6227.0 - Education and Work, Australia, May 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/12/2007   
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1 The statistics in this publication were compiled from data collected in the Survey of Education and Work (SEW) that was conducted throughout Australia in May 2007 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.

2 The SEW provides a range of key indicators relating to the educational participation and attainment of persons aged 15-64 years along with data on people's transition between education and work. The annual time series allows for ongoing monitoring, and provides a link with the more detailed range of educational indicators available from the four-yearly Surveys of Education and Training. Specifically, the supplementary survey provides information on: people presently participating in education; level of highest non-school qualification; characteristics of people's transition between education and work; and data on apprentices.

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 LFS, which also apply to supplementary surveys. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing relevant to both the LFS and supplementary surveys.

4 From April 2001, the LFS has been conducted using a redesigned questionnaire containing additional questions and some minor definitional changes. These changes also affect the supplementary surveys. For more details, see Information Paper: Implementing the Redesigned Labour Force Survey Questionnaire (cat no. 6295.0) and Information Paper: Questionnaires Used in the Labour Force Survey (cat. no. 6232.0)


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 (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001) which is available on the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au>.


6 The scope of the SEW was restricted to persons aged 15-64 years and excludes the following persons:

  • members of the permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from the Census and estimated resident population figures
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants)
  • persons permanently unable to work.

7 Patients in hospitals, residents of homes (e.g. retirement homes, homes for persons with disabilities), boarding school pupils and inmates of prisons are excluded from all supplementary surveys.

8 Boarding school pupils were excluded from the scope of the SEW since 2005, but were included in earlier collections. The 2004 survey had yielded an estimated 24,100 boarding school pupils aged 15 years and over. Such persons were assumed to be 'not in the labour force' and to be enrolled for secondary school study - 'Year 12 or below'. They were also assumed to be usually resident in the same location (i.e. state and territory and part of state or territory) as their school. The only information collected directly on these persons was age, sex and marital status. All other characteristics were unknown.

9 This supplementary survey was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded persons living in very remote parts of Australia who would otherwise have been within the scope of the survey. The exclusion of these persons had only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, except the Northern Territory where such persons account for around 23% of the population.


10 The estimates in this publication relate to persons covered by the survey in May 2007. 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 Approximately 95% of selected households were fully responding to the SEW. All persons aged 15-64 in these households were interviewed for the SEW and a total of 45,741 completed interviews were obtained from these households.


12 Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors:

  • Sampling error is the difference between the published estimate and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings had been included in the survey. For further details see the Technical Note.
  • Non-sampling errors are inaccuracies that occur because of imperfections in reporting by respondents and interviewers, and errors made in coding and processing data. These inaccuracies may occur in any enumeration, whether it be a full count or a sample. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers, and efficient processing procedures.


13 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.



14 Country of birth data are classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 1998 (cat. no. 1269.0).


15 From 2006, the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0) replaces the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 1993 (cat.no. 1292.0). In 2007, industry data in the SEW are classified according to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 2006. Data classified according to the ANZSIC 1993 are available on request.

16 ANZSIC 2006 was developed for use in the compilation and analysis of industry statistics in Australia and New Zealand. The ABS and Statistics New Zealand (Statistics NZ) jointly developed this classification to improve the comparability of industry statistics between the two countries and with the rest of the world.

17 ANZSIC 2006 reflects the outcome of a substantial review of the classification, which included extensive consultation with internal and external users and alignment with the upcoming revision of the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC Rev.4 (draft)). Consequently, it provides a more contemporary and internationally comparable industrial classification system.


18 From 2006, the (ANZSCO) Australia and New Zealand Standard Classifications of Occupations, First Edition, 2006 (cat. no. 1220.0) replaces the Australia Standard Classifications of Occupations (ASCO), Second Edition, 1997 (cat. no. 1220.0). In 2007, occupation data in the SEW are classified according to Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, 2006. Data classified according to the ASCO are available on request.

19 ANZSCO is the product of a development program undertaken jointly by the ABS, Statistics NZ and the Australian Government Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) for use in the collection, publication and analysis of occupation statistics.

20 ANZSCO is intended to provide an integrated framework for storing, organising and reporting occupation-related information in statistical applications. The use of ANZSCO will result in improved comparability of occupation statistics produced by the two countries.


21 In 2001, the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) (cat. no. 1272.0) replaces the ABS Classification of Qualifications (ABSCQ) (cat. no. 1262.0). 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. ASCED replaces a number of classifications previously used in administrative and statistical systems, including the ABSCQ. The ASCED comprises two classifications: Level of Education and Field of Education.

