Research finds 30,000 pathways from school to jobs

A project mapping the work and study trends of 3.5 million NSW students is helping reveal how decisions in Year 10 can impact future careers.

Image: Career journey: New research shows completing an apprenticeship can increase the chance of earning above the minimum wage by age 24.

An Australian-first data project has identified close to 30,000 different pathways from education to work and the factors that impact employment and earning outcomes, so students can make informed career decisions.

The NSW Government today unveiled the Pathways for the Future Pilot Project Sumary Insights report, which maps the work and study trends of 3.5 million students in senior secondary school through to tertiary study and into employment.

Under the School Success Model schools will be able to track the career pathways of their students. The Department will set targets for schools on their students pathways in 2023.

Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said the findings are a great tool to inform student pathways and will ensure NSW has the highest quality education system to prepare a dynamic and skilled workforce.

“This project is an opportunity for students to see how decisions made in Year 10 can influence their future education and employment and for schools to utilize the data to achieve the best outcomes for their students,” Ms Mitchell said.

“This is also a game changer for students and parents. It means that you can look at the career journeys of people who studied similar subjects in high school and see what employment outcomes it led to.”

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the ground-breaking data found that completing an apprenticeship or traineeship can increase the chance of earning above minimum wage by age 24 by almost 13 percentage points.

“This data will help us make evidence-backed decisions to boost students’ employment prospects when they leave school, whether that’s through a traineeship, a trade or a highly qualified role,” Mr Lee said.

“The data will be used to help address skills shortages and gaps in the education system, while offering young people greater choice by arming them with the tools to make informed decisions on pathways to work.”

“For example, the data showed students who performed well in year 10, who had certain subject patterns in senior secondary school or who completed an apprenticeship and traineeship had significantly higher employment and earning prospects by age 24.”

The project used machine learning to examine de-identified demographic, education, and employment figures from people in NSW aged 15-24 from 1996 to 2016.

The findings from the project will be turned into a data visualisation tool that students can access to see different career paths and the employment prospects it leads to.

More information on the Pathways for the Future Pilot Project and the Summary Insights Report, can be found online.

Key findings:

  • Students who leave school early and continue into vocational education and training (VET) programs with more optimal fields of education and qualification levels can be just as likely to earn above minimum wage compared to Year 12 completers.
  • Vocational education and training delivered to secondary students is proven to have a positive impact on student retention and employment outcomes.
  • Completing an apprenticeship or traineeship can increase the chance of earning above minimum wage by age 24 by almost 13 percentage points.
  • For some occupations, VET and university study options lead to similar employment outcomes at age 24.
  • The chances of earning above the minimum wage at age 24 can vary significantly by university field of education. For example, 40 percent for creative arts versus 67 percent for nursing.

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