes for persons with disabilities, inmates of prisons); and
  • boarding school pupils.
6 Boarding school pupils have been excluded from the scope of the SEW since 2005, but were included in earlier collections. The LFS in May 2013 yielded an estimate of 16,700 boarding school pupils aged 15 years and over, who were excluded from the SEW.

7 In 2013, the scope of SEW was extended to include all persons aged 65-74 years for the first time. This comprised including those people in this age group who were not in the labour force or not marginally attached to the labour force who had previously been excluded from the sample. In addition, persons who are permanently unable to work were also included in the scope of SEW for the first time. There were an estimated 409,700 people who reported being permanently unable to work in May 2013.

8 In 2009, persons aged 65-74 years who were in the labour force, or were marginally attached to the labour force, were interviewed for the first time for SEW. Persons were determined to be marginally attached to the labour force if they were not in the labour force in the reference week, wanted to work and:
  • were actively looking for work but did not meet the availability criteria to be classified as unemployed; or
  • were not actively looking for work but were available to start work within four weeks or could start work within four weeks.

9 This supplementary survey was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded people living in Indigenous communities in very remote parts of Australia. The exclusion of people living in these areas is unlikely to impact on state and territory estimates, except in the Northern Territory where they account for approximately 15% of the total population aged 15–74 years.


10 The estimates in this publication relate to persons covered by the survey scope. In the LFS, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling and hence has only one chance of selection in the survey. See Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for more details.

11 Every five years, following the availability of data from the Census of Population and Housing, the ABS reviews the LFS sample design to ensure that the sample continues to represent the Australian population accurately. The latest review, based on 2011 Census data, has been completed with the new LFS sample phased-in over the four months from May to August 2013. Introducing two rotation groups from the new sample per month, i.e. one-quarter of the survey sample, reduces the proportion of common selections each month over the period between May and August 2013 when compared to previous phase-in implementations over eight months or one rotation group each month. While this has an impact on standard errors for month-to-month movement estimates of the labour force, there is minimal impact on the quality of level estimates for a point in time survey such as SEW. This sample for the SEW 2013 comprised of two rotation groups based on the new 2011 Census based sample and five rotation groups based on the 2006 Census based sample. Overall, the 2011 sample design generally maintains standard errors at the levels targeted under the 2006 sample design. For more information see Information Paper: Labour Force Survey Sample Design, May 2013 (cat. no. 6269.0).


12 Approximately 94% of the selected households were fully responding to the SEW, which resulted in around 43,600 completed interviews. The 2013 sample size was approximately 10% larger than the 2012 sample due to the larger in-scope population.


13 Information was collected from respondents over a two week period in May 2013. The data were mainly collected through interviews, conducted either face-to-face or over the telephone, while some respondents were able to provide their information over the Internet via a self-completed form.

14 In December 2012, the ABS began a trial of online self-completion for a small proportion of households in the Labour Force Survey. The trial was conducted on one rotation group (i.e. one-eighth of the survey sample) where all households were offered the option of completing the survey online in place of a face-to-face or telephone interview. The offer of online self-completion was extended from May 2013 with the offer coinciding with the phase-in of the new LFS sample, i.e. for May 2013 the option of online completion was offered to households in a further two rotation groups. However, for these new rotation groups the offer was restricted to 50% of households in each group. The extension of the offer in May was in addition to the initial rotation group that began in December of 2012, resulting in the option of self-completion for the LFS being offered to the equivalent of one-quarter of the survey sample.

15 The May 2013 SEW was the first supplementary survey to incorporate this online data collection method. As supplementary surveys such as the SEW are restricted to seven-eighths of the LFS sample, the option of self-completion was offered to just over one-quarter of the sample available for SEW. Respondents who took up the online option represented 4.4% of the total SEW sample. While those respondents who chose to complete the survey online may have different characteristics to those who undertake the survey via face-to-face or telephone interview, the ABS has not detected any significant impacts due to the introduction of online collection. However, the ABS will continue to monitor any impacts through a measurement strategy and report these in the Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). For further information see the article Transition to Online Collection of the Labour Force Survey.

16 All information, either from interview or online self-completion, was obtained from any responsible adult in the household who was asked to respond on behalf of all persons in the household in scope of the survey. All interviews were conducted using computer assisted interviewing (CAI).



17 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 enumerated person. The weight is a value which indicates how many persons in the population are represented by the sample person.

18 The first step in calculating weights for each unit is to assign an initial weight, which is the inverse of the probability of the unit being selected in the survey. For example, if the probability of a person being selected in the survey was 1 in 300, then the person would have an initial weight of 300 (that is, they represent 300 people).

