My journey through “Educational Opportunity in Australia 2015” (Transition to Adulthood) Part 5

This one is going to be a little dry with mostly stats and data dominated. Transition to adulthood which in this particular study is milestone 4 that whether one is fully engaged in education, training or work. I have personally have finished my university study and started full time work during this age range of 20 to 24. It seemed so long ago when I was that young.

For many Australians aged 20–24 years, early adulthood marks a shift away from full-time education and training towards the labour market, and aspirations to develop careers and secure strong economic futures. Some will have built on academic success at school in continuing to higher education, while others build on skills acquired in training or the labour market. #1

Participation in education, training and work is often used as an indicator of the wellbeing of young people. Research suggests that young people who are not fully engaged in education or employment (or a combination of both) are at greater risk of unemployment, cycles of low pay, and employment insecurity in the longer term (Lamb & Mason, 2009; Pech et al., 2009). Participation in education and training, and engagement in employment, are considered important aspects of developing individual capability and building a socially inclusive society (Australian Social Inclusion Board, 2010).  #2

Now some stats on who made it and who missed the milestone.

In 2014, the majority (73.5 per cent) of young people aged 24 years (from a total of around 350,000) were fully engaged in either education or work. This rate varied depending on several background factors. #3

The gap between the highest and lowest deciles is 24 percentage points. Only 58.9 per cent of young people from the lowest socio-economic status decile of the population were engaged in full-time study or work; this percentage rises with each socio-economic status decile, reaching 83.1 per cent for those in the highest decile.   #4

The most significant risk factors of being unable to secure full-time work or engage in study or training and missing out are being Indigenous, being female, and coming from a low-socio-economic status background. While the overall number of 24-year-olds at risk in 2014 was over 90,000, women accounted for 55,470 (60 per cent), partly due to child-rearing and other unpaid domestic work. #5

Participation in higher education

The rates vary by social background. Only 17.3 per cent of young adults from the most disadvantaged backgrounds (lowest decile of socio-economic status) attended university, compared to 47.2 per cent from the most advantaged (highest decile). The opportunity for higher education study, and the professions to which it often leads, is far from evenly shared. #6

Differences in access to university study are partly linked to how well students do in school. Transition from Year 12 to university study is intrinsically linked to the level of senior secondary certificate achievement, due to the gatekeeper role that Year 12 assessment plays in entry to higher education. The link with school achievement pushes further back down the year levels to the middle years.The lowest achievers had very little chance of enrolling in higher education, with only 15.3 per cent enrolling by age 24. This relationship is linear as we ascend socio-economic status until, in a mirror-image reflection of the lowest achievers, 77.5 per cent of the highest achievers transition to university by age 24. #7

Roughly 22 per cent of university entrants dropped out or had not completed within eight years. #8

The ATAR scores of school leavers are a major predictor of non-completion. Almost all those entering university with ATAR scores above 95 complete (only 3.9 per cent drop out). The rate for those with average ATAR scores (70–79) is 21.6 per cent, while for those with ATAR scores between 50 and 59 the dropout rate is 37.6 per cent.   #9

Despite the much lower chances of gaining entry to university (and potentially selection of only the most able), low-socio-economic status students experience a higher rate of dropout than high-socio-economic status students. Over a quarter of low-socio-economic status students did not complete their course, compared to less than a fifth of high-socio-economic status students (26.3 per cent vs 18.9 per cent). These data illustrate the compounding negative effect that social disadvantage has on a young person’s ability to access and succeed in higher education, as well as indicate the different roles that higher education has in the lives and aspirations of young people from different social groups. #10

Participation in Vocational Education and Training (VET)

At a national level, it shows that in 2014 nearly one in five of all 20–24-year-olds were enrolled in VET (19.6 per cent, NCVER 2014). #11

It shows that one in two young people undertook some type of VET study in their teenage years or early 20s. While many enrolled, about 70 per cent had completed the study by their mid-20s. This meant that 35.6 per cent of all young people had completed a VET course by their mid-20s.  #12

Roughly one in two low achievers at age 15 (lowest quintile of mathematics achievement) had completed a VET qualification by their mid-20s. The rate for high achievers was about one in seven, largely because high achievers pursued forms of further study other than VET. #13

Participation in apprenticeships

In 2014, 5.9 per cent of 20– 24-year-old Australians were doing an apprenticeship or traineeship. These are more prevalent among men, who were nearly three times as likely to be indentured as women (8.7 percent vs 3 per cent). #14

Apprenticeships and traineeships are an important pathway for low achievers in school as well as for students from low-socio-economic status backgrounds. Over a third of young people in the lowest quintile of mathematics achievement at age 15 gained an apprenticeship, and almost a quarter had completed their trade training by their mid-20s. Similar estimates occur for young people from low-socio-economic status backgrounds. #15

Labour market participatio

Overall, in 2015, 41.3 per cent of 20–24-year-olds were employed full-time, 30.2 per cent were employed part-time, 7.4 per cent were not working and looking for work, while 21.1 per cent were not working and not looking for work. #16

Men were much more likely to be employed in full-time positions than women (47.2 per cent vs 35.2 per cent), yet were also more likely to be unemployed (8.8 per cent vs 5.9 per cent). #17

Only 2.6 per cent of 20–24-year-olds from high-socio-economic status (highest decile) origins were not in the labour force, versus 14.2 per cent of those from the lowest socio-economic status category. #18

We almost at end of this journey now and next blog entry will round this up with the conclusion and my own summary as well.

#1 to #18 Educational opportunity in Australia 2015

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