2016 NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey

This report was originally published 07 April 2017.

Image: 2016 NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey

Summary

This report presents key findings from the 2016 NSW Survey of Secondary Students’ Post-School Destinations. The survey consists of cross-sectional telephone interviews with students who completed Year 12 (n=3,287) or left school before completing Year 12 (n=3,700) in 2015. It also includes a longitudinal survey consisting of follow-up interviews (via online and telephone) with Year 12 completers (n=1,343), early school leavers (n=1,523) and Year 10 students (n=1,564) who took part in the 2014 NSW Survey of Secondary Students’ Post-School Destinations and who had completed further follow-up interviews in 2015.

The main aim of the survey is 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

In 2016, 70.2% of Year 12 completers and 54.3% of early school leavers were in some form of education and training six months after leaving school.

Among Year 12 completers, the main post-school destination continues to be a Bachelor degree (51.2%), while 6.5% had entered a Certificate IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma, 2.7% in a Certificate I, II or III, 5.5% in an apprenticeship and 4.3% in a traineeship. The remaining 29.8% of Year 12 completers were not participating in any form of further education and training. Typically, these Year 12 completers had entered full-time (8.6% of all Year 12 completers) or part-time (13.2%) employment, while 5.2% were looking for work and 2.8% were not in the labour force, education or training.

Since 2015, there has been a 5.0 percentage point decrease in Year 12 completers entering some form of education and training, which is now at its lowest point in the time series. This trend is associated with a decline in Year 12 completers entering a Certificate IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma (down 2.4 points since 2015), or Certificates I, II or III course (down 2.1 points). The pattern of small annual increases (although not statistically significant from year to year) in the percentage of Year 12 completers entering a Bachelor degree since the 2010 survey appears not to have continued. The 2016 result was 2.0 percentage points lower than seen in 2015.

Initial post-school destinations among early school leavers continue to be very different to those who complete Year 12. The most common post-school destination for early school leavers continues to be an apprenticeship (27.8%), while 9.1% had entered a Certificate IV+, 9.6% had entered a Certificate I-III and 6.5% had entered a traineeship. Overall, 45.7% of early school leavers in 2016 were not participating in any form of further education. These early school leavers were typically looking for work (15.3%) or working part-time (13.5%) or working full-time (10.1%). A few (6.9%) were not in the labour force, education or training.

The main post-school destination of early school leavers in 2016 was comparable to earlier surveys in the time series. The only notable trend was a continued decline in the proportion of early school leavers participating in Certificate I-III courses (down 9.8 percentage points since 2010). The proportion not in the labour force, education or training has remained higher than seen in 2010.

Not in the labour force, education or training

The main activities of Year 12 completers and early school leavers not in the labour force, education or training (NILFET) were comparable with previous years of the survey.

Among Year 12 completers not in the labour force, education or training (2.8% of the cohort), the most common main activities related to recreation (41.3%) – typically framed as travelling or having a ‘gap’ year (25.4%) and undertaking informal studying or training (28.2%). Reinforcing the finding that many were having a ‘gap year’, one-quarter (27.4% of the NILFET respondents) were enrolled in some form of education or training, but had deferred it.

Main activities among early school leavers not in the labour force, further education or training in 2016 were more diverse than seen among Year 12 completers. The most common activities were undertaking some form of informal studying or training (17.0%), recreation (16.3%), being unable to work due to illness (14.1%), performing home duties (13.7%) and looking after children / preparing for birth (13.2%). Few (3.8%) early school leavers not in the labour force, further education or training were enrolled in a course, but had not yet started it.

Reasons for leaving school early

The most common self-reported reasons for leaving school early in 2016 continued to relate 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.

Self-reported reasons for leaving school were largely comparable to previous surveys in the time series. The only significant changes noted were slight decreases in mention of wanting to pursue employment and career opportunities and not liking school / teachers, as well as slight increases in mention of looking / transitioning to other educational opportunities and school not being for them.

Career expectations

School leavers’ expectations about their future career paths continue to be reasonably well aligned with their current post-school pathways and broadly consistent with previous years in the time series.

Year 12 completers typically expected to be working in professional roles by age 30 (56.4%). Fewer than one-in-ten expected to be working in other occupation categories and one-fifth (18.6%) did not know what career they expected to have at age 30. By comparison, early school leavers were more likely to expect they would be working in a technical or trade role (35.1%), or community or personal service role (12.9%) at age 30. About one-fifth expected to be working in a professional role (17.9%) or do not know what career they expected to have (22.7%).

Destination three years after leaving school

Among the longitudinal Year 12 completer cohort, two-thirds (60.2%) were participating in the same post-school destination as 2014. The main changes seen among the cohort related to an overall decrease in participation in Certificate IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma courses, Certificate I-III courses and those looking for work since 2014, but an increase in full-time employment.

The longitudinal early school leaver cohort continues to be much less likely than the Year 12 completer cohort to have remained in the same post-school destination (38.1%). Since the 2014 survey, there has been a sharp decrease in participation in Certificate I-III courses and those looking for work, but a significant increase in participation in Bachelor degrees and full-time employment.

The majority of the 2014 Year 10 student cohort was still enrolled in secondary school (90.1%) and undertaking Year 12 (89.7%) in 2016, while one-in-ten had left school early (9.9%). Their reasons for leaving school early were broadly consistent with results from the cross-sectional surveys.

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