Work-Related Training and Adult Learning, Australia methodology

Latest release
Reference period
2020-21 financial year


This publication presents the results from the Survey of Work-Related Training and Adult Learning (WRTAL), a topic on the Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS) conducted throughout Australia from July 2020 to June 2021. 

The MPHS, undertaken each financial year by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), is a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and is designed to collect statistics for a number of small, self-contained topics.

The WRTAL survey collected information about the level of participation of Australia's population in formal study and non-formal learning, with a particular focus on work-related training and personal interest learning. Information available from the survey includes participation rates in non-formal learning, the reasons for participation, the time spent, personal costs incurred and also data on the barriers that prevent some people from undertaking formal study and/or non-formal learning. Information on labour force characteristics, education, income and other demographics was also collected.

The WRTAL survey was previously conducted as a supplement to the monthly LFS in April 2013 and as a topic on the MPHS for the financial year 16/17. Further details are outlined below in the Comparing the data section.

Data collection


The scope of the WRTAL survey is restricted to persons aged 15-74 years who are usual residents of private dwellings excluding: 

  • members of the Australian permanent defence forces;
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from the Census of Population and Housing and estimated resident counts;
  • overseas residents in Australia (intending to stay less than 12 months); 
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants);
  • persons living in non-private dwellings such as hotels, university residences, boarding schools, hospitals, nursing homes, homes for people with disabilities, and prisons;
  • persons resident in the Indigenous Community Strata.

The scope for the MPHS included households residing in urban, rural, remote and very remote parts of Australia, except the persons resident in the Indigenous Community Strata. 


In the LFS, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person in coverage is associated with only one dwelling, and has only one chance of selection in the survey. See Labour Force, Australia for more details.  
Data from the WRTAL survey is available by State, Greater Capital City Statistical Area, Section of State, Remoteness area and Statistical Area Level 4, subject to confidentiality constraints. Geography has been classified according to the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS), July 2016. For a list of these publications see the ABS Geography Publications page. 

Sample size

Information was collected from 24,981 fully responding persons. This includes 486 proxy interviews for people aged 15 to 17 years, where permission was not given by a parent or guardian for a personal interview.

Collection method

The survey is one of a number of small, self-contained topics on the MPHS. Each month, one eighth of the dwellings in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) sample were rotated out of the survey. These dwellings were selected for the MPHS. In these dwellings, after the LFS had been fully completed for each person in scope and coverage, a usual resident aged 15 years or over was selected at random (based on an algorithm) and asked the additional MPHS questions in a personal interview. 

In the MPHS, if the randomly selected person was aged 15 to 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 to 17 year old (proxy interview). 

Data were collected using Computer Assisted Interviewing, whereby responses were recorded directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook device, with interviews conducted either face-to-face or over the telephone. The majority of interviews were conducted over the telephone.

Processing the data


As only a sample of people were surveyed, their results needed to be converted into estimates for the whole population. This was done through a process called weighting.

Each person was given a number (known as a weight) to reflect how many people they represented in the whole population.

A person's initial weight was based on their probability of being selected in the sample. 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).


After calculating the initial person weights, an adjustment was incorporated into the weighting for persons to account for all persons in the population.
The person weights were separately calibrated to independent estimates of the in scope population, referred to as ‘benchmarks’. The benchmarks used additional information about the population to ensure that:

  • people in the sample represented people who were similar to them
  • the survey estimates reflected the distribution of the whole population, not the sample.

The survey was benchmarked to the estimated resident population (ERP) aged 15-74 years living in private dwellings in each state and territory at December 2020. People living in Indigenous communities were excluded. These benchmarks are based on the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. 


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


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Reliability of estimates

Two types of error are possible in estimates based on a sample survey: 

  • non-sampling error    
  • sampling error

Non-sampling error

Non-sampling error is caused by factors other than those related to sample selection. It is any factor that results in the data values not accurately reflecting the true value of the population.

