This report from Jobs and Skills Australia draws on the complex work they and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) did in linking data across a range of datasets drawn from sources including the ATO, ABS, Dept. of Education, DEWR and NCVER at the VET course level.

It presents findings across four key areas of student outcome:
• Employment – post-study work status and change in status
• Economic – median income and income uplift post-completion
• Social – reduced reliance and exits from income support post-completion, and
• Further study – progression to higher level of VET and higher education post-completion.

The report considers each of these in detail for the top 100 courses, with an additional focus on groups such as females, first nations people and those with a disability as well as highlighting those courses with the best and worst outcomes in each case.

The summary below draws almost exclusively from text in the report, so, thank you to the report’s authors for doing such a great job!

Employment outcomes

Overall, the report found that “completing a VET course produces positive employment outcomes. The percentage of graduates who were employed after completing a VET course was 82.7%. Female students have comparable employment rates of 82.3%, however employment rates were lower for First Nations students (76.3%) and students with disability (61.7%).” That’s a bit of a concern.

In addition, “the courses with the highest levels of employment after training were concentrated in the Engineering and Related Technologies field” which “have seen persistent demand for skilled labour over the years and offer comparatively higher wages.” “Courses in the Health, Society and Culture field also had relatively high levels of employment following completion.”

“Conversely, courses with the lowest employment after training were Mixed Field Programmes and, at the lower end, Certificate I, II and III in Written and Spoken English. However, these courses experience employment rate changes of nearly double the national employment change rate figure, indicating the value of these courses for those entering the workforce with low foundation skills.”

“Courses in Society and Culture, Health, and Education had the highest employment change rates, including Certificate III in Individual Support (34.5 percentage points increase) and Certificate III in early Childhood Education and Care (31.1 percentage points). These fields tend to have a relatively high percentage of female completers, with pathways into careers in demand, such as Aged in Disabled Carers and Child Carers.”

Economic outcomes

“In the 2018-19 financial year, students completing a VET course earned a median annual income of $48,214, and median income uplift of $10,285. Compared to all students, female students experience lower median income ($41,256) but a comparable income uplift. The median annual income of First Nations people is slightly above that of females and the income uplift of $12,198 is higher than the national average. Students with disability have the poorest outcomes, with the median income of $26,769 being significantly lower than the national average.”

“The Engineering and Related Technologies and Management field is well represented in the top courses with the highest median income. Not surprisingly, these courses also tend to have the highest income uplift, with many being Certificate III apprenticeship courses.”

“Courses in the Management and Commerce field, such as the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and Certificate IV in Project Management Practice, are well represented in the top courses with the highest median income. This indicates the role of VET for those who are not only completing a tertiary course for the first time, but for experienced professionals in the workplace to upskill for different roles.”

Social outcomes

Overall, “the percentage of students on income support when they enrolled was 17.7% and the percentage of students on income support after training was 9.4% overall. The income support ‘exit rate’, which is the reduction in income support reliance after training, was 8.3 percentage points.”

“Compared to the national average, there is a higher rate of income support reliance after training for females (12.3%), First Nations students (22.5%) and students with disability (23.7%). However, these cohorts are also likely to experience higher income support exit rates. At the aggregate level, students with disability experience higher exits (26.9% points) from income support after completing a VET course.”

“Courses that had relatively high percentages of students on income support post-training typically also had high income support exit rates. For example, the post-completion income support reliance rate of students in Certificate III in Community Services was 30.2% and the income support exit rate after course completion was 28.3 percentage points. This was a similar story for the top 20 courses across both measures.”

And finally, further study

“Nationally, the percentage of students that commenced further study in VET after completing a VET course was 15.7%, while the progression to higher education was 6.7%. Females had a comparable profile to all students, however for First Nations students and students with disability, a higher proportion progressed to further study in VET.”

“The top courses associated with high transitions to higher education are at the Diploma Level, in fields such as Nursing, Information Technology, Business and Media. Conversely, courses with the lowest progression rates to higher education tend to be in high demand fields with good employment outcomes and high median income, such as Engineering and Related Technologies.”

“Courses with high transitions to further study in VET [also] tend to be associated with foundation skills, such as Certificate I in Spoken and Written English, or have pathways to courses that are industry standard for occupations, such as Certificate III in Fitness. Courses such as Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, Diploma of Beauty Therapy and Diploma of Community Services have low rates of further study in both VET and higher education. This may be because these courses are sufficient to gain and sustain employment in high demand service sector roles.

And overall…

Cohort level results suggest post-completion outcomes for females, First Nations students and students with disability are not on a parity with the national outcomes overall.

“The findings [also] show the diverse nature of VET qualifications and students participating in them, and how courses achieve different outcomes depending on student and labour market needs.”

In addition, they show that “VET qualifications successfully assist people in different transition points in their life, such as young students entering the labour market for the first time by completing apprenticeships to mature students in their 30s completing diploma level qualifications to upskill in a current role or change jobs.”

The appendices

Appendices cover definitions of outcome measures and data sources. Appendix C in particular contains detailed data at the course level which readers may find useful in looking at results related to their industry interests and/or course profile.