2020 NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey

This report was originally published 26 October 2021.

Destinations of students who completed or left school early in 2019

The NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey collects information about students’ main destination1 in the year after completing Year 12 or leaving school early. The survey provides information on education pathways, attainments and destinations of young people in NSW and informs policy making related to students’ post-school education, training and employment.

In 2020, all students who left school in 2019 before completing Year 12 (known as early school leavers) were invited to complete the survey about their current situation. Among those who finished Year 12, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and students who attended Connected Communities schools were invited to complete the survey. A random sample of non‑Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who completed Year 12 were also invited to participate. A total of 32,306 Year 12 completers and 18,303 early school leavers were invited to take part in the 2020 survey. Responses were received from 18,865 Year 12 completers and 5,978 early school leavers and are analysed in this report2.

Year 12 completers

Just over three-fifths (62.1%) of 2019 Year 12 completers were in some form of education or training in 2020. The main post-school destination for this cohort continued to be a Bachelor degree (45.0%). Just over one-quarter (26.9%) were employed (7.8% full-time and 19.1% part-time), while a smaller proportion were looking for work (7.7%), or not in the labour force, education or training (NILFET*; 3.3%).

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

Early school leavers

Horizontal bar chart showing the percentages of Year 12 completers.

In 2020, the main post-school destinations among 2019 early school leavers were substantially different from Year 12 completers. More than half (51.4%) were undertaking some form of education or training. The most common post-school destination among this cohort was an apprenticeship (27.7%). Just over one-quarter of early school leavers were employed (8.8% full-time and 16.7% part-time), while a smaller proportion were looking for work (17.3%) or NILFET (5.9%).

Year 12 completers – where are they now?

In education or training
Horizontal line chart showing Year 12 completers In education or training from 72.8 percent in 2014 to 62.1 percent in 2020.

Just over three-fifths (62.1%) of Year 12 completers were in education or training in 2020. This is fewer than in each year since 2014. There has been a 3.6 percentage point decrease since 2019.

45.0% Bachelor 5.2%
VET Cert IV+
2.3%
VET Cert III
1.0%
VET Cert I-II
4.8% Apprenticeship 3.7% Traineeship
▼ down 7.5 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 2.1 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 0.4 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 0.8 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 0.1 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 0.7 percentage points since 2014

Bachelor degrees were the most popular destination among Year 12 completers despite being down 7.5 percentage points since 2014.

For those undertaking a bachelor degree or VET certificate

What are they studying?

Females were more likely than males to be studying:

  • health
  • education
  • society and culture.

Males were more likely than females to be studying:

  • engineering and related technologies
  • information technology
  • management and commerce.

The most common study areas by level of course were:

  • Bachelor degree – Society and culture (22.4%).
  • VET certificate IV+ – Creative arts (20.2%).
  • VET certificate III – Education (15.4%).
  • VET certificate I-II – Engineering and related technologies (14.7%).
21.0%
Society and culture
19.7%
Health
18.4%
Management and commerce
▼ down 2.5 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 4.6 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 3.7 percentage points since 2014

For those doing an apprenticeship

What types of apprenticeships?

Females were more likely than males to be undertaking an apprenticeship in:

  • hairdressing.

Males were more likely than females to be undertaking an apprenticeship as an:

  • electrician
  • bricklayer, carpenter and joiner
  • fabrication engineering trades worker.
24.4%
Electricians
18.2%
Bricklayers, carpenters and joiners
8.9%
Fabrication engineering trades workers
▲ up 8.2 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 4.2 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 7.2 percentage points since 2014

For those doing a traineeship

What types of traineeship?

Females were more likely than males to be undertaking a traineeship in:

  • childcare
  • general clerk
  • receptionist
  • personal carer and assistant.
23.9%
Childcare
12.6%
General clerk
9.5%
Sales person or assistant
▲ up 7.1 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 3.2 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 15.0 percentage points since 2014
In employment
Horizontal line chart showing Year 12 completers in part-time work, starting at 12.5 percent in 2014 to 19.1 percent in 2020 and full-time work starting with 6.6 percent in 2014 to 7.8 percent in 2020.

Just over one-quarter (26.9%) of Year 12 completers were employed and not in education in 2020. Participation in full-time and parttime employment has increased since 2014.

7.8%
Full-time work
19.1%
Part-time work
▲ up 1.2 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 6.6 percentage points since 2014
Not in education, training or employment – looking for work
Horizontal line chart showing Year 12 completers not in education, training or employment looking for work starting with 5.5 percent in 2014 to 7.7 percent in 2020.

About one-in-thirteen (7.7%) Year 12 completers were looking for work.

7.7%
Looking for work
▲ up 2.2 percentage points since 2014
Not in education, training or employment – NILFET
Horizontal line chart showing Year 12 completers not in education, training or employment, NILFET starting with 2.6 percent in 2014 to 3.3 percent in 2020.

The proportion of Year 12 completers who were NILFET has increased since 2019.

