Melbourne Institute – Applied Economic & Social Research (Julie Moschion, Cain Polidano, Marco Castillo) June 2019.
This study was undertaken for the Australian Government Department of Education and examines the long-term education and labour market outcomes of vocational education and training (VET) programs delivered to secondary school students.
The approach involves tracking students from the 2003, 2006 and 2009 LSAY (Long Survey Australian Youth) cohorts who did and did not participate in upper-secondary school VET for up to seven years after school (across all industry sectors).
- Are there long-running benefits of school-based VET participation?
- Whether participation and benefits vary within the school population, including across different levels of academic achievement, socio-economic background, indigenous status and gender?
- What are the main factors that explain participation in VET delivered in schools?
- Participation in upper-secondary VET programs is associated with an increased likelihood of a successful initial transition from school to the labour market, especially for participation in programs with workplace learning (including apprenticeship/traineeships), the positive employment outcomes, however, only result in higher reported levels of job satisfaction for participants in apprenticeships or traineeship programs.
- On average, the initial post-secondary labour market benefits of participation in upper-secondary school VET shrinks over time and are statistically insignificant by the seventh year out from school. This is most likely due to non-participants, who are more likely to enrol in university, completing their studies and entering the workforce.
- Long-run benefits from VET participation are found to depend on the initial post-secondary pathway. For those who transit to further study after school, the report finds that the labour market advantages for VET with workplace learning (including apprentices/trainees) persists to year seven. For those who transit to the labour market in the year after school, the labour market benefits are short-term only. This may be because the jobs they attain do not offer opportunities to accumulate skills and experiences that would enable them to build on their early advantage.
- On average, the findings presented show no evidence that the long-run benefits of VET study differ by gender, city/rural locations, indigenous or socio-economic status. However, there is still a gender pay gap in “gender-based occupations”.
- The most influential factors associated with school-based VET participation are post-secondary work/study intentions, the availability/quality of VET programs within the school, and academic achievement in the Program for International Study Assessment, (PISA).
- There is no evidence that participation in school-based VET programs is directly associated with other factors such as the socio-economic status of students.
Implications for policy and practice
VET programs in school help to smooth school-to-work transitions, but more can be done to improve outcomes by supporting student access to workplace learning.
Outcomes could be improved by helping students select better programs through the provision of labour market information in school career counselling.
The paper outlines that the VET career pathway with the best outcomes, seven years post school, will comprise;
- Schools that offer and support a good vocational education program;
- Where students receive good career advice and information on employment opportunities and trends;
- With VET study which includes work-place learning that also has real-world experiences and employer connections for students; and
- Students who continue to study or undertake an apprenticeship/traineeship, and upgrade skills post school.
What role can RJSA play?
- Engage with schools to market and support agricultural career path choices that have the best potential outcomes;
- Campaign for high wages and or conditions, to be competitive with other industry sectors;
- Ensure that career information is current, and or looking to the future;
- Market a career in agriculture in a positive light, (counter-balance negative headlines);
- Continue to campaign to fund industry engagement programs in schools and training institutions; and
- Partner with schools to deliver workplace learning opportunities.
To read the report, visit: www.voced.edu.au/content/ngv%3A84594.