2014 NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey

This report was originally published 08 July 2015.


This report presents key findings from the 2014 Survey of Secondary Students’ Post-School Destinations. The design of the 2014 survey varied from earlier iterations of post-school destination surveys in NSW and involved undertaking surveys with four cohorts across the NSW school system (i.e. both government and non-government schools): early school leavers, Year 12 completers, and Year 10 students and teachers.

The main aim of the survey was to monitor and examine trends in, and correlates of, post-school education, training and employment destinations among secondary school students in NSW.

Main post-school destination

The most common main post-school destination among Year 12 completers in 2014 was a Bachelor degree (52.5%), while 20.3% had entered a VET program; 7.3% were in Certificates IV+, 4.9% in apprenticeships, 4.4% in traineeships and 3.7% in Certificates I-III. Year 12 completers not in further education (27.2% of all Year 12 completers) were typically working part-time (12.5%), although 6.6% were working full-time, 5.5% were looking for work and 2.6% were not in the labour force, education or training.

The main correlates of whether a Year 12 completer entered a Bachelor degree (or not) in the 2014 survey were gender, parental SES, reading and numeracy NAPLAN results, school sector, region, language spoken at home language spoken at home, and participation in a VET or Life Skills course while at school.

Since the 2010 destination survey, there appears to have been an increase (up 5.1 points) in Year 12 completers entering a Bachelor degree. This increase was associated with small decreases in those entering Certificate IV+ courses (down 2.6 points), Certificates I-III (down 2.3 points) courses and fulltime employment (down 2.3 points). Further, there has been a slight increase in those not in the labour force, education or training (up 1.6 points).

Stark differences in the post-school destinations between those who complete Year 12 and those who leave the school system early continue to be evident. Few early school leavers (0.9%) reported studying at a Bachelor degree, while a majority (55.0%) had entered a VET program; typically an apprenticeship (26.2%), although 7.8% had entered a Certificate IV+, 14.6% had entered a Certificate I-III and 6.5% had entered a traineeship. Early school leavers not in further education (37.6% of all early school leavers) were typically looking for work (17.2%) or working part-time (12.2%), although 8.3% were working full-time and 6.4% were not in the labour force, education or training.

Anticipated Year 12 completion – Year 10 student and teacher comparisons

The majority (90.4%) of Year 10 students expect to leave school upon completion of Year 12. Year 10 teachers’ expectations were relatively consistent with that of their students, with teachers expecting on average that about 85.4% of their Year 10 students would complete Year 12.

The main reason Year 10 students gave for expecting to leave school prior to completing Year 12 was for career or work (44.2%). The least enjoyable aspects of school were only seen as partially driving the decision to leave school early among current Year 10 students. Access to VET courses was identified by teachers and students as being something that would encourage Year 12 completion.

The majority (88.8%) of current Year 10 students anticipate they will undertake further study in the first couple of years after leaving school. Three quarters (77.1%) of teachers also believed that current Year 10 students would enter into some kind or study or training upon leaving school. Teachers identified behavioural or additional problems while at school (90.2%) and having little interest in learning (86.8%) as the main risk factors to not making a successful transition from school into further education or employment activities.

The main influencing factors on both school subject choice and career aspirations among Year 10 students are their parents and their teachers. Interest and career aspirations were also identified as significant influences on subject choice by Year 10 students.

Not in the labour force, further education or training

The current circumstances of the small proportion of early school leavers and Year 12 completers who were defined as not being in the labour force, further education or training appear to be quite different.

The main activity of early school leavers not in the labour force, further education or training (6.4%) was diverse. Of those in this small group, the most common activity related to recreation (28.4%), typically 'doing nothing' (15.2%) or unspecified 'recreational activities' (10.7%), while one-fifth (19.0%) were looking after children or preparing for birth. Further, around one-in-ten of these early school leavers had clear pathways into further education (i.e. having deferred a course).

The main activity of Year 12 completers not in the labour force, further education or training (2.6% of the cohort) also related to recreation (45.5%). However, unlike early school leavers, they appear to be engaged in more purposeful activity; typically involving travel or having a 'gap' year (33.2%). Consistent with taking a ‘gap year’ 43.0% indicated they were enrolled in a course, but had deferred it.

Reasons for leaving school early

Early school leavers in the 2014 survey provided a variety of reasons for why they had left school before completing Year 12. The most frequently mentioned individual reasons were wanting to pursue employment or career opportunities and simply not liking school or teachers. Other less frequently cited reasons were not coping at school or failing subjects, school 'not being for them', finding school boring, ill-health, being bullied and wanting to study elsewhere.

There appears to be major differences in socio-demographic profile and main post-school destination according to the main reason for leaving school.

Career aspirations

The career aspirations of early school leavers and Year 12 completers were reasonably well aligned with current post-school pathways of each group. One-third (34.6%) of early school leavers expected to be working in some form of technical or trade related role, while 15.8% expected to be working in professional role and 13.2% in community or personal service roles. By contrast, more than half (53.9%) of all Year 12 completers expected to be working in professional roles by the age of 30.

The range of specific roles mentioned was quite diverse and naturally varied between cohorts according to the prevalence of different major level occupation classifications.

Career advice at school

Nearly all survey cohorts reported having participated in at least one career advice activity through school. Broadly, participation in individual activities appeared to be aligned with the students’ current or potential pathways. Year 12 completers were more likely than early school leavers to report receiving all other types of careers advice, as well as careers activities directly relating to employment and university, but were less likely to report participation in VET-related activities. Year 10 students were less likely to report having participated in activities focused on specific post-school destinations, such as site visits to employers, universities and VET providers.

The majority of early school leavers (61.5%), Year 12 completers (73.1%) and Year 10 students (86.6%) surveyed believed the career guidance they received at school had been useful, although views did vary between the student cohorts.

Return to top of page Back to top