Exploring young Australians' pathways from education and training into work

A new report by Ai Group Centre for Education and Training, has taken a deeper look at the real trajectories and early career pathways of young people through data from the Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth (LSAY). This provided us with a rich and nuanced picture of the pathways of a range of young Australians over time. Through these insights, we’re able to identify ways to improve upon the current system and the policy reform required to ensure the skill pipeline delivers for the needs of Australian Industry.

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What pathways are students taking?

  • At 25 nearly half of the respondents (46%) had completed a bachelor’s degree or postgraduate degree. 16% reported no post-secondary qualification.
  • In rough terms, around a half (46%) had a higher education pathway, around a third (38%) a vocational education and training (VET) pathway and a minority (16%) had no post-secondary education.

What does this mean for jobs and skills?

  • The evidence shows that postgraduate and apprentice/trainee pathways are leading to almost full employment at 25.
  • Both these pathways are more specialised or focused, in terms of occupation-specific skills or discipline-specific knowledge. The apprentice/trainee pathway is built on applied learning in a ‘real world’ setting. Similarly, the postgraduate pathway likely involves some work-based learning or experience given the narrowing focus.
  • Given the strong employment outcomes for apprentice/trainee pathways it is surprising (and perhaps concerning) that in our sample only 23% of men and 7% of women completed this type of qualification.
  • Many of the occupations utilising these training pathways are in high demand. There is therefore a strong public policy imperative to grow the number of young Australians choosing these pathways. This would also reduce our reliance on skilled migration.

Skill level alignment between education and work

  • Young people with a high school certificate and those with postgraduate qualifications had the strongest ‘alignment’ between their education and the skill level of their job at 25.
  • Some ‘mismatch’ between education level and skill level of work at 25 can be expected. For most, 25 is the early stages of a career, with many having only recently completed study or training. For these young people, it could be expected that new roles in higher occupation skill levels and closer ‘matches’ with their education level are on the horizon.
  • However, again, we see a similar pattern with strong outcomes at either end of the education spectrum and more mixed results in relation to certificate, diploma and bachelor’s levels.

Satisfaction and Pay

  • Apprentice/trainee qualified workers had the highest average weekly wages at 25.
  • Among our sample, those with apprenticeship/traineeship qualifications reported the highest average weekly wages at 25, although they also worked the most hours. While earning 16% more than their postgraduate counterparts at 25, they also reported working 7 additional hours on average per week.
  • Again, it was apprenticeship/traineeship and postgraduate qualified workers reporting the strongest outcomes at 25.

Explore education to industry employment pathways

Explore job satisfaction by field of education