Post-school qualifications, apprenticeships and traineeships

Why are rates of study for qualifications important?

Increasingly, young people are continuing their studies beyond compulsory schooling. Post-school qualifications (also known as non-school qualifications) are an important predictor of an individual’s capacity to compete in demanding labour markets (OECD 2014). Post-school qualifications can be obtained through higher education institutions or vocational education and training institutions.

For young people in particular, apprenticeships and traineeships are an alternative pathway into the labour market, providing an opportunity to acquire essential skills while also participating in the labour force. The combination of on-job and off-job training and employment generally lasts 3 to 4 years for apprenticeships and 1 to 2 years for traineeships.

Post-school qualifications

In 2014, 35% of 15–24 year olds were enrolled in study towards a post-school qualification.  The proportion was higher among 20-24 year olds (42%) than 15-19 year olds (27%) reflecting the high proportion of 15-19 year olds still studying towards school qualifications (see also Notes below). Across the 15-24 year old age group, participation was slightly higher for females (37%) than males (33%).

Of the 15-24 year olds enrolled in study towards a post-school qualification, more than half were studying towards a Bachelor degree or higher (63%), and around one-fifth (20%) towards a Certificate III or IV. Around 11% were studying towards a Diploma or Advanced Diploma. The pattern was similar across the two age groups 15-19 and 20-24, and for males and females (AIHW 2015).

The most popular fields of study among 15-24 year olds for post-school qualifications were management and commerce (21%), society and culture (17%) and engineering and related technologies (13%).

From 2005 to 2014, there has been an increase in the proportion of all young people (aged 15–24) undertaking post-school qualifications (32% to 35%). Over this period, there have been similar trends among males and females (males (31% to 33%) and females (33% to 37%) and among 15–19 year olds (25% to 27%) and 20–24 year olds (38% to 42%).

Apprenticeships or traineeships

In 2013, 7.1% of all young people were undertaking apprenticeships or traineeships. Similar proportions of 15–19 year olds (7.4%) and 20–24 year olds (6.8%) were apprentices/trainees.

The trends in the proportion of young people aged 15–24 undertaking apprenticeships and traineeships have been more variable over this period. From 2004 to 2007, the proportion of young people who were apprentices/trainees increased slightly from 8.3% to 8.7%. This proportion has since declined to 7.1% in 2013. There are similar trends evident for the different young age groups over this period. From 2004 to 2007 the proportion of 15–19 year olds who were undertaking apprenticeships or traineeships increased from 9.1% to 9.7%, whereas the proportion of 20–24 year olds was relatively steady at around 7.5%. These proportions have since decreased to 7.4% of 15–19 year olds and 6.8% of 20–24 year olds in 2013.