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Research Developments from ACER

Vocational & Adult

Destinations of Victorian school leavers

The latest survey of Victorian school leavers has revealed that the number of students who go on to bachelor degree study has been steadily increasing over the past decade.

Led by ACER researchers Sheldon Rothman and Catherine Underwood, the 2012 On Track survey reports on the pathways to further education, training or employment of Year 10 to 12 government and non-government school students. Conducted annually since 2003, the On Track survey of school leavers provides valuable insights into post-school destinations and pathways.

Over the 10 years of the the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s On Track survey, the percentage of Year 12 or equivalent completers who went on to bachelor degree study has increased, from 41.6 per cent in 2003 to 52.2 per cent in 2012.

More than 33 000 Year 12 or equivalent completers and more than 3500 early leavers from 2011 were surveyed by telephone in April and May 2012, accounting for nearly 64 per cent of all Year 12 or equivalent completers. Year 12 or equivalent completers are defined as those who completed the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), International Baccalaureate (IB) or Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) at Intermediate or Senior level in schools, TAFE institutions or adult and community education providers. Early school leavers are those who left school before completing one of these qualifications.

More than three quarters of 2011 Victorian Year 12 or equivalent completers continued in some form of education or training in 2012. The most common activity was study towards a bachelor degree (52 per cent), followed by certificate-level study (17.5 per cent), and apprenticeship or traineeship (8 per cent).

Young women more frequently than young men entered bachelor degree study (54.7 per cent compared to 48.9 per cent). Young men much more frequently than young women entered an apprenticeship (8.7 per cent compared to 1.5 per cent), and young women more frequently than men entered a traineeship (3.7 per cent compared to 2.5 per cent).

Year 12 or equivalent completers from the highest socioeconomic status (SES) quarter were more frequently enrolled in a bachelor degree (60.5 per cent). Completers from the lower SES quarters were more frequently enrolled in certificate level courses than were those from higher quarters (22.5 per cent from the lowest quarter and 14 per cent from the highest). Completers from the lower SES quarters were more frequently in the labour market than those from the highest quarter.

One-fifth of respondents said they speak a language other than English at home. The three most common language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE) were Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin. Among LBOTE speakers, 67.3 per cent were enrolled in a bachelor degree program. This is higher than the 52 per cent of all Year 12 or equivalent completers studying towards a bachelor degree.

Most of the Year 12 completers not in education or training were working either full time (6.9 per cent) or part time (10.6 per cent). Just over four per cent were unemployed and 0.9 per cent not in the labour force, education or training.

Of those who left school early, 94.8 per cent were in some form of education or training or had entered the labour market and were either employed or looking for work. The remaining 5.2 per cent were not in the labour force, education or training. More than 60 per cent of early school leavers were males.

On Track provides detailed analyses of the transitions experienced by different groups of school leavers that education providers can use to monitor and improve their programs. The project also provides a referral service for school leavers who appear to be experiencing difficulties in the transition process. ■

Read the full report:
The On Track Survey 2012: The Destinations of School Leavers in Victoria: Statewide Report is available at <>

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