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Education and Work, Australia

Survey data over time on current or recent study, educational attainments, and employment

Reference period
2019

Key statistics

  • 66% of people aged 15-64 years were fully engaged in work and/or study.
  • 19% of those aged 15-64 were currently studying (3.2 million people).
  • 59% of school leavers were enrolled in further study (176,900 people). 
  • 68% of people aged 20-64 years had a non-school qualification.

Main features

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Engagement in employment and/or education

Key statistics

  • The vast majority of young Australians (aged 15-24 years) were doing at least some work or study or a combination of both (92% or 3.0 million people).
  • Four in five working age Australians (aged 15-64 years) were engaged in work and/or study (83% or 13.6 million people). This includes people who were either fully engaged or partially engaged.
  • In this age group, it was more common for men (78%) than women (53%) to be fully engaged (that is, working full-time, studying full-time, or working and studying), however rates for young men and women (15-24 years) were more similar (83% compared with 79%).
     

Young Australians (aged 15-24 years)

  • Four in five young Australians (81%) were fully engaged in work and/or study (including those still in school), and a further 11% were partially engaged.

  • Around 8.7% of young men and 8.1% of young women were not engaged in any work or study in 2019. Differences in rates of non-engagement for young men and women have been converging since 2004 as young women have increased their engagement (see Table 34 in the Data downloads section for more detail).
     
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  • Young people living outside major cities were less likely to be fully engaged in work and/or study. Around 83% of young people in major cities were fully engaged, but this dropped to 74% in inner regional areas and 72% in outer regional and remote areas.
     
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  • Since 2010, the proportion of young people fully engaged in work and/or study has been consistently higher in major cities than in regional and remote Australia. (Remoteness time series available from 2010).
     
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Young Australians not in school (aged 17-24 years)

  • Three-quarters (74%) of Australians aged 17-24 years who were not still at school were fully engaged in work and/or further study.
  • Around 36% were in full-time work, and a further 36% were in full-time study.
  • The Australian Capital Territory had the highest rate of full engagement for this group (83%), followed by Victoria (79%) (see Table 33 in the Data downloads section for more detail).
     

​​​​​​​Working age Australians (aged 15-64 years)

  • Including people still at school, two-thirds of Australians aged 15 to 64 years were fully engaged in work and/or study (66%).
  • From the age of 20, it was more common for men to be fully engaged in work and/or study than women (see Table 32 in the Data downloads section for more detail).
     
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Current study

Key statistics

  • Three in five (59%) of the 3.2 million working age Australians who were studying in 2019 were also employed.
  • Overall, 12% of men and 16% of women in this age group were studying for a non-school qualification.
  • Close to two-thirds (63%) of young Australians (aged 15-24 years) were currently studying.
     

Enrolled in study (people aged 15-64 years)

  • Around 18% of men and 21% of women aged 15-64 years were enrolled in study in 2019.
  • One in five apprentices or trainees were women (21%), compared with 58% of people studying for a bachelor degree or above.
  • Around 1.4 million people were studying at higher education institutions and over half a million (517,800) were studying at technical and further education (TAFE) institutions.
  • Close to two-thirds of these students (68%) were studying full-time.
  • See Tables 1, 2, 5, 8, 19 and 21 in the Data downloads section for more detail.
     
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School study (people aged 15-19 years)

  • 868,000 people aged 15 to 19 years were enrolled in school study in 2019, ranging from 99% of 15 year olds to 11% of 18-19 year olds. Around two-thirds of these students went to a government school (59%).
     
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  • 163,700 students were doing vocational education and training (VET) as part of their school studies (54% male and 46% female), with 52,000 of these doing school-based apprenticeships or traineeships.
  • See Table 7 in the Data downloads section for more detail.
     

Non-school study (people aged 15-64 years)

  • Two in five people aged 15-64 years who were studying for a non-school qualification were doing bachelor degrees (39%), while 19% were doing post-graduate studies (including graduate diplomas and certificates), and 22% were studying for a certificate III or IV.
  • The most popular two fields of non-school study were management and commerce, and society and culture (both 21%), followed by health (15%) (see Table 6 in the Data downloads section for more detail).
  • Of the 459,500 people who were studying science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields in 2019, three-quarters were men (74%). A further 474,800 people were studying the STEM-related fields of architecture and building, and health. While architecture and building students reflected the gender split of students in STEM fields (74% men, 26% women), this was reversed for health students where 71% were women.
     
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  1. Refer to the glossary for more detail on STEM and STEM-related fields.
     