It can occur at any stage throughout the survey process. Examples include:

  • selected people that do not respond (e.g. refusals, non-contact)
  • questions being misunderstood 
  • responses being incorrectly recorded 
  • errors in coding or processing the survey data

Sampling error

Sampling error is the expected difference that can occur between the published estimates and the value that would have been produced if the whole population had been surveyed. Sampling error is the result of random variation and can be estimated using measures of variance in the data.

Standard error

One measure of sampling error is the standard error (SE). There are about two chances in three that an estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if the whole population had been included. There are about 19 chances in 20 that an estimate will differ by less than two SEs.

Measures of error in this release

This release reports the relative standard error (RSE) for estimates of counts ('000) and the margin of error (MOE) for estimates of proportions (%).

Relative standard error

The relative standard error (RSE) is a useful measure of sampling error. It is the SE expressed as a percentage of the estimate:

\(R S E \%=\left(\frac{S E}{e s t i m a t e}\right) \times 100\)

Only estimates with RSEs less than 25% are considered reliable for most purposes. Estimates with larger RSEs, between 25% and less than 50% have been included in the publication, but are flagged to indicate they are subject to high SEs. These should be used with caution. Estimates with RSEs of 50% or more have also been flagged and are considered unreliable for most purposes. RSEs for these estimates are not published.

Margin of error

Another measure of sampling error is the Margin of Error (MOE). This describes the distance from the population value that the sample estimate is likely to be within and is particularly useful to understand the accuracy of proportion estimates.

The MOE is specified at a given level of confidence. Confidence levels typically used are 90%, 95% and 99%. For example, at the 95% confidence level, the MOE indicates that there are about 19 chances in 20 that the estimate will differ by less than the specified MOE from the population value (the figure obtained if the whole population had been enumerated). The 95% MOE is calculated as 1.96 multiplied by the SE:

\(M O E=S E \times 1.96\)

The RSE can also be used to directly calculate a 95% MOE by:

\(M O E=\Large\frac{R S E \% \times e s t i m a t e \times 1.96}{100}\)

The MOEs in this release are calculated at the 95% confidence level. This can easily be converted to a 90% confidence level by multiplying the MOE by:


or to a 99% confidence level by multiplying the MOE by:


Depending on how the estimate is to be used, a MOE of greater than 10% may be considered too large to inform decisions. For example, a proportion of 15% with a MOE of plus or minus 11% would mean the estimate could be anything from 4% to 26%. It is important to consider this range when using the estimates to make assertions about the population.

Estimates of proportions with an MOE more than 10% are annotated to indicate they are subject to high sample variability and particular consideration should be given to the MOE when using these estimates. Depending on how the estimate is to be used, an MOE greater than 10% may be considered too large to inform decisions. In addition, estimates with a corresponding standard 95% confidence interval that includes 0% or 100% are annotated to indicate they are usually considered unreliable for most purposes.

Confidence Intervals

A confidence interval expresses the sampling error as a range in which the population value is expected to lie at a given level of confidence. A confidence interval is calculated by taking the estimate plus or minus the MOE of that estimate. In other terms, the 95% confidence interval is the estimate +/- the MOE.

\(95 \% \text { Confidence Interval }=(\text {estimate}-M O E, \text { estimate }+M O E)\)

Calculating measures of error

Proportions or percentages formed from the ratio of two count estimates are also subject to sampling errors. The size of the error depends on the accuracy of both the numerator and the denominator. A formula to approximate the RSE of a proportion is given below. This formula is only valid when the numerator (x) is a subset of the denominator (y):

\(\operatorname{RSE}\left(\frac{x}{y}\right) \approx \sqrt{[R S E(x)]^{2}-[R S E(y)]^{2}}\)

When calculating measures of error, it may be useful to convert RSE or MOE to SE. This allows the use of standard formulas involving the SE. The SE can be obtained from RSE or MOE using the following formulas:

\(S E(y)=\frac{R S E(y) \times y}{100}\)

\(S E=\Large\frac{M O E}{1.96}\)

Comparison of estimates

The difference between two survey estimates (counts or percentages) can also be calculated from published estimates. Such an estimate is also subject to sampling error. The sampling error of the difference between two estimates depends on their SEs and the relationship (correlation) between them. An approximate SE of the difference between two estimates (x - y) may be calculated by the following formula:

\(​​S E(x-y) \approx \sqrt{[S E(x)]^{2}+[S E(y)]^{2}}\)

While this formula will only be exact for differences between separate and uncorrelated characteristics or sub populations, it provides a good approximation for the differences likely to be of interest in this publication. 

Significance testing

When comparing estimates between surveys or between populations within a survey, it is useful to determine whether apparent differences are 'real' differences or simply the product of differences between the survey samples. 

One way to examine this is to determine whether the difference between the estimates is statistically significant. This is done by calculating the standard error of the difference between two estimates (x and y) and using that to calculate the test statistic using the formula below:

\(\left(\frac{|x-y|}{S E(x-y)}\right)\)


 \(S E(y)=\frac{R S E(y) \times y}{100}\)

If the value of the statistic is greater than 1.96, we can say there is good evidence of a statistically significant difference at 95% confidence levels between the two populations with respect to that characteristic. Otherwise, it cannot be stated with confidence that there is a real difference between the populations.

Comparing the data


Statistics in this release may have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  During the enumeration of WRTAL 2020-21, several initiatives were in place around Australia to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. These included:

  • Australian Government closure of the international border from 20 March 2020; 
  • border control measures between states and territories;
  • periodic state-wide and regional lock downs, with non-essential businesses and services closed; 
  • limits on gatherings and various social distancing rules - resulting in a shift from on-site work to 'working from home' and from 'face-to-face' learning to online learning.

Comparability of Time Series

The WRTAL survey was first conducted in April 2013 as a supplement to the monthly LFS. Both survey vehicles use similar collection methodologies, i.e. both were primarily personal telephone interviews, conducted after the LFS, with one randomly selected person from the household. The questions were the same for both surveys. 

The key difference between the 2013 and following iterations (2016-17 and 2020-21) relates to the length of enumeration time during which the data was collected. The 2013 WRTAL collected data during a one month period while the MPHS enumeration occurred over 12 months. This means that for the 2013 WRTAL, the reference period ' the last 12 months' relates to learning undertaken in the same 12 month period (May 2012 to April 2013). However, for the 2016-17 and 2020-21 MPHS, ' the last 12 months' depends on which month the respondent was interviewed. For example, if a person was interviewed in July 2020, ' the last 12 months' would refer to the period August 2019 to July 2020. If a person was interviewed in June 2021, ' the last 12 months' would refer to the period July 2020 to June 2021. 

While there were only minimal changes to wording from 2013 onwards, the LFS survey questionnaire underwent a number of changes in July 2014. For further information see Information Paper: Questionnaire Used in the Labour Force Survey, July 2014.

In the WRTAL 2020-21, an additional module collecting barriers to formal study was introduced. 

Comparability to monthly LFS statistics

Since the survey is conducted as a supplement to the LFS, data items collected in the LFS are also available in this publication. However, there are some important differences between the two surveys. The scope of the Work-Related and Adult Learning Training survey and the LFS differ (refer to the Scope section above). Due to the differences between the samples, data from this survey and the LFS are weighted separately. Differences may therefore be found in the estimates for those data items collected in the LFS and published as part of the WRTAL survey. 

Comparability with other ABS education surveys

Estimates from the WRTAL survey 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) and margins of error (MOEs) 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. 