Population benchmarks

19 The initial weights are then calibrated to align with independent estimates of the population, referred to as benchmarks. The population included in the benchmarks is the survey scope. This calibration process ensures that the weighted data conform to the independently estimated distribution of the population described by the benchmarks rather than to the distribution within the sample itself. Calibration to population benchmarks helps to compensate for over or under-enumeration of particular categories of persons which may occur due to either the random nature of sampling or non-response.

20 The survey was benchmarked to the estimated resident population (ERP) aged 15-74 years living in private dwellings and non-institutionalised special dwellings in each state and territory. People living in Indigenous communities in very remote parts of Australia were excluded.


21 Survey estimates of counts of persons are obtained by summing the weights of persons with the characteristics of interest.


22 All sample surveys are subject to error which can be broadly categorised as either:
  • sampling error; or
  • non-sampling error.

23 Sampling error is the difference between the published estimates, derived from a sample of persons, and the value that would have been produced if the total population (as defined by the scope of the survey) had been included in the survey. For more information refer to the Technical Note.

24 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 answers by interviewers, and errors in coding and processing data. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error by careful design and testing of the questionnaire, training and supervision of interviewers, follow-up of respondents, and extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing.

Seasonal factors

25 The estimates are based on information collected in the survey month, and due to seasonal factors they may not be representative of other months of the year.


Interpretation of results

26 The method of obtaining information about all the persons in the household from any responsible adult is only used for collecting information on topics where other members of the household are likely to be able to answer the questions. If the ARA is unable to supply all of the details for another individual in the household, a personal interview is conducted with that particular individual.


Comparability of time series

27 Supplementary surveys are not always conducted on the full LFS sample. Since August 1994 the sample for supplementary surveys has been restricted to no more than seven-eighths of the LFS sample. Since it was introduced, this survey has been conducted on various proportional samples and therefore sampling errors associated with previous supplementary surveys may vary from the sampling error for this survey.

28 Since 2005, boarding school pupils have been excluded from the scope of the SEW, but were included in earlier collections. For more details, see the Scope section of these Explanatory Notes.

29 Since 2007, industry data in the SEW have been classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0) and prior to this, were classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 1993 (cat. no. 1292.0). Therefore, industry data from SEW prior to 2007 are not directly comparable to data for 2007 and subsequent years.

30 Since 2007, occupation data in the SEW have been classified according to the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classifications of Occupations, First Edition (cat. no. 1220.0) and prior to this, were classified according to the Australia Standard Classifications of Occupations, Second Edition, 1997 (cat. no. 1220.0). Occupation data are not directly comparable between these two editions of the classification. Therefore, occupation data from SEW prior to 2007 are not directly comparable to 2007 and subsequent years.

31 Prior to 2008, only persons aged 15-54 years were included in the apprenticeship/traineeship survey questions. In 2008, the age scope was extended to include persons aged 55-64 years and in 2009, the scope was further extended to include persons aged 65-74 years for these questions. In 2008, the definition for apprentices and trainees changed from those employed as apprentices/trainees to include only those with a formal contract under the Australian Apprenticeship Scheme. Therefore data on apprentices from previous years are not directly comparable to 2008 and subsequent data. Note that Australian School-based Apprenticeships are excluded.

32 Revisions are made to population benchmarks for the LFS after each five-yearly Census of Population and Housing. The last such revision was made in February 2009 to take account of the results of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. Estimates from supplementary surveys conducted from and including 2009 are therefore based on these 2006 population benchmarks.

33 Revisions have been made to the 2010 data presented in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Survey of Education and Work (SEW) releases. Estimates for 2010 have been compiled using population benchmarks that incorporate revisions made to Net Overseas Migration estimates, published in the September 2008 and September 2009 issues of Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0). The revisions also include a correction to the population benchmarks for the 2010 SEW to align them with the survey scope for the Northern Territory (NT) in relation to Indigenous communities in very remote areas. The impact on the Australian estimates for SEW 2010 is minimal, with the change mainly affecting the Northern Territory. While the change results in a reduction in the size of the Northern Territory population estimate, it has a minor impact only on the distribution of characteristics.

34 Revisions were made to the in-scope population in 2013. All respondents aged 65-74 years were included for the first time, rather than just those in the labour force or marginally attached to the labour force. Persons who were permanently unable to work were also included.

Comparability with other ABS surveys

35 Since the SEW is conducted as a supplement to the LFS, data items collected in the LFS are also available in SEW. However, there are some important differences between the two surveys. The SEW sample is a subset of the LFS sample (see the Introduction of these Explanatory Notes) and the SEW had a response rate of 94% which is lower than the LFS response rate of 95% for the same period. Also the scope of the SEW differs slightly to the scope of the LFS (refer to the Scope section above). Due to these differences between the samples, the SEW data are weighted as a separate process to the weighting of LFS data. Differences may therefore be found in the estimates collected in the LFS and published as part of the SEW, when compared with estimates published in the May 2013 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).

