4234.0 - Work-Related Training and Adult Learning, Australia, Apr 2013 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/12/2013  First Issue
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1 This publication contains results from the 2013 Survey of Work-Related Training and Adult Learning (WRTAL), conducted throughout Australia in April 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 their participation in training and learning activities.

2 WRTAL provides data about the level of participation of Australia's population in formal and non-formal learning, with a particular focus on work-related training and personal interest learning. Along with general demographic and employment characteristics of people who undertake training, information available from the survey includes participation rates in non-formal learning, the reasons for participation, the time spent and personal costs incurred. Also collected are data on the barriers that prevent some people from undertaking training.

3 The WRTAL survey was conducted for the first time in April 2013 and is to be collected every four years, with the next iteration planned for January 2017. Similar data was collected previously in the Survey of Education and Training (SET) however, due to the different collection methodologies, the data cannot be directly compared. Further details about these differences are outlined below in the Data Comparability section.

4 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.

Concepts, Sources and Methods

5 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, April 2007 (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001).



6 The scope of WRTAL is restricted to persons aged 15-74 years who were usual residents of private 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).

7 In addition, this supplementary survey excluded persons living in Indigenous communities and in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, boarding schools, hospitals, retirement homes, homes for people with disabilities, and prisons.


8 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.


9 Information was mainly collected through interviews conducted over a two week period in April 2013. Interviews were conducted either face-to-face or over the telephone. In the selected dwellings, after the LFS had been fully completed for each person in scope, a usual resident aged 15-74 years was selected at random (based on a computer algorithm) to complete WRTAL. If the randomly selected person was aged 15-17 years, permission was sought from a parent or guardian before conducting the interview. If permission was not given, the parent or guardian was asked the questions on behalf of the 15-17 year old (a proxy interview).

10 All interviews were conducted using computer assisted interviewing (CAI).

11 In December 2012, the ABS began a trial of online electronic data collection. Respondents in one rotation group (i.e. one-eighth of the LFS sample) were offered the option of self completing their labour force survey questionnaire over the Internet instead of via a face-to-face or telephone interview. Those households who took up this offer and completed the LFS online were not required to answer the WRTAL survey, which resulted in a small decrease in the sample size for WRTAL of around 3% had these people been included. Analysis showed that the exclusion of these respondents had no significant impact on the quality of the estimates.

12 All respondents who reported being permanently unable to work and those aged 65-74 years who were permanently not intending to work, were not asked questions about participation in work-related training. These people were all classified as having not participated. There were approximately 1.4 million people that made up these two groups, comprising around 330,000 people who are permanently unable to work and 1.1 million people aged 65-74 years who were permanently not intending to work. Note that information regarding participation in personal interest learning and formal learning were collected for these respondents.

13 ABS supplementary surveys such as WRTAL are restricted to no more than seven eighths of the LFS sample. Approximately 95% of the selected households were fully responding to the WRTAL survey, which resulted in around 20,000 completed interviews.



14 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.

15 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

16 The initial weights are 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.

17 The survey was benchmarked to the estimated population aged 15-74 years living in each state and territory, excluding people living in non-private dwellings and Indigenous communities. The benchmarks, and hence the estimates from the survey, do not (and are not intended to) match estimates of the total Australian resident population (which includes persons living in Indigenous communities and in non-private dwellings) obtained from other sources.


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


19 All sample surveys are subject to error which can be broadly categorised as either sampling error or non-sampling error.

20 Sampling error is the difference between the published estimates, derived from a sample of persons, and the value that would have been produced if all persons in scope of the survey had been included. For more information refer to the Technical Note.

21 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

22 Most of the WRTAL estimates in this publication relate to participation in training and learning activities undertaken in the 12 months prior to April 2013. This limits the effect of seasonal factors. However, some data relate to the most recent training course, and hence may not be representative of other months of the year.


23 Information recorded in this survey is essentially ‘as reported’ by respondents and hence may differ from that which might be obtained from other sources or via other methodologies. In addition, the labour force characteristics collected in the survey, such as employment status, industry and occupation, relate to the week before the survey interview and therefore may not reflect the respondent's actual labour force status at the time they participated in the training. This factor should be considered when interpreting some of the estimates in this publication. However, most tables with labour force characteristics, have been restricted to those employed persons who undertook their training as part of their current main job.


Comparability with other ABS surveys

24 Since WRTAL is conducted as a supplement to the LFS, data items collected in the LFS are also available in WRTAL. However, there are some important differences between the two surveys. The WRTAL sample is a subset of the LFS sample (refer to the Data Collection section above) and had a response rate of 95% compared with a response rate of 96% for the LFS. Also, the scope of WRTAL differs from the scope of the LFS (refer to the Scope and Coverage section above). Due to these differences between the samples, WRTAL data are weighted as a separate process to the weighting of LFS data. Differences may therefore be found in the estimates for those data items collected in the LFS and published as part of WRTAL when compared with the same data items published in the April 2013 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0).