3.3%
NILFET
▲ up 0.7 percentage points since 2014

For those in employment

What jobs are they doing?

Females were more likely than males to be working as:

  • community and personal services workers
  • sales workers
  • clerical and admin workers.

Males were more likely than females to be working as:

  • labourers
  • machinery operators and drivers
  • technicians and trades workers.
26.3%
Sales workers
25.2%
Community and personal service workers
12.7%
Labourers
▼ down 6.5 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 2.8 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 2.2 percentage points since 2014

For those not in the labour force, education or training

Main reason

Females were more likely than males to report:

  • looking after a child/children as their main reason for not being in the labour force, education or training.

Males were however more likely than females to report:

  • recreational activities and
  • informal study or training as their main reason for not being in the labour force, education or training.
37.7%
Informal study or training
23.6%
Recreation (incl. gap year, nothing)
6.5%
Home duties
▲ up 16.7 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 21.9 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 0.6 percentage points since 2014

For those who deferred further education

Almost one-sixth (15.2%) of Year 12 completers who were NILFET indicated they were enrolled in a course of study but have deferred it. Those who were employed deferred further education at a similar rate:

  • 23.5% full-time employment.
  • 19.2% part-time employment.

Those who were looking for work were less likely to have deferred a course than those who were NILFET (17.7%)

What are the subgroup differences in destinations?

Female students more likely than male students:

  • bachelor degree
  • VET certificate III
  • traineeship
  • part-time work.

Male students more likely than female students:

  • apprenticeship
  • full-time work
  • looking for work
  • NILFET.

Government school students more likely than non-Government school students:

  • VET certificate IV+
  • looking for work
  • VET certificate III
  • NILFET.

Non-government school students more likely than Government school students:

  • bachelor degree.

Higher parental SES3 students more likely than lower parental SES students:

  • bachelor degree.

Lower parental SES students more likely than higher parental SES students:

  • VET certificate IV+
  • full-time work
  • VET certificate III
  • looking for work
  • apprenticeship
  • NILFET.

Students who speak a language other than English at home more likely than those who do not:

  • bachelor degree
  • looking for work
  • VET certificate IV+
  • NILFET.

Students who do not speak a language other than English at home more likely than those who do:

  • VET certificate III
  • full-time work
  • apprenticeship
  • part-time work
  • traineeship.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students more likely than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students:

  • VET certificate III
  • part-time work
  • traineeship
  • looking for work.

Non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students more likely than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students:

  • bachelor degree.

Students living in Greater Sydney more likely than students living in the rest of New South Wales:

  • bachelor degree
  • VET certificate IV+.

Students living in the rest of New South Wales more likely than students living in Greater Sydney:

  • VET certificate III
  • traineeship
  • VET certificate I-II
  • full-time work
  • apprenticeship
  • part-time work.

Early school leavers – where are they now?

In education or training
Horizontal line chart showing early school leavers in education or training starting with 56 percent in 2014 to 51.4 percent in 2020.

Over half (51.4%) of 2019 early school leavers were in education or training in 2020. This is fewer than in 2019 (54.2%).

1.1% Bachelor 5.8%
VET Cert IV+
7.7%
VET Cert III
2.6%
VET Cert I-II
27.7% Apprenticeship 6.4% Traineeship
▲ up 0.2 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 2.0 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 0.1 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 4.4 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 1.5 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 0.1 percentage points since 2014

Apprenticeships continued to be the most popular destination among early school leavers.

For those undertaking a bachelor degree or VET certificate

What are they studying?

Females were more likely than males to be studying:

  • education
  • food hospitality
  • personal services or health.

Males were more likely than females to be studying:

  • information technology
  • engineering and related technologies
  • architecture and building.
14.8%
Creative arts
13.8%
Society and culture
11.7%
Health
▲ up 5.7 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 1.5 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 4.4 percentage points since 2014

For those doing an apprenticeship

What types of apprenticeships?

Females were more likely than males to be undertaking an apprenticeship in:

  • hairdressing.

Males were more likely than females to be undertaking an apprenticeship in:

  • bricklaying
  • carpentry and joinery
  • automotive electricians and mechanics
  • electricians.
19.6%
Bricklaying, carpentry and joinery
14.3%
Automotive electricians and mechanics
12.7%
Electricians
▲ up 1.1 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 0.7 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 3.4 percentage points since 2014

For those doing a traineeship

What types of traineeships?

Females were more likely than males to be undertaking a traineeship as:

  • child carers
  • general clerks
  • sales assistants and salespersons.
26.4%
Childcare
17.3%
Sales person or assistant
7.2%
General clerk
▲ up 11.2 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 7.6 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 0.9 percentage points since 2014
In employment
Horizontal line chart showing early school leavers in part-time work, starting at 12.2 percent in 2014 to 16.7 percent in 2020 and full-time work starting with 8.3 percent in 2014 to 8.8 percent in 2020.

About one-quarter (25.4%) of 2019 early school leavers were employed and not in education in 2020. Participation in part-time employment has increased since 2014 and also increased by 1.5% since 2019.