The survey of Education and Work, Australia (SEW) has some similarities with the WRTAL survey. Conducted annually, SEW provides a range of indicators about educational participation and attainment, and data on people's transition between education and work. Comparison of SEW and WRTAL data should be undertaken with caution due to different collection methodologies, scope and sample size. 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 WRTAL is conducted as a personal interview with one randomly selected person aged 15-74 years in the household.

Data release


A number of datacubes (spreadsheets) containing all tables produced for this publication are available from the Data Downloads section of the main release. The datacubes present tables of estimates and proportions, and their associated measures of error. As tables names have changed and new tables have been added since the last release, a 'Concordance' spreadsheet is included along with the Data Item List. A copy of the questionnaire is available under the Survey material section.


For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the data, the survey microdata will be released through the TableBuilder product (see TableBuilder: Work-Related Training and Adult Learning, Australia for more detail). Microdata can be used by approved users to produce customised tables and analysis from the survey data. Microdata products are designed to ensure the integrity of the data whilst maintaining the confidentiality of the respondents to the survey.

Custom tables

Customised statistical tables to meet individual requirements can be produced on request. These are subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints which may limit what can be provided. Enquiries on the information available and the cost of these services should be made to the ABS website Contact us page.


The Census and Statistics Act 1905 authorises the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that information is not published in a way that could identify a particular person or organisation. The ABS must make sure that information about individual respondents cannot be derived from published data.

To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values. This technique is called perturbation. Perturbation involves a small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics. After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, adding up cell values to derive a total will not necessarily give the same result as published totals. The introduction of perturbation in publications ensures that these statistics are consistent with statistics released via services such as TableBuilder. 


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Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)

The AQF is the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australian education and training. It incorporates the qualifications from each education and training sector into a single comprehensive national qualifications framework. The AQF was first introduced in 1995 to underpin the national system of qualifications in Australia encompassing higher education, vocational education and training and schools.

Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED)

Education data are coded to the Australian Standard Classification of Education, 2001. 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. It includes 'Level of education' and 'Field of education'. 

Classroom instruction

Method for delivering work-related training which generally involves a teacher, lecturer or presenter; includes but not limited to seminars, lecturers, hands-on work or practical exercises, group exercises and laboratory work. Instruction may be delivered by either an existing staff member, a consultant hired by the organisation or an external training provider.  

Completed a qualification

A person having 'completed' a qualification means they have successfully passed all of the requirements for the qualification and excludes people who have stopped studying without gaining the qualification.  

Contact activities

Contact activities include direct contact with a teacher, lecturer or presenter.

Country of birth

Country of birth has been classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC). 'Born in Australia' refers to all persons born in Australia or any of its external territories'. 'Born overseas' refers to all persons not 'born in Australia', including those born at sea and persons whose country of birth is unknown.

Current main job

The job which a person was employed in during the survey reference week. In cases where the person was employed in more than one job, the current main job refers to the job in which the person usually works the most hours. However, a person may have undertaken their most recent work-related training in a previous job. Therefore several tables presented in this release relating to work-related training are presented only for people who have undertaken training as part of their current main job.


People who, during the reference week: 

  • worked for one hour or more for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind in a job or business, or on a farm (comprising employees, employers and own account workers); or 
  • worked for one hour or more without pay in a family business or on a farm (i.e. contributing family workers); or 
  • were employees who had a job but were not at work and were: 
    • away from work for less than four weeks up to the end of the reference week; or    
    • away from work for more than four weeks up to the end of the reference week and received pay for some or all of the four week period to the end of the reference week; or 
    • away from work as a standard work or shift arrangement; or 
    • on strike or locked out; or 
    • on workers' compensation and expected to return to their job; or
  • were employers or own account workers who had a job, business or farm, but were not at work.

Employed full-time

Employed people who usually worked 35 hours or more a week (in all jobs) and those who, although usually working less than 35 hours a week, worked 35 hours or more during the reference week.  

Employed part-time

Employed people who usually worked less than 35 hours a week (in all jobs) and either did so during the reference week, or were not at work in the reference week. 


