6102.0.55.001 - Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, Feb 2018  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/02/2018   
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This document was added or updated on 26/05/2020.



The Qualifications and Work (Q&W) survey collects information about the educational history of persons and the relevance of each qualification to their working lives. Data collected includes the level and field of each qualification, year of completion, and whether the qualification was attained in Australia. Further information is collected on incomplete qualifications, cultural background and citizenship status. This information, cross referenced with the Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS) core modules of demographic characteristics, labour force participation and income, provides an in-depth understanding of the impact of non-school qualifications on working life.

The Q&W is a MPHS survey. The MPHS is conducted each month throughout Australia as a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). This section describes only those aspects of the methodology that were unique to this survey topic and should therefore be read in conjunction with the overview part of this section (Multipurpose Household Survey), which outlines the survey methodology used in the MPHS.


The sample is accumulated over a 12 month period.

Data from the survey are published in Qualifications and Work, Australia (cat. no. 4235.0). More detailed data may be available on request. In addition to the data available in the Excel spreadsheets, other tables are able to be produced using Table Builder. Table Builder is an online tool for creating tables and graphs from survey data. For further information on Table Builder, see Microdata: Qualifications and Work (cat. no 4235.0.55.001).

The populations of interest are all persons who: are aged 15 years and over; are currently employed or unemployed; speak a language other than English at home; receive a government pension or allowance; completed a non-school qualification; were not born in Australia and who have completed a non-school qualification; completed a non-school qualification and are currently employed; completed a non-school qualification and are currently employed and not working in main field of study; completed a non-school qualification and are currently employed and not working in main field of study, and main field of study is not relevant. Estimates are produced on an original basis only (i.e. are not seasonally adjusted), and include:

Socio-demographic information

Sex; age; marital status; state or territory of usual residence (including whether in a capital city); family relationship; household composition; whether born in Australia; country of birth (broad geographic area); year of arrival in Australia; Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage/Disadvantage; and remoteness areas.

Labour force

Labour force status; status in employment; full-time or part-time status; occupation; industry; hours usually worked; looked for full-time or part-time work; and duration of unemployment in weeks.

Cultural background

Whether an Australian citizen; language first spoken; all languages spoken at home; main language spoken at home; proficiency in spoken English; born overseas and arrived aged 15 years and over; and time since arrival in Australia.


Equivalised weekly household income; total gross weekly household income from all sources; weekly personal income from all sources; all sources of personal income; main source of personal income; and personal types of government pensions/allowances received.


Year started non-school qualification; year completed non-school qualification; highest year of school completed; age and whether attending an educational institution; number of qualifications; whether completed qualification in Australia; level and main field of highest educational attainment; level of non-school qualification; field of non-school qualification; level and main field of highest non-school qualification; level of second highest non-school qualification; main field of second highest non-school qualification; level of third highest non-school qualification; main field of third highest non-school qualification; level of most recent non-school qualification; level of first non-school qualification; level and main field of highest non-school qualification gained before arrival in Australia; and level and main field of highest non-school qualification gained after arrival in Australia.


Level and main field of qualification most relevant to current job; whether currently working in the same field as main field of study; whether main field of study is relevant to current job if not working in field; and all reasons why main field of study is not relevant to current job.


Impact and main impact of qualification on work life in the first 6 months after completing qualification.

Qualification flags

Highest qualification flag; most recent qualification flag; first qualification flag; and highest qualification flag for migrants before and after arrival.

The main points of interest are qualifications and the labour market; impact of qualification; relevance of qualification; and migrants.


The scope of the LFS is restricted to persons aged 15 years and over and excludes the following population groups:

  • members of the permanent defence forces;
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from census and estimated resident populations;
  • overseas residents in Australia; and
  • members of non–Australian defence forces (and their dependants).

In addition, the MPHS excludes the following from its scope:
  • persons living in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; and
  • persons living in non–private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, students at boarding schools, patients in hospitals, residents of homes, (e.g. retirement homes, homes for persons with disabilities, women's shelters), and inmates of prisons.


The Survey of Education and Work (SEW) has similarities with Q&W. Conducted annually, SEW provides a range of indicators about educational participation and attainment, and data on a person's transition between education and work. SEW is based on a household interview with any responsible adult who responds on behalf of all persons aged 15–74 years in the household, whereas Q&W is conducted as a personal interview with one randomly selected person, aged 15 years or over, in the household. As such, the Q&W survey has a smaller sample size of around 27, 000 completed interviews, whereas SEW has close to 40, 000 completed interviews.


In order to provide a high degree of consistency and comparability over time, changes to survey methods, survey concepts, data item definitions, frequency of collection, and analysis methods are made as infrequently as possible. Over the time the survey has been conducted, there have been some changes to the scope and sample size. These changes mean that the standard errors for the survey differ over time. The effect on estimates of the change in scope is considered to have been small. Changes affecting the LFS may also affect this survey.

  • Initial survey conducted as Learning and Work.
  • Other MPHS topics were crime victimisation; learning and work history; cultural participation; household use of information technology; patient experience; barriers and incentives to labour force participation; and retirement and retirement intentions.
  • The MPHS was conducted each month throughout Australia from July to June.

  • For 2015, Q&W was enumerated from January to December 2015, and spanned both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 MPHS cycles.
  • The title was changed from Learning and Work to Qualification and Work for this iteration to better reflect the information collected. The collection focused on study of 'Qualifications', whereas 'Learning' is an umbrella term that includes formal, (study towards a qualification), non-formal (structured study that does not result in a qualification) and informal (non-structured, self-paced) study.
  • The survey was run on the full MPHS sample, resulting in approximately twice the sample from 2010-11. In general, increasing the sample size will reduce the sample error, allowing for more detailed data analysis.
  • In 2011-12, persons who live in very remote areas that are not part of the Indigenous communities were interviewed for the first time for MPHS. As such, these people are included in 2015 Q&W estimates but excluded from the 2010-11 estimates. Approximately 0.4% of persons in scope for Q&W in 2015 lived in very remote areas that are not part of an Indigenous community. The inclusion of this population had minimal impact on Australia or state and territory estimates - including Northern Territory, where it is estimated that most people living in very remote areas live in Indigenous communities, and were therefore out of scope in both 2010-11 and 2015.