8.8%
Full-time work
16.7%
Part-time work
▲ up 0.5 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 4.5 percentage points since 2014

Not in education, training or employment – looking for work
Horizontal line chart showing early school leavers not in education, training or employment, looking for work starting with 17.2 percent in 2014 to 17.3 percent in 2020.

Just over one-in-six (17.3%) early school leavers were looking for work, up 0.1 of a percentage point since 2014 and up 1.6 percentage points since 2019.

17.3%
Looking for work
▲ up 0.1 percentage points since 2014
Not in education, training or employment – NILFET
Horizontal line chart showing early school leavers not in education, training or employment, not in the labour force, education or training starting with 6.4 percent in 2014 to 5.9 percent in 2020.

The percentage of 2019 early school leavers who were NILFET is also down since 2014, accounting for about one-in-seventeen (5.9%) early school leavers in 2020.

5.9%
NILFET
▲ up 0.1 percentage points since 2014

For those in employment

What jobs are they doing?

Females were more likely than males to be working as:

  • community and personal services workers
  • sales workers
  • clerical and admin workers.

Males were more likely than females to be working as:

  • labourers
  • technicians and trades workers.
28.7%
Labourers
24.8%
Sales workers
18.2%
Community and personal service workers
▲ up 1.1 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 6.9 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 1.9 percentage points since 2014

For those not in the labour force, education or training

Main reason

Females were more likely than males to report:

  • looking after a children
  • unable to work due to illness
  • on home duties.
20.9%
Recreation (incl. gap year, nothing)
12.1%
Illness or unable to work)
11.2%
Informal study or training
▼ down 7.6 percentage points since 2014 ▲ up 3.1 percentage points since 2014 ▼ down 4.1 percentage points since 2014

For those who deferred further education

One-in-sixteen (6.2%) early school leavers who were NILFET indicated they were enrolled in a course of study but had deferred it.

Varying rates of deferment were found for those in employment or looking for work:

  • 3.1% full-time employment
  • 6.1% part-time employment
  • 7.0% looking for work.

What are the subgroup differences in destinations?

Female students more likely than male students:

  • bachelor degree
  • traineeship
  • VET certificate IV+
  • part-time work
  • VET certificate III
  • NILFET
  • VET certificate I-II.

Male students more likely than female students:

  • apprenticeship
  • full-time work.

Students who left school before the age of 17 years more likely than those who left school aged 17 years or older:

  • apprenticeship.

Students who left school aged 17 years or older more likely than those who left school before 17 years:

  • bachelor degree
  • looking for work
  • full-time work
  • NILFET
  • part-time work.

Government school students more likely than non-Government school students:

  • looking for work.

Non-government school students more likely than Government school students:

  • bachelor degree
  • apprenticeship
  • VET certificate IV+.

Higher parental SES4 students more likely than lower parental SES students:

  • bachelor degree
  • VET certificate III
  • VET certificate IV+.

Lower parental SES students more likely than higher parental SES students:

  • looking for work.

Students who speak a language other than English at home more likely than those who do not:

  • NILFET.

Students who do not speak a language other than English at home more likely than those who do:

  • VET certificate I-II
  • traineeship.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students more likely than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students:

  • looking for work.

Non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students more likely than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students:

  • bachelor degree
  • apprenticeship
  • VET certificate IV+.

Students living in Greater Sydney more likely than students living in the rest of New South Wales:

  • VET certificate IV+.

Students living in the rest of New South Wales more likely than students living in Greater Sydney:

  • full-time work
  • part-time work.

Methodology

This report provides a brief overview of the main findings of the 2020 NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey. Several points should be kept in mind when considering the findings.

A total of ten post-school destinations are defined from responses to a number of items relating to participation in further education and current employment. This classification system is a hierarchical classification system, which prioritises education related post-school destinations over participation in employment. As such, it represents a young person’s main destination since leaving school. A full discussion of the classification system can be found in the technical report.

All data are weighted to match relevant population parameters. Survey weighted multinomial logistic regression analyses have been conducted to assess differences between subgroups and between survey waves using STATA (version 16). Results reported as “different” in the main report or marked with red asterisks in the appendices were statistically significant at p < 0.01. This significance level has been chosen due to the large sample sizes.

In some cases values may differ from the apparent sum of their component elements. This is due to the effects of rounding.

Where appropriate, comparisons have been made to previous waves of this survey. Field of education was coded using Australian Standard Classification of Education (Australian Bureau of Statistics catalogue number 1272.0). Occupation was coded to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (Version 1.3, Australian Bureau of Statistics catalogue number 1220.0).

For further information about the survey background and method, please refer to the 2020 technical report.

1 There are ten main school destinations that relate to further education and current employment. 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 A detailed outline of the survey method, including eligibility guidelines and the selection process can be found in the technical report.

3,4 Parental socio-economic status (SES) is an individual measure of SES derived from students’ recollection of their parent(s) main occupation and highest level of education. Further information about its derivation can be found in the technical report.

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