2022 NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey

This report was originally published 19 December 2023.


The annual NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey (Destinations survey) collects information about where school leavers from NSW Government, Catholic or independent schools are, 6 to 12 months in the year after leaving school. The Destinations survey has been conducted since 2014 and unpacks information on educational pathways, attainments and destinations of young people in NSW, and informs policymaking related to students’ post-school education, training and employment. Results from the Destinations survey are also used to support program evaluation relating to post-school destinations of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students.

The NSW Department of Education considers school-to-work transition as one of the most important transitional experiences, particularly with respect to future employment outcomes. The department provides a range of programs and initiatives to ensure young people are prepared for higher education, training and work. Almost all secondary schools provide work-readiness training and opportunities for students to participate in work experience.

This report describes the findings from the 2022 survey which was conducted between July and November 2022. NSW school leavers who completed Year 12 in 2021 (Year 12 completers) or who left school in 2021 while they were in Year 10, 11 or 12 (early school leavers) participated in the survey.

There were 10 main school destinations that relate to further education and current employment: bachelor’s degree, vocational education and training (VET) certificate IV+, VET certificate III, VET certificate I–II, apprenticeship, traineeship, full-time work, part-time work, looking for work, and not in the labour force or further education or training (NILFET).1

Key results from the 2022 Destinations survey include:

  • Of the 89,083 NSW school leavers in scope for this survey, 9 in 10 school leavers were estimated to be in education, training or employment in 2022.2
  • After a notable drop in 2020 due to the pandemic, 2 years after this, the proportion of school leavers in education, training or employment has recovered and exceeded previous years.
  • A higher proportion of Year 12 completers were in education or training than early school leavers and a slightly higher proportion of early school leavers were looking for work than Year 12 completers, with both leaver types having similar proportions in employment-only destinations over time, including 2022.
  • The lowest proportion of early school leavers were looking for work or NILFET in 2022 than previous years, reducing by 6.3 and 2.8 percentage points (pp) respectively since 2014. Simultaneously, the highest proportion of early school leavers in employment-only destinations was in 2022 in comparison to previous years.
  • The most common study areas in the education categories were:
    • bachelor’s degree – health (22.1%)
    • VET certificate IV+ – creative arts (18.0%)
    • VET certificate III – health (16.8%)
    • VET certificate I–II – health (17.5%).
  • Approximately one-quarter of Year 12 completers and early school leavers were employed and not in education or training in 2022.

School leavers in post-school destinations in 2022 were not impacted by COVID-19 to the extent that school leavers in post-school destinations during 2020 and 2021 were, with around 1 in 4 school leavers in post-school destinations in 2020 noting COVID-19 impacted their planned destination.3 For example, some of these school leavers reported an inability to find a job and working fewer hours than normal. Students who left school in 2019 experienced their first post-school year in 2020 when COVID-19 began. This included periods of strict lockdowns and loss of work. Students who left in 2020 and experienced their first post-school year in 2021 underwent lockdown during their final year of school and a further lockdown at the time of the Destinations survey. Unlike these cohorts, 2022 post-school destinations experienced a post-pandemic shift which saw a recovering economy and labour market, changes in education delivery and the impacts of the reopening of international borders.

Improvements in post-school outcomes of school leavers who participated in the 2022 Destinations survey indicate a potential post-pandemic recovery. These improvements were evident across equity groups within NSW (refer to the 2022 Destinations fact sheets) and in comparison to the Destinations survey results from previous years.

Most school leavers continued to remain in education, training or employment after leaving school. The NSW education sector has demonstrated resilience with the proportion of school leavers in post-school destinations having recovered or exceeded the notable drop following the pandemic.

The data collected through this survey is essential for policy development, changes, and fulfilling our Australian Government obligations to report on the destinations of early school leavers and Year 12 completers. This information, combined with the actual destinations these students opt for, will help the NSW education sector to prioritise the type of support to be provided to students in Years 10, 11 and 12, to set them up for life ahead.

1 This classification system is hierarchical and prioritises education-related post-school destinations over participation in employment (unless employed as an apprentice or trainee). As such, it represents a young person’s main destination since leaving school. 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. 'Not in the labour force' means that a person is not working and not looking for work.

2 Refer to the 2022 NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey technical report for more information on estimates.

3 CESE (Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation), ‘Impacts of COVID-19 on recent school leavers’ post-school destinations’, 2020 NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey fact sheets, NSW Department of Education, 2021.


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

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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