An employee works for a public or private employer and receives remuneration in wages, salary, on a commission basis (with or without a retainer), tips, piece-rates, or payment in kind. 


The term engagement is used when assessing a persons level of participation in employment and formal education. People can be 'Fully engaged', 'Partially engaged', or 'Not engaged'. 

Employment status

Education status


Full-time study
Part-time studyNot studying
Full-time employmentFully engagedFully engagedFully engaged
Part-time employmentFully engagedFully engagedPartially engaged
Unemployed looking for full-time workFully engagedPartially engagedNot engaged
Unemployed looking for part-time workFully engagedPartially engagedNot engaged
Not in the labour forceFully engagedPartially engagedNot engaged


External training provider

For the purpose of this survey an external training provider is defined as a person or organisation who delivers work-related training and is not classified as either an existing staff member or a consultant hired by the organisation to deliver the training.

Field of education

Refers to 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 of education. Where a qualification covered multiple fields (e.g. a double degree) the 'Main Field of Education ' is the field considered the most important for the survey respondent.

Field of highest educational attainment

The subject matter of the educational activity for the highest achievement a person has attained in any area of formal study. Where a qualification covered multiple fields (e.g. a double degree) the 'main field of highest educational attainment' is the field considered the most important for the survey respondent. 

Formal study

Formal study leads to a qualification recognised by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) such as a Degree, Diploma or Certificate and also includes study at school. Formal study is provided in the systems of schools, colleges, universities and other institutions or organisations and is usually associated with a providing body responsible for determining the teaching method and/or curriculum, admission requirements. In this survey, if the respondent was still attending school their level of study was recorded as their current year of schooling. Formal study was referred to as 'Formal learning' in WRTAL 2016-17 but the definition has not changed.  

Greater capital city

Refers to Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSA) as defined by the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). The GCCSAs represent the socio-economic extent of each of the eight State and Territory capital cities. The whole of the Australian Capital Territory is included in the GCCSA. See Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 - Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, July 2016.


Income consists of all current receipts, that are received by the household or by individual members of the household, and which are available for, or intended to support, current consumption.

  • wages and salaries and other receipts from employment (whether from an employer or own incorporated enterprise), including income provided as part of salary sacrificed and/or salary package arrangements 
  • profit/loss from own unincorporated business (including partnerships)
  • net investment income (interest, rent, dividends, royalties) 
  • government pensions and allowances 
  • private transfers (e.g. superannuation, workers' compensation, income from annuities, child support, and financial support received from family members not living in the same household)

Gross income is the sum of the income from all these sources before income tax, the Medicare levy and the Medicare levy surcharge are deducted. 


Informal learning

Refers to learning that occurs away from a structured, formal classroom environment. It comes in many forms, including viewing videos, self-study, reading articles, participating in forums and chat rooms, performance support, coaching sessions and games. Informal learning is a style of learning in which the learner sets their own goals and objectives. This type of learning is not in scope of this survey.

International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED)

The ISCED was developed by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to facilitate comparisons of education statistics and indicators within and between countries. In 2011, the second major revision of this classification was officially adopted by the UNESCO General Conference and takes into account significant changes in education systems worldwide since the previous ISCED revision in 1997. Education data were categorised from ASCED 2001 to ISCED 2011 using a concordance method. For more information, see 'Concordance between Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) and International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED)', Australian Department of Education.  

Level of Education

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 of education.

Level of highest educational attainment

Level of highest educational attainment identifies the highest achievement a person has attained in any area of formal study. It is not a measurement of the relative importance of different fields of study, but a ranking of qualifications and other educational attainments regardless of the particular area of study or the type of institution in which the study was undertaken. The derivation process determines which of the 'school' or 'non-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.  

