2021 NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey

This report was originally published 24 October 2022.


The NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey collects information about students’ main destination in the year after completing Year 12 or leaving school early.1

There are 10 main school destinations that relate to further education and current employment: bachelor degree, VET certificate IV+, VET certificate III, VET certificate I-II, apprenticeship, traineeship,2 full-time work, part-time work, looking for work, and not in the labour force3 or further education or training (NILFET).

The survey provides information on education pathways, attainments and destinations of young people in NSW, and informs policymaking related to students’ post-school education, training and employment.

In 2021, all students who left school in 2020 were invited to complete the survey. The participants consisted of students who finished Year 12 in 2020 (called Year 12 completers) and students who left school sometime during 2020 and may have been in Year 10, Year 11 or Year 12 (called early school leavers). A total of 60,621 Year 12 completers and 20,307 early school leavers were invited to take part in the 2021 survey.

Responses were received from 35,916 Year 12 completers and 6,472 early school leavers and are analysed in this report.4

Destinations of students who completed school or left school early in 2020

Year 12 completers

Image: Figure 1: Proportion of Year 12 completers by main destination in 2021

Close to three-quarters (73.1%) of the 2020 Year 12 completers were in some form of education or training in 2021. The main post-school destination for this cohort was a bachelor degree (54.9%). Just over one-fifth (20.2%) were employed (7.5% full‑time and 12.8% part-time), while a smaller proportion was looking for work (4.5%), or NILFET (2.2%).

Early school leavers

Image: FIgure 2: Proportion of early school leavers by main destination in 2021

In 2021, the main post-school destinations for 2020 early school leavers were substantially different from Year 12 completers. Almost 3 in 5 early school leavers (58.1%) were undertaking some form of education or training, compared to nearly 3 in 4 Year 12 completers (73.1%). The most common post-school destination among this cohort was apprenticeship (34.9%). Just under one-quarter of early school leavers were employed (9.4% full-time and 15.0% part-time), while a smaller proportion were looking for work (12.6%), or NILFET (4.8%).

1 This classification system is hierarchical and prioritises education-related post-school destinations over participation in employment. As such, it represents a young person’s main destination since leaving school.

2 For an explanation of the difference between an apprenticeship and a traineeship, refer to Benefits of apprenticeships and traineeships on the NSW Department of Education website.

3 Not in the labour force means that a person is not working and not looking for work.

4 A detailed outline of the survey method, including eligibility guidelines and the selection process, can be found in the technical report.


  • Post-school
  • Post-school destinations and expectations
  • Research report

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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