36 Additionally, estimates from the SEW may differ from the estimates produced from other ABS collections, for several reasons. The SEW is a sample survey and its results are subject to sampling error. Results may differ from other sample surveys, which are also subject to sampling error. Users should take account of the relative standard errors (RSEs) on estimates and those of other survey estimates where comparisons are made.

37 Differences may also exist in the scope and/or coverage of the SEW compared to other surveys. Differences in estimates, when compared to the estimates of other surveys, may result from different reference periods reflecting seasonal variations, non-seasonal events that may have impacted on one period but not another, or because of underlying trends in the phenomena being measured.

38 Finally, differences can occur as a result of using different collection methodologies. This is often evident in comparisons of similar data items reported from different ABS collections where, after taking account of definition and scope differences and sampling error, residual differences remain. These differences are often the result of the mode of the collections, such as whether data are collected by an interviewer or self-enumerated by the respondent and whether the data are collected from the person themselves or from a proxy respondent. Differences may also result from the context in which questions are asked, i.e. where in the interview the questions are asked and the nature of preceding questions. The impacts on data of different collection methodologies are difficult to quantify. As a result, every effort is made to minimise such differences.


Country of birth

39 Country of birth data are classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), Second Edition, 2008 (cat. no. 1269.0).


40 Industry data are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), Revision 1 (cat. no. 1292.0).


41 Occupation data are classified according to the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classifications of Occupations (ANZSCO), First Edition, Revision 1 (cat. no. 1220.0).


42 Education data are coded to the Australian Standard Classification of Education, 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0). The ASCED is a national standard classification which can be applied to all sectors of the Australian education system including schools, vocational education and training and higher education. The ASCED comprises two classifications: Level of Education and Field of Education.

43 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 levels see the Australian Standard Classification of Education, 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

44 Field of Education 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 fields see the Australian Standard Classification of Education, 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

Level of highest educational attainment

45 Level of highest educational attainment was 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 highest. Usually the higher ranking attainment is 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.

46 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) is regarded as the highest. It is emphasised that this table was designed for the purpose of obtaining a single value for level of highest educational attainment and is not intended to convey any other ordinality.

Diagram: Highest attainment decision table

47 The decision table is also 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 the same person answered 'certificate' to the highest non-school qualification question, without 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. For more details, see Education Variables, 2002 (cat. no. 1246.0).

Level of education of current study

48 Persons who are identified in the Labour Force Survey as currently studying a school level qualification are not asked in SEW if they are currently studying for any non-school qualifications. Therefore, if the respondent was still attending school, their level of study was recorded as their current year of schooling. If the respondent had left school and was enrolled in formal study they were asked the level of the qualification.


49 A Data Cube (spreadsheet) containing all tables produced for this publication is available from the Downloads tab of the publication. The Data Cubes present tables of estimates and proportions, and their corresponding Relative Standard Errors (RSEs).

50 An expanded range of statistics from the Survey are available in the publication Education and Work, Australia - Additional data cubes, May 2013 (cat. no. 6227.0.55.003).

51 For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the data, the survey microdata will be released through the TableBuilder product. For more details, refer to the TableBuilder information, Microdata: Education and Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0.30.001).

52 A Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) has been released biennially from 2001 to 2011. A CURF will not be produced for the SEW 2013 data. For the 2013 survey, detailed analysis of microdata is expected to be available through a new online tool called DataAnalyser. Users will be able to undertake regression analysis, create new variables, produce confidentialised summary tables and scatterplots and use in-depth analysis techniques. The DataAnalyser products for the SEW13 is expected to be available in late 2014. For further details refer to the Microdata Entry Page.

53 Special tabulations are available on request. 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 or electronic form. All enquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.


54 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


55 Results of similar surveys have been published in previous issues. These surveys were conducted annually from February 1964 to February 1974, in May 1975 and 1976, in August 1977 and 1978, and annually in May since 1979. Results of previous surveys were published in Transition from Education to Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0) from 1964 to 2000. Since May 2001, the results of the survey have been published in Education and Work, Australia (cat. no. 6227.0).


56 Information on Citizenship status and Visa type has been added to Table 1 and Table 9. The population of Table 15 has changed from persons aged 65-74 years who are in the labour force or marginally attached to the labour force to all persons aged 65-74 years.

57 The terminology 'study for a qualification' has changed to 'formal study'.


58 The ABS intends to conduct this survey again in May 2014.


59 Refer to the Related Information tab for other ABS publications which may be of interest.

60 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily upcoming release advice on the website that details products to be released in the week ahead. The Education and Training Topics @ a Glance page also contains a range of information and useful resources regarding education statistics.