Jobs and Training

Jobs and Training Jon Wundersitz Mon, 11/23/2020 - 13:53

Education and Employment

Education and Employment Jon Wundersitz Mon, 11/23/2020 - 13:58

There are many options when you are leaving school, or are entering or re-entering the workforce at an older age. For some people, the thought of further study is exciting, but for others it isn’t a viable or favoured choice.

  • If you are considering gaining additional qualifications, there are two main training pathways for you to consider.
  • The Vocational Education and Training (VET) system develops workplace-specific skills and knowledge by delivering nationally recognised training. VET includes publicly owned TAFE institutes, private providers (including enterprise and industry providers), community organisations and schools. It provides training for a vast array of occupations, including highly skilled Technician and Trades Worker roles.
  • Australia’s higher education system is made up of universities and other institutions that offer undergraduate degrees and higher qualifications. Higher education is the pathway to a range of jobs, including the most highly skilled Professional occupations.

Employment and training decisions should be based on a variety of factors including aptitude, interests, expectations of pay and working conditions, training and goals.

Educational attainment is rising

The number of people undertaking tertiary training is increasing and more of the workforce now holds post-school qualifications. In 2019, 68% of Australians aged 20 to 64 years held post-school qualifications (up from 60% in 2009), with growth recorded in both VET and higher education qualifications.

Post-school qualifications are beneficial in today’s jobs market

People with higher level qualifications generally have better employment outcomes than those who have not completed further education after leaving school.

Higher qualifications also generally lead to increased real wages. Some lower skilled occupations, though, have relatively high pay, sometimes to compensate for unsociable working hours or difficult working conditions.

What if I don’t complete further education?

Although most new jobs created in recent years (and those expected in the future) are in skilled occupations, there will continue to be large numbers of jobs in lower skilled occupations (that is, jobs which do not usually require post-school qualifications). Lower skilled occupations generally have higher turnover rates than those which require post-school qualifications and many job openings are available each year across all industries.

Significant proportions of Labourers (58%), Sales Workers (56%) and Machinery Operators and Drivers (54%) do not hold post-school qualifications. This includes occupations like General Sales Assistants, Waiters, Checkout Operators and Office Cashiers, and Truck Drivers.

There are opportunities in all industries for people who do not have post-school qualifications. For example, more than half of the jobs in Accommodation and Food Services and Retail Trade are held by workers who do not have such qualifications.

What is needed to gain employment without post-school qualifications?

There is often strong competition for jobs which do not require post-school qualifications. Previous experience is commonly required by employers and this can be a key barrier for new job seekers. There are, though, a number of strategies which can enhance a job seeker’s prospects. These are outlined in the Winning a job section.

Sources: ABS, Characteristics of Employment; ABS, Education and Work.

Education Enrolments

Education Enrolments Jon Wundersitz Mon, 11/23/2020 - 14:06

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

The VET system provides a skilled workforce with nationally recognised qualifications and knowledge-based competencies. Students can enrol in qualifications (with around 2,000 on offer), accredited courses, industry recognised skill sets and units of competency, allowing them to gain the specific skills they need, when they need them. Training takes place in classrooms, workplaces and online, and can be full-time or part-time.

4.2 million vet program enrolments in 2019. Certificate I – 119,200. Certificate II – 394,900. Certificate III – 879,300. Certificate IV – 446,300. Diploma or higher – 379,000. Due to rounding, numbers may not sum to total.


The largest numbers of program enrolments are in the fields of education of Management and Commerce and Society and Culture.

As part of the 4.2 million VET program enrolments in 2019, there were 2.6 million enrolments in stand-alone VET subjects. This training (referred to as subject only training) includes courses that are critical both to employers and the Australian economy. Examples include “construction white cards” for building sites, responsible service of alcohol and first-aid certifications.

Higher Education

Universities offer courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including associate degrees, bachelor degrees, masters and PhD qualifications. The vast majority of students study at the bachelor degree level (71% in 2017). Higher education usually involves a commitment to at least three years of full-time equivalent study to attain a bachelor degree, but many courses involve longer periods of education.

There were 1.09 million domestic students enrolled in higher education in 2019 (up by 34% over the past decade).

What subject areas are available?

The higher education sector provides training in all fields of education, but the largest numbers of enrolments are in Society and Culture (289,100 enrolments in 2019), which is a diverse field of education including studies in law, psychology, human welfare and society, language and linguistics, economics and sport and recreation.

