Microdata and TableBuilder: Education and Work, Australia

Enables analysis of participation of current or recent study, educational attainments, and employment.

Accessing the data

The Survey of Education and Work (SEW) provides annual statistics about the educational activity and qualifications of the population. It is conducted in May each year throughout Australia as a supplement to the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). See Education and Work, Australia for summary results, methodology and other information.

The data can be accessed using the following microdata products: 

  • TableBuilder - produce your own tables and graphs. TableBuilder is available for the following survey years: all years from 2011 to 2021.
  • DataLab - detailed microdata is available in DataLab for the following survey years: 2016 and 2017.
  • Basic microdata - confidentialised unit record files provide basic microdata for the following survey years: 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.

Compare access options to see what's right for you or Apply for access.

Data and file structure

Data items include:  

  • Demographics, such as age, sex and country of birth
  • Geography
  • Labour force characteristics
  • Highest educational attainment
  • Education in current year
  • Education in previous year
  • Time left study
  • Apprenticeships/traineeships in current year
  • Unmet demand for apprenticeships/traineeships
  • Population data items

Refer to data item lists for each microdata product for detailed information on items available. Use the data item list to confirm whether the dataset includes what you need for your research before purchasing your subscription.

The SEW is structured as a single level person file.

Using TableBuilder

TableBuilder User Guide

The TableBuilder User Guide provides you with information about how to create basic tables, custom groups, graphs and large tables. It also includes practical examples and video tutorials.


When tabulating data in TableBuilder, person weights are automatically applied to the underlying sample counts. 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 sample unit. The weight is the value that indicates how many population units are represented by the sample unit.

Not applicable categories

Most data items included in the TableBuilder file include a 'Not applicable' category. The classification values of these 'Not applicable' categories, where relevant, are shown in the TableBuilder data item list. The 'Not applicable' category generally represents the number of people who were not asked a particular question or the number of people excluded from the population for a data item when that data was derived (e.g. Year of Arrival in Australia is not applicable for people born in Australia).

Table populations

The population relevant to each data item is identified in the data item list and should be kept in mind when extracting and analysing data. The actual population estimate for each data item is equal to the total cumulative frequency minus the 'Not applicable' category.

In addition, the SEW TableBuilder includes 'Population data items' that can be used in a table to 'filter' for a specific population of interest. For example, the population data item 'P04. Persons with a non-school qualification' can be used to filter for this population.

The purpose of the population data item 'P16. Non-Indigenous flag' is to assist users in producing non-indigenous data only. It should not be used to estimate for the Indigenous population through differencing, as the scope of the SEW excludes persons living in Indigenous communities.

Continuous data items

The SEW TableBuilder includes several continuous variables: 

  • They can have a response value at any point along a continuum.
  • Some continuous data items are allocated special codes for certain responses (e.g. 000 = 'Not applicable').
  • When creating ranges in TableBuilder for such continuous items, special codes will automatically be excluded. Therefore the total will show only 'valid responses' rather than all responses (including special codes). These codes are shown in the data item list.
  • Continuous items with special codes have a corresponding categorical item on the Person level that provides the ability to display data for the special code. Refer to the data item list.


A confidentiality process called perturbation is applied to the data in TableBuilder to avoid releasing information that may lead to the identification of individuals, families, households, dwellings or businesses. See Confidentiality in the TableBuilder User Guide.

Using DataLab

The DataLab environment allows real time access to detailed microdata from the Survey of Education and Work.

The DataLab is an interactive data analysis solution available for users to run advanced statistical analyses, for example, multiple regressions and structural equation modelling. The DataLab environment contains up-to-date versions of SPSS, Stata, SAS and R analytical languages. Controls in the DataLab have been put in place to protect the identification of individuals and organisations. All output from DataLab sessions is cleared by an ABS officer before it is released.

A test file is available with this release so researchers can become familiar with the data structure and prepare code/programs before applying for or beginning a DataLab session.

For information about all of the data items available in the DataLab please see the DataLab microdata data item lists.

For more information, including prerequisites for DataLab access, please see the About the DataLab page.

Data downloads

Data files

Previous releases

 TableBuilder data seriesMicrodataDownloadDataLab
Education and Work, biennially 2001-2011 Basic microdata 

Explanatory notes

Show all

See Education and Work, Australia methodology for information on:

  • Data collection
  • Processing the data
  • Comparing the data
  • Data release
  • Glossary
  • Abbreviations

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 6227.0.30.001.