25 Additionally, estimates from WRTAL may differ from the estimates for the same or similar data items produced from other ABS collections for several reasons. For example, all sample surveys are subject to different sampling errors so users should take account of the relative standard errors (RSEs) on estimates where comparisons are made. Differences may also exist in scope and/or coverage, 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.

Comparability with Survey of Education and Training

26 Differences can occur as a result of using different collection methodologies. For example, although many of the data items included in WRTAL are similar to those collected in the 2009 Survey of Education and Training (SET), (please refer to Education and Training Experience, 2009 (cat. no. 6278.0), results from the two surveys are not directly comparable. There are a number of differences in the collection methodology which impact on the final participation rates. These changes include mode effect, context effect, question wording and changes to the in scope population.

27 Mode effect refers to the impact of the survey delivery method on the responses to the survey. The 2009 SET was collected as a face-to-face interview with each person in the selected households. In particular, respondents were provided with prompt cards enabling them to read, and then select, the response categories for various questions. On the other hand, WRTAL was collected predominantly as a telephone interview with one randomly selected person in each household meaning prompt cards were not provided. Where face-to-face interviews were conducted, prompt cards were also not used.

28 Context effects occur when the preceding questions influence responses to subsequent questions or when the order in which the questions are asked affects the correlation between the target and the context questions. The WRTAL survey focused on work-related training and therefore the majority of questions were framed around participation in this form of learning. SET was a large survey which focused mainly on participation in formal learning, with the questions about non-formal learning following the modules about formal learning. It is possible that the context effects may contribute to the differences in reporting of participation in work-related training.

29 Due to the change in mode of collection between SET and WRTAL it was necessary for a number of the questions to be redesigned. In particular, questions about participation in work-related training were asked directly in WRTAL, whereas in SET, participation in work-related training was derived from particular responses to questions relating to the reasons for undertaking all non-formal training.

30 The in scope population for WRTAL and SET were slightly different which may have contribute to differences in estimated participation rates for learning activities. While the in-scope population for WRTAL included all people aged 15-74 years, the in-scope population for SET was people aged 15-64 years and people aged 65-74 years who were in or marginally attached to the labour force.

31 Finally, due to the limited time available for supplementary surveys compared to Special Social Surveys, WRTAL only collected information about the most recent work-related training and personal interest learning course for each respondent. SET, however, collected information on up to four most recent courses (either work-related training or personal interest learning) for each person in the household. This allowed for additional data to be presented in the SET publication at the specific course level that is not available in the WRTAL publication.


Country of birth

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


33 Industry data are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (Revision 1.0) (cat. no. 1292.0).


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


35 Education data are classified according to the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 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.

36 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 (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

37 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 (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

Socio-economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)

38 Socio-economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) is a suite of four summary measures that have been created from 2011 Census information. Each index summarises a different aspect of the socio-economic conditions of people living in an area. The indexes provide more general measures of socio-economic status than is given by measures such as income or unemployment alone.

39 Each index ranks geographic areas across Australia in terms of their relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage. The four indexes each summarise a slightly different aspect of the socio-economic conditions in an area. It is important to note that the indexes are assigned to areas and not to individuals. They indicate the collective socio-economic characteristics of the people living in an area. The respondents in the WRTAL survey have been assigned the 2011 Census SEIFA for the area in which they live. Consequently, they may not necessarily have the same personal characteristics that describes the socio-economic status of their geographic area as a whole.

40 The index used in the Work-Related Training and Adult Learning publication is the Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSD), derived from Census variables such as income, educational attainment, employment/unemployment, occupation and some housing variables. The index ranks areas on a continuum from most disadvantaged to least disadvantaged. A low score on the index (i.e. lowest quintile or decile) indicates a high proportion of relatively disadvantaged people in an area. Such areas include many households with low income, people with no qualifications and many people in low skill occupations. It should be noted that it cannot be concluded that an area with a very high score has a large proportion of relatively advantaged (‘well off’) people, as there are no variables in the index to indicate this. It can only be concluded that such an area has a relatively low incidence of disadvantage.

41 The indexes and supporting material are found in the publication Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia (cat no 2033.0.55.001)


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

43 For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the data, the survey microdata will be available through TableBuilder in March 2014. For further details on the TableBuilder product please refer to the Microdata pages on the ABS website.

44 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.


45 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.


46 The ABS plans to conduct this survey again in 2017.


47 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily upcoming release advise on the websites that details products to be released in the week ahead. The web page Topics @ a Glance - Education and Training also contains a range of information and useful references relating to education and training statistics.