Education qualifications the most relevant to jobs

Media Release

People with a qualification in education were the most likely to say it was the most relevant qualification to their job (almost 80 per cent), while those qualified in natural and physical sciences (such as botany, geology, chemistry etc.) were the least likely (just over 40 per cent), according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

ABS Director of Education and Training Statistics, Steven Nicholas, said the Survey of Qualifications and Work (July 2018 to June 2019) showed the top three qualification fields most relevant to people's current jobs were education, health, and architecture and building, while natural and physical sciences, food hospitality and personal services, and creative arts were among the least likely to be.

"The survey also provided interesting insights into qualifications people had attained and their subsequent work. For example 14 per cent of people with qualifications not relevant to their current job reported being underemployed (that is, they would have preferred and were available to work more hours than they did), compared with 6 per cent of those with relevant qualifications."

Mr Nicholas added: "The survey showed that 63 per cent of Australians reported at least one qualification at the certificate, diploma, degree or postgraduate degree level, an increase from 61 per cent in 2015." 

"Around a quarter of Australians (24 per cent) had more than one qualification. Women were slightly more likely to have multiple qualifications than men (26 per cent compared with 22 per cent). However, having qualifications did not translate to income parity - women with one or more qualifications who were employed full-time had lower average weekly personal incomes than their male counterparts. Women with three or more qualifications had average weekly personal incomes similar to full-time working men with one qualification."

The survey also showed that 16 per cent of people had at least one incomplete qualification. The most common reasons for having an incomplete qualification were no longer being interested in the course (29 per cent), followed by family, health and other personal reasons (24 per cent), and employment or financial reasons (21 per cent). While there were no real differences by gender for people losing interest in the course, women were more likely to stop studying for family, health or other personal reasons, while men were more likely to stop for employment and financial reasons.

More details are available in Qualifications and Work, Australia, July 2018 - June 2019 (cat. no. 4235.0), available for free download from the ABS website

Media notes

  • When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
  • The Survey of Qualifications and Work asked employed people aged 15 to 64 years whether their non-school qualifications (certificates, diplomas and degrees) were relevant to their current job, and which qualification was the most relevant.
  • Incomplete qualifications are non-school qualifications that were started or partially undertaken but never completed, excluding qualifications that are currently being studied.
  • The reference period for this survey was July 2018 to June 2019 before the impacts of COVID-19.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media team on 1300 175 070 (8.30am - 5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our email notification service and get media releases or products sent to you on release.
Back to top of the page