Further information on higher education enrolments can be found at

Higher education enrolments, by field of education

  2017 enrolments
10 year change
Society and Culture 289.1 32.2%
Health 223.3 72.7%
Management and Commerce 183.2 10.3%
Education 115.2 20.2%
Natural and Physical Sciences 104.8 54.3%
Creative Arts 77.3 18.9%
Engineering and Related Technologies 66.0 21.5%
Information Technology 41.5 75.0%
Architecture and Building 28.6 34.6%
Agriculture Environmental and Related Studies 14.5 -4.1%
All fields of education1 1086.1 33.5%

1. Total includes some mixed field and non-award courses

Apprenticeships and traineeships are a form of skills development that combine paid on-the-job work with training. They provide a nationally recognised VET qualification as well as relevant work experience.

Reflecting how highly workplace experience is valued by employers, apprentices and trainees generally have strong graduate employment outcomes.

There were 272,500 apprentices and trainees in-training in March 2020, working across more than 300 different occupations, including many non-trade occupations.

Occupations in which apprentices and trainees most commonly work

67% of apprentices and trainees are in Technicians and Trades Workers. Most common jobs are Electricians, Carpenters and Joiners, Motor Mechanics, Plumbers, and Sheetmetal Trades Workers.

11% of apprentices and trainees are Community and Personal Service Workers. Most common jobs are in Child Care, Hospitality Workers, Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers, Tourism and Travel Advisers, and Welfare Support Workers.

7% of apprentices and trainees are Machinery Operators and Drivers. Most common jobs are in Earthmoving Plant Operators, Storepersons, Truck Drivers, and Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers.

Sources: NCVER, Total VET Students and Courses; NCVER, Apprentices and Trainees; Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Higher Education Statistics

Education Employment Outcomes

Education Employment Outcomes Jon Wundersitz Mon, 11/23/2020 - 14:12

VET graduate employment outcomes

Graphic. 65.8% of VET graduates had an improved employment status after training. Trade apprenticeship or traineeship 86.5% improved employment status. Non-trade apprenticeship or traineeship 71.4% improved employment status. Other training 63.0% improved employment status.

What apprenticeships or traineeships are considered to be trades?

There is a wide range of occupations regarded as trades. Some examples are constructions trades workers, hairdressers, mechanics, metal trades workers, electricians, telecommunications workers, aircraft maintenance engineers, locksmiths, cabinetmakers and chefs.

Graduates in Architecture and building, Education and Engineering and related technology commonly reported employability benefits from their study, with more than 70% of these graduates stating they improved their employment status after training. Information technology and Creative arts graduates reported the least improvement in employment status after graduating (38% and 40% respectively).

Do VET graduates have high earnings?

Workers who hold a VET qualification at the certificate III or higher level generally earn more than those who have not studied after leaving school (see page Education and Employment). In 2019, the median annual income for VET graduates working full-time after completing their training was $59,100. The highest median salaries were for those who studied

  • Engineering and Related Technologies ($67,800)
  • Architecture and Building ($62,600)
  • Management and Commerce ($62,000).
  Improved employment status after training (%) Median annual income
Diploma or higher 67.8 $63,900
Certificate IV 69.8 $68,100
Certificate III 67.1 $52,200
Certificate II 53.7 $52,200
Certificate I 37.0 $53,600

*Income figures are for those employed full-time.

Higher education graduate employment outcomes

While higher level qualifications ultimately improve employment prospects, employment outcomes for students immediately after graduation have weakened over the past decade. Positively, though, outcomes have generally improved over the last five years. In 2019, 72.2% of bachelor degree graduates (available for full-time work) were in full-time employment four months after graduation.

*Full-time employment is a proportion of those available for full-time employment. Part-time employment is a proportion of those available for any employment

Higher education graduate salaries

In 2019, the median annual full-time starting salary for an undergraduate was $62,600.

Postgraduate coursework graduates had a median starting salary of $85,300 and for postgraduate research graduates it was $90,000.

The highest bachelor degree graduate salaries by area of study were

  • Dentistry (median of $88,200)
  • Medicine ($73,100)
  • Teacher education ($68,000).

Sources: NCVER, VET Student Outcomes; ABS, Characteristics of Employment; QILT, Graduate Outcomes Survey