2015 NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey

This report was originally published 04 March 2016.

Summary

This report presents key findings from the 2015 NSW Survey of Secondary Students’ Post-School Destinations. The survey consisted of cross-sectional telephone interviews with students who in 2014 had completed Year 12 or left school before completing Year 12, as well as follow-up interviews (via online and telephone) with those who took part in the 2014 Survey of Secondary Students’ Post-School Destinations. 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 post-school destination among Year 12 completers surveyed in 2015 continues to be a Bachelor degree (53.2%), while 8.9% had entered a Certificate IV+ course, 4.8% in Certificates I, II or III, 4.7% in apprenticeships and 3.6% in traineeships. The remaining 24.8% of Year 12 completers were not participating in any form of further education. Typically, these Year 12 completers had entered part-time employment (10.7% of all Year 12 completers), but some had entered full-time employment (7.0%), were actively looking for employment (5.0%) or were classified as not in the labour force, education or training (2.1%).

The 2015 survey provides evidence of a continuation in small annual increases in the proportion of Year 12 completers who entered a Bachelor degree. The proportion increased by 0.7 percentage points from 2014 and is 5.8 points higher than 2010. Survey results also suggest the gap between female and male Year 12 completers entering a Bachelor degree – which had appeared to be decreasing since the 2010 survey – has widened in 2015. Further, since 2010 there has been a slight decrease in Year 12 completers entering part-time employment (down 1.8 points). The apparent decrease noted in 2014 in VET course participation (Certificate IV+ and Certificates I-III) was not sustained in 2015 and the proportion not in the labour force, further education or training continued to be higher than seen in 2010.

Initial post-school destinations among early school leavers continue to be substantially different to those who complete Year 12. The most common post-school destination for early school leavers continues to be an apprenticeship (26.0%), while 9.6% had entered a Certificate IV+, 11.3% had entered a Certificate I-III and 5.8% had entered a traineeship. Overall, 46.2% of early school leavers were not participating in any form of further education. Typically, these early school leavers were looking for work (16.4%) or working part-time (12.6%), although 9.7% were working full-time and 7.6% were not in the labour force, education or training. Since the 2014 survey, there appears to have been a slight increase in those entering Certificate IV+ courses (up 1.8 percentage points), along with a larger decrease in those entering Certificates I-III courses (down 3.3 points). The proportion not in the labour force, education or training also remained higher than seen in 2010.

Not in the labour force, further education or training

The main activities of Year 12 completers and early school leavers not in the labour force, further education or training were comparable with 2014 survey results. Among Year 12 completers not in the labour force, further education or training (2.1% of the cohort), the most common main activity related to recreation (51.7%), typically involving travel or a gap year (33.2%), while one-quarter (23.4%) were undertaking informal study or training. Consistent with the idea of taking a ‘gap year’ one-quarter (28.2%) of Year 12 completers indicated they were enrolled in a course, but had deferred it.

The most common main activity among early school leavers not in the labour force, further education or training was also recreation (29.6%). However, the nature of the recreation was quite different to Year 12 completers, with most doing ‘nothing' (21.4%). Other common main activities mentioned were being unable to work due to illness (16.2%), looking after children (or preparing for birth: 15.1%) and undertaking informal studying or training (11.2%). Very few early school leavers (4.6%) not in the labour force, further education or training indicated they were enrolled in a course, but had not yet started it.

Leaving school early

In 2015, early school leavers provided a variety of reasons for why they had left school before completing Year 12, which were broadly consistent with the 2014 survey. The most frequently mentioned reasons related to wanting to pursue employment and career opportunities and 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.

The only substantive change since 2014 was a decrease in mentions of not liking school or teachers (down 3.6 points). Further, there continues to be major differences in the socio-demographic profile and main post-school destination according to the main reason for leaving school.

Career expectations

The career expectations of Year 12 completers and early school leavers continued to be reasonably well aligned with the post-school pathways of each group. A little more than half (56.2%) of all Year 12 completers expected to be working in professional roles by the age of 30. Less than ten percent expected to be working in other occupation categories. By comparison, early school leavers were more likely to expect they would be working in a technical or trade role (33.5%), or community or personal service role (14.2%), but were less likely to expect to be working in a professional role (18.6%).

Since the 2014 survey, there have been a small number of changes in career expectations. These include a slight increase in expectations of working as a social and welfare professional (up 1.8 points) or child carer (up 0.9 points) among Year 12 completers and an increase in expectations of working in professional roles generally (up 3.0 points) or child carer (up 1.1 points) among early school leavers. There was also a slight decrease in expectations to be a school teacher among early school leavers (down 1.1 points).

Destination two years after leaving school

Overall, 63.3% of the Year 12 completer cohort were classified in the same post-school destination as 2014, compared to 43.5% among the early school leavers.

The degree of movement varied considerably by post-school destination. Among Year 12 completers, a Bachelor degree (89% were still undertaking a Bachelor in 2015) and apprenticeship (76%) were the most stable post-school destinations, while among early school leavers, the most stable destination was an apprenticeship (87%). Substantially fewer Year 12 completers and early school leavers who were classified in other post-school destinations in 2014 were undertaking the same activity in 2015. In terms of what they were doing, destinations for Year 12 completers tended to be skewed towards some form of further education, while among early school leavers destinations tended to be more employment focused.

Nearly all of the Year 10 student cohort surveyed in 2014 were still enrolled in secondary school in 2015 (92.9%) and undertaking Year 11 (92.5%).

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