The following decision table shows which responses to 'highest year of school completed' and 'level of highest non-school qualification' are regarded as the highest. For example, a person's level of highest educational attainment if they completed Year 12 and a Certificate III would be 'Certificate III'. However, if the same person answered 'certificate' to the highest non-school qualification question, their level of highest educational attainment would be output as 'Level not determined'. In addition, for persons who never attended school and do not have a non-school qualification the output is 'No educational attainment'.     

Decision table - Level of Highest Educational Attainment
Highest year of school completed

                                               Level of highest non-school qualification

Cert IVCert IIICert III & IV n.f.d.Cert IICert ICert I & II n.f.d.Cert n.f.d.Inadequately described L.n.dNot Stated
Year 12Cert IVCert IIICert III & IV n.f.d.Year 12Year 12Year 12L.n.d.L.n.d.N.S.
Year 11Cert IVCert IIICert III & IV n.f.d.Year 11Year 11Year 11L.n.d.L.n.d.N.S.
Senior Sec. Education n.f.dCert IVCert IIICert III & IV n.f.d.Senior Sec. n.f.d.Senior Sec. n.f.d.Senior Sec. n.f.d.L.n.d.L.n.d.N.S.
Year 10Cert IVCert IIICert III & IV n.f.d.Year 10Year 10Year 10L.n.d.L.n.d.N.S.
Year 9 and belowCert IVCert IIICert III & IV n.f.d.Cert IICert ICert I & II n.f.d.Cert n.f.d.L.n.d.N.S.
Sec. Education n.f.dCert IVCert IIICert III & IV n.f.d.L.n.d.L.n.d.L.n.d.L.n.d.L.n.d.N.S.
Junior Sec. Education n.f.dCert IVCert IIICert III & IV n.f.d.L.n.d.L.n.d.L.n.d.L.n.d.L.n.d.N.S.
Not statedCert IVCert IIICert III & IV n.f.d.N.S.N.S.N.S.N.S.N.S.N.S.
Never attended schoolCert IVCert IIICert III & IV n.f.d.Cert IICert ICert I & II n.f.d.Cert n.f.d.L.n.d.N.S.

Cert = Certificate
L.n.d = Level not determined
n.f.d = not further defined
N.S. = Not Stated
Sec. = Secondary

For ease of interpretability, the layout of this table has been modified from Education Variables, June 2014, however the ranking of different levels of attainment has not changed.

Level of highest non-school qualification

A person's level of highest non-school qualification is the highest qualification a person has attained in any area of formal study other than school study. It is categorised according to the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 Level of education classification.  

Non-contact activities

Activities that do not involve contact with a teacher or instructor, for example undertaking research or completing assignments.

Non-formal learning

Non-formal learning activities are structured training or courses that do not form part of an award or qualification (e.g. Degree or Certificate) recognised by the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF).

Non-school qualification

Non-school qualifications are awarded for educational attainments other than those of pre-primary, primary or secondary education. They include qualifications at the Postgraduate Degree level, Master Degree level, Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate level, Bachelor Degree level, Advanced Diploma and Diploma level, and Certificates I, II, III and IV levels. School level qualifications obtained through institutions other than primary and secondary schools (such as TAFE) are not included. Non-school qualifications may be attained concurrently with school study.

Not in labour force

People who were not in the categories ‘employed’ or ‘unemployed’ during the reference week.


An occupation is a collection of jobs that are sufficiently similar in their title and tasks, skill level and skill specialisation. Occupation data is classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), 2013, Version 1.2.

Online instruction

Method for delivering work-related training; includes but not limited to self paced learning and training undertaken via the internet and lectures delivered by a teacher/instructor over the internet.

Own business

Refers to people who work in their own incorporated or unincorporated business with or without employees. Own business also includes contractors and subcontractors, and people contributing to a family business. 

Part-time study

Refers to study load that is not considered full-time by the institution.

Personal costs

Includes any cost related to the course which were paid for by the participant and not reimbursed by a third party, for example course fees or costs for study materials.

