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Skills and Capability5.1 Education and Workforce

5.1.1 Proportion of population (aged 15-74) with educational attainment by level of qualification

The progression from secondary education to both tertiary academic studies and vocational qualifications is an important transition towards the formation of specialised skills and capabilities in a variety of fields and disciplines. The four most commonly attained qualifications — Year 10 or below, Year 12 or equivalent, Certificate III/IV and Bachelor degree — are all represented in roughly equal proportions of the adult population with an education (between 17 and 19 per cent in 2019). The change from 2009 to 2019 has generally been of benefit to skill formation in the economy, with fewer adults terminating their education after Year 10 or below or Year 12 or equivalent and more of them continuing on to complete a Certificate III/IV or higher levels of qualification. The highest levels of qualification such as a Postgraduate degree are still relatively less common (6.8 per cent of the adult population with an education in 2019) although this has also increased notably since 2009.[115]

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5.1.2 Proportion of persons (aged 15-74) with non-school qualifications by field of study

Students’ choice of field of study may be guided by many factors, including personal aspirations; previous experience; education assessment results; or perceptions of future employment prospects. In 2019, the top three successfully attained fields of study represented in the adult population with non-school qualifications in Australia were Management and commerce (23.3 per cent), Engineering and related technologies (16.5 per cent) and Society and culture (14.7 per cent). The proportions of different fields of study represented in the adult population with non-school qualifications remained broadly constant between 2015 and 2019.[116]

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5.1.3 Number of persons studying for a non-school qualification by field of study

Management and commerce as a field of study is attracting the most non-school students (around 443,000 in 2018), and has done consistently since 2015. This is followed by Society and culture (just over 329,000) and Engineering and related technologies (299,000) which frequently switch between second and third place. Other popular fields include Architecture and building (161,000), Health (135,000), Food, hospitality and personal services (129,000) and Education (119,000). Overall non-school numbers have shrunk over the years from nearly 2.4 million in 2015 to just over 2 million in 2018.[117]

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5.1.4 Apprentices and trainees (aged 15-64) by occupation

A complex economy presupposes that diverse skills and capabilities are applied creatively to solving human problems. This is true of both academic and vocational qualifications; particularly apprentices and trainees. Among those who identified as being an apprentice or trainee in 2019 the most common occupation was Construction (56,000). Besides being the most commonly reported occupation, Construction numbers rose between 2014 and 2018 (from 44,000 in 2014, to 59,000 in 2018) and fell slightly in 2019. Other popular occupations include Automotive and engineering and Electrotechnology and telecommunications (46,000 and 39,000 respectively). Together with Construction, these three occupations have occupied the top 3 positions since 2013.[118] The National Centre for Vocational Education Research Apprentices and Trainees statistical collection reports more people undertaking apprenticeships and traineeships than the ABS Survey of Education and Work.

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5.1.5 Apprentices and trainees (in training) by employer industry

Vocational study is most effective when students can work in the same field as their studies. The great majority of apprentices and trainees work in the Construction industry (89,000 in 2019). This has been the most popular industry of employment since at least 2008, and the only employer industry not to shrink significantly over this period. Administrative and Support Services is currently the third most popular employer industry (27,000), and has held a place in the top 5 industries since 2008. Manufacturing was the second most popular employer industry from 2008 to 2015, but now occupies fourth place (23,000).[119] The National Centre for Vocational Education Research Apprentices and Trainees statistical collection reports more people undertaking apprentices and trainees than the ABS Survey of Education and Work statistical collection.

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