Younger students (aged 15-24 years)

  • There were just over 2 million young Australians (aged 15-24 years) enrolled in study in 2019 (including school study) (see Table 21 in the Data downloads section for more detail).
  • Just over 1.1 million were studying for a certificate III or above (see Table 22 for more detail).
  • More young women were studying at higher education institutions (46% compared with 37% of young men), while more young men were studying at TAFE institutions (15% compared with 9% of young women).
     

School leavers (aged 15-20 years)

  • There were 298,700 people aged 15 to 20 years who were enrolled in secondary school in 2018 but were not enrolled in May 2019.
  • Four in five of these school leavers (81%) had completed year 12 or equivalent, and 59% were currently enrolled in further study.
  • Of the school leavers who were not studying, 37% were unemployed, 35% were employed part-time and 24% were employed full-time.
  • See Table 17 in the Data downloads section for more detail.
     

Apprentices and trainees (aged 15-64 years)

  • In May 2019, there were 216,200 people aged 15 to 64 years who were employed as apprentices or trainees, up from 196,100 in 2018. The majority were male (79%).
  • 104,800 people had commenced their apprenticeship or traineeship in the last 12 months.
  • Most apprentices and trainees were born in Australia (89%), and nearly two-thirds (59%) were located in capital cities.
  • See Table 19 in the Data downloads section for more detail.

Non-school qualifications

Key statistics

  • In 2019, around two-thirds (68%) of Australians aged 20-64 years had a non-school qualification (a certificate, diploma or degree).
  • A third (33%) of people in this age group had a bachelor degree or above (36% of women and 29% of men).
  • Around three-quarters (77%) of people aged 15-74 years with a non-school qualification were employed, compared with 56% of people this age with no non-school qualifications.
     

Non-school qualifications

  • Two-thirds of Australians aged 20 to 64 years had a non-school qualification (68% or 10.1 million people).
  • In the older age groups (55-64 years), more men had non-school qualifications, however this was reversed for younger men and women (see Table 24 in the Data downloads section for more detail).
     
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  • The rise in younger women's attainment has narrowed the overall gap between men and women over the past 15 years.
     
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Attainment by level and field (people aged 15-74 years)

  • Around 42% of women aged 15-74 years had a diploma or above, compared with 34% of men this age. More men than women had a certificate I-IV as their highest level of educational attainment (24% compared with 16%) (see Table 10 for more detail).
  • For almost a quarter of people aged 15-74 years with a non-school qualification, the main field of study of their highest qualification was management and commerce (23%), followed by engineering and related technologies (17%), and studies in society and culture (15%) (see Table 16 for more detail).
     
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Non-school qualifications and employment

  • Employment rates were higher for people with non-school qualifications. Around three-quarters (77%) of people aged 15-74 years with non-school qualifications were employed, compared with 56% of those without a non-school qualification.
  • Around 68% of employed people aged 15-74 years had a non-school qualification, compared with 52% of unemployed people and 43% of those not in the labour force.
  • See Table 10 in the Data downloads section for more detail.
     

Non-school qualifications and occupation

  • Professionals had the highest rate of non-school qualifications, but at least two in five people aged 15-74 years in every occupation had a non-school qualification.
  • More female than male community and personal service workers had non-school qualifications, while more male than female sales workers had non-school qualifications.
     
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Data downloads

Tables 1-20 Education and work

Table 21 Current study - persons aged 15-64 years, 2004 to 2019

Table 22 Current study for a non-school qualification at Certificate III level or above - persons aged 15-64 years, 2004 to 2019

Table 23 With or studying towards a non-school qualification - persons aged 20-64 years, 2004 to 2019

Table 24 Non-school qualification - persons aged 20-64 years, 2004 to 2019

Table 25 Highest non-school qualification (Certificate III level or above) - persons aged 20-64 years, 2004 to 2019

Table 26 Highest non-school qualification (Bachelor Degree level or above) - persons aged 20-64 years, 2004 to 2019

Table 27 Non-school qualification by age and sex, 1982 to 2019

Table 28 Highest non-school qualification by age and sex (Bachelor Degree level or above) - 1982 to 2019

Table 29 Educational attainment, Year 12 (or equivalent) - persons aged 15-64 years, 2004 to 2019

Table 30 Educational attainment, Year 12 (or equivalent) or non-school qualification at Certificate II level or above - persons aged 15-64 years, 2004 to 2019

Table 31 Educational attainment, Year 12 (or equivalent) or non-school qualification at Certificate III level or above - persons aged 15-64 years, 2004 to 2019

Table 32 Fully engaged in employment or study - persons aged 15-64 years, 2004 to 2019

Table 33 Fully engaged in employment or study by age - persons not in school study aged 15-24 years, 2004 to 2019

Table 34 Level of highest educational attainment by engagement in employment or study - persons aged 15–24 years, 2004 to 2019

Data item list

Survey material

Questionnaire