Impacts of COVID-19 on recent school leavers’ post-school destinations

This report was originally published 26 October 2021.

This fact sheet provides a high-level overview of findings from the 2020 NSW Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey. Of those recent school leavers who answered the survey:

  • 1,319 early school leavers
  • 1,092 Year 12 completers

were asked to answer a series of themed questions about the impacts of COVID-19 on their post‑school destinations to inform this fact sheet.

Did COVID-19 impact recent school leavers’ post-school destinations?

Pie chart showing reported impact of COVID-19 on school leavers post-school destinations. 73.2 percent reported that COVID-19 did not impact their post-school destinations, with 24.4 percent reporting that it did. 2.4 percent answered other.
Image: Around one-quarter of recent school leavers reported that their post-school destination had changed as a result of COVID-19.

COVID-19 impacted recent school leavers’ post-school destinations similarly, regardless of whether they were:

  • An early school leaver (22.2% changed their destination as a result of COVID-19) or a Year 12 completer (26.9% changed their destination as a result of COVID-19)
  • Male or female (23.2% vs. 25.8%)
  • From a lower parental SES* other** background or a higher parental SES background (22.2% vs. 25.5%)
  • From Greater Sydney or the Rest of NSW (24.5% vs. 24.3%).

* SES means socio-economic status.
** Other includes students who reported that they did not know, provided another answer or refused to answer.

The top 5 ways in which COVID-19 changed recent school leavers’ plans:
  1. Inability to find a job (22.5%)
  2. Working in a job when they did not expect to be (16.3%)
  3. Course, traineeship or apprenticeship changed to remote learning (11.6%)
  4. Worked fewer hours than normal (9.0%)
  5. Studying, undertaking a traineeship or apprenticeship when they did not expect to be (4.8%).

Impacts of COVID-19 on recent school leavers’ future career opportunities

Pie chart showing the reported type of impact of COVID-19 on school leavers future career opportunities. 45 percent believed that COVID-19 will have a negative impact on these opportunities, while 27 percent believed it will have no impact, 15 percent believed a positive impact and 13 percent answered other.
Image: 45% of recent school leavers believed that COVID-19 will have a negative impact on their career opportunities in the future.

Early school leavers were more likely to believe that COVID-19 would have no impact. Year 12 completers were more likely to believe that COVID-19 would have a positive impact or a negative impact.

A horizontal bar chart showing that of early school leavers in 2020, 40 percent believed COVID-19 would have a negative impact on their future career opportunities, 34 percent believed it would have no impact, 13 percent believed it would have a positive impact, and 13 answered other.
Image: Early school leavers
A horizontal bar chart showing that of Year 12 completers in 2020, 51 percent believed COVID-19 would have a negative impact on their future career opportunities, 18 percent believed it would have no impact, 18 percent believed it would have a positive impact, and 13 percent answered other.
Image: Year 12 completers

Males were more likely to believe that COVID-19 would have no impact. Females were more likely to believe that COVID-19 would have a negative impact.

Horizontal bar chart showing that of male school leavers in 2020, 42 percent believed COVID-19 would have a negative impact on their future career opportunities, 32 percent believed it would have no impact, 14 percent believed it would have a positive impact, and 13 percent answered other.
Image: Males
Horizontal bar chart showing that of female school leavers in 2020, 49 percent believed COVID-19 would have a negative impact on their future career opportunities, 21 percent believed it would have no impact, 17 percent believed it would have a positive impact, and 13 percent answered other.
Image: Females

Lower parental SES students were more likely to believe that COVID-19 would have no impact. Higher parental SES students were more likely to believe that COVID-19 would have a negative impact.

Horizontal bar chart showing that of lower parental SES students, 41 percent believed COVID-19 would have a negative impact on their future career opportunities, 31 percent believed it would have no impact, 15 percent believed it would have a positive impact, and 13 percent answered other.
Image: Lower parental SES
Horizontal bar chart showing that of higher parental SES students, 49 percent believed COVID-19 would have a negative impact on their future career opportunities, 24 percent believed it would have no impact, 16 percent believed it would have a positive impact, and 11 percent answered other.
Image: Higher parental SES

Students in regional NSW were more likely to believe that COVID-19 would have no impact.

Horizontal bar chart showing that for students in regional NSW, 43 percent believed that COVID-19 would have a negative impact on their future career opportunities, 30 percent believed it would have no impact, 15 percent believed it would have a positive impact, and 13 percent answered other.
Image: Regional NSW
Horizontal bar chart showing that for students in Greater Sydney, 47 percent believed that COVID-19 would have a negative impact on their future career opportunities, 24 percent believed it would have no impact, 16 percent believed it would have a positive impact, and 13 percent answered other.
Image: Greater Sydney
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