Personal interest learning

Structured non-formal learning courses that do not lead to a qualification, undertaken for reasons not related to work.


Formal certification, issued by a relevant approved body, in recognition that a person has achieved an appropriate level of learning outcomes or competencies relevant to identified individual, professional, industry or community needs. Statements of attainment awarded for partial completion of a course of study at a particular level are excluded.

Reference week

The week preceding the week in which the interview was conducted.


The Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) was used to define remoteness. The Remoteness Structure is described in detail in the publication Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure, July 2016

Rest of state/territory

School study

School study is participation in primary or secondary level education, regardless of the institution or location where the study is or was undertaken. It therefore includes such study undertaken in a Technical and Further Education (TAFE) or other institution. For the purpose of this release school study is classified as participation in formal study.

Size of business

A measure of the size of business in terms of the number of employees within that business. The business size is measured as the number of employees at the physical location where the employer works as well as the size of the business Australia-wide. In this survey, the size of business is as reported by the respondent.  

Skill level

A function of the range and complexity of the set of tasks involved in an occupation. The greater the range and complexity of the set of tasks, the greater the skill level of the occupation. For more information, see the Occupation Standard, 2018.

Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)

Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) is an ABS product that ranks areas in Australia according to relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage. The indexes are based on information from the five-yearly Census of Population and Housing.  The SEIFA indexes used in this publication were created from Census 2016 data. Each index is a summary of a different subset of Census variables and focuses on a different aspect of socio-economic advantage and disadvantage. Each index ranks geographic areas across Australia in terms of their relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage. It is therefore likely that the same area will have different ranking on each index. 
The four indexes in SEIFA 2016 are: 

  • Index of Education and Occupation (IEO)
  • Index of Relative Socio-economic Advantage and Disadvantage (IRSAD)
  • Index of Economic Resources (IER)
  • Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSD)

For more information, refer to Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia, 2016


Employed people aged 15 years and over who want, and are available for, more hours of work than they currently have. They comprise:

  • people employed part-time who want to work more hours and are available to start work with more hours, either in the reference week or in the four weeks subsequent to the survey; or
  • people employed full-time who worked part-time hours in the reference week for economic reasons (such as being stood down or insufficient work being available). It is assumed that these people wanted to work full-time in the reference week and would have been available to do so.

Year 12 or equivalent

'Year 12 or equivalent' includes overseas qualifications comparable to the Australian Year 12 level of schooling as well as other terms used to describe the final year of schooling in Australia, for example, 'Year 13', '6th Form', 'high school certificate' and 'matriculation'.

Working hours

Refers to the time when a person would usually be working.

Work-related training

Non-formal learning undertaken to obtain, maintain or improve employment related skills and/or to improve employment opportunities. Work-related training courses have a structured format but do not lead to a qualification. 


ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ANZSCOAustralian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations
ANZSICAustralian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification
AQFAustralian Qualifications Framework
ASCEDAustralian Standard Classification of Education
ASGSAustralian Statistical Geography Standard
ERPEstimated Resident Population
GCCSAGreater Capital City Statistical Areas
IEOIndex of Education and Occupation
IERIndex of Economic Resources
IRSADIndex of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage and Disadvantage
IRSDIndex of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage
ISCEDInternational Standard Classification of Education
ISCOInternational Standard Classification of Occupations
ISICInternational Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities
LFSLabour Force Survey
MOEMargin of Error
MPHSMultipurpose Household Survey
MPSMonthly Population Survey
n.f.d.not further defined
NSQnon-school qualification
RSERelative Standard Error
SA1Statistical Area Level 1
SA4Statistical Area Level 4
SACCStandard Australian Classification of Countries
SEStandard Error
SEIFASocio-Economic Indexes for Areas
SEWSurvey of Education and Work
TAFETechnical and Further Education
UNESCOUnited Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation
WRTALWork-Related Training and Adult Learning
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