22 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).

23 The relationship between categories in the Level of Education classification should be essentially ordinal. In other words, educational activities at Broad Level 1 Postgraduate Degree should be at a higher level than those at Broad Level 2 Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate, and so on. However, when this idea is applied to the reality of educational provision in Australia, it is not always possible to assert that an ordinal relationship exists among the various levels of education.

24 This is particularly evident in the case of the relationship between Certificates I-IV in Broad Level 5 Certificate Level, and School Education included in Broad Level 6 Secondary Education. In this instance, the level of education associated with secondary education may range from satisfying the entry requirements for admission to a university degree course, to the completion of units in basic literacy, numeracy and life skills. Educational activity in these categories may therefore be of an equal, higher or lower level than Certificates found in Broad Level 5 Certificate Level.

25 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.

26 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)


27 Level of Highest Educational Attainment can be 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 will be 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.

28 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) will be regarded as the highest. It is emphasised that this table was designed for the purpose of obtaining a single value for the output variable Level of Highest Educational Attainment and is not intended to convey any other ordinality.

Diagram: This table cross-tabulates highest level of school completed by highest level of non-school qualfication to define the decision pattern for level of highest educational attainment

29 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 offering 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.


30 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 2004 to take account of the results of the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. Estimates from supplementary surveys conducted from and including February 2004 are therefore based on revised population benchmarks.

31 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.

32 Since 2005, boarding school pupils have been excluded from the scope of the SEW, but were included in earlier collections. For further details, see paragraph 8 of the Explanatory Notes.

33 Since 2007, industry data in the SEW are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0). Industry data prior to this were classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 1993 (cat. no. 1292.0). Therefore, industry data from previous SEWs are not directly comparable to 2007 industry data. For further details, see paragraphs 15-17 of the Explanatory Notes.

34 Since 2007, occupation data in the SEW are classified according to the (ANZSCO) Australia and New Zealand Standard Classifications of Occupations, First Edition, 2006 (cat. no. 1220.0). Occupation data prior to this were classified according to the Australia Standard Classifications of Occupations (ASCO), Second Edition, 1997 (cat. no. 1220.0) Therefore, occupation data from previous SEWs are not directly comparable to 2007 occupation data. For further details, see paragraphs 18-20 of the Explanatory Notes.


35 Since the SEW is conducted as a supplement to the LFS, data items collected in the LFS are also available. However, there are some important differences between the two surveys. The SEW sample is a subset of the LFS sample (see Paragraph 1 of these Explanatory Notes) and the SEW had a response rate of 95% which is lower than the LFS response rate for the same period of 97%. 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 2007 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 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 is collected by an interviewer or self-enumerated by the respondent, whether the data is collected from the person themselves or from a proxy respondent, and the level of experience of the interviewers. 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.

39 The following table, Comparison of Data from SEW to Other ABS Sources, presents comparisons between a number of key SEW data items and similar data items from other ABS sources. These sources include data collected in the LFS, which was reported in the May 2007 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) and data collected from the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALLS), which was reported in the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, Summary Results, Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 4228.0). The comparison shows SEW data are broadly consistent with other ABS sources.

Comparison of Data from SEW to other ABS sources

Other ABS sources
SEW May 2007

Labour force status
Employed full-time
Employed part-time
Not in the labour force
Country of birth
Born in Australia
Born overseas
Highest year of school completed
Year 12
Year 11
Year 10
Year 9
Year 8 or below
No educational attainment/attendance
Level of highest non-school qualification
Postgraduate Degree/Graduate Diploma/Graduate Certificate
Advanced Diploma/Diploma
Bachelor Degree
Certificate III/IV
Certificate I/II
Certificate n.f.d.
Level not determined
No educational attainment/attendance

(a) Data was restricted to persons aged 15-64 years to align with the scope of the SEW.
(b) Data includes persons living in sparsely settled areas and persons not living in private dwellings who are out of the scope of the SEW.


40 Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURF) release confidentialised microdata from surveys, thereby facilitating interrogation and analysis of data. For the Education and Work survey, a basic CURF will be available in 2008. For further details, refer to the 2005 Education and Work 2005 survey CURF, Information Paper: Survey of Education and Work, Australia -- Confidentialised Unit Record File, May 2005 (cat. no. 6227.0.30.002).


41 Results of similar surveys have been given in previous issues of this publication. 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:


42 The ABS intends to conduct this survey again in May 2008.


43 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.


44 Other publications which may be of interest include:

45 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site that details products to be released in the week ahead. The National Centre for Education and Training theme page also contains a wealth of information and useful references. This site can be accesed through the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au>.