Youth participation in education

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					  Youth participation in education
                 and training, and factors
                   affecting participation

          A review
       of resource
    literature and
policy documents




   Supporting the forum
   discussion document:
Youth Participation
        in Education




     by Hazel Baynes,
    Sue Kilpatrick and
Joan Abbott-Chapman
Youth      participation in education
            and training, and factors
              affecting participation

                 A review of resource literature
                         and policy documents




           Supporting the forum discussion document:
               Youth Participation in Education

             By Hazel Baynes,Sue Kilpatrick and Joan Abbott-Chapman
               Centre for Research and Learning in Regional Australia,
                                                University of Tasmania
                                                          March 2002



   For the Tasmanian Office of Post Compulsory Education and Training
    Contents
                                                                                Page


           Introduction                                                          3
           1.     Overall participation in education and training                3
                  i)     State comparison                                        3
                  ii)    International comparison                                3
                  iii)   Asia-Pacific region comparison                          5


           2.     School participation                                           5
           3.     VET participation                                              5
           4.     Higher education participation                                6
           5.     Participation in employment only                              6
           6.     Participation in both education and employment                7
           7.     Non-participation in education or employment                  7
           8.     Targets for post-compulsory participation                      8
           9.     Factors affecting participation in education and training     9
                  i)     Early school leaving                                    9
                  ii)    Socio-economic background                              11
                  iii)   Young people’s attitudes and aspirations               13
                  iv)    Gender                                                 13
                  v)     Indigenous Australians                                 14
                  vi)    Non-English-speaking background                        15
                  vii)   Rural and regional issues                              15
                  viii) Students with disabilities                              16
                  ix)    Transition from education to work                      17
                  x)     Returns to education and training                      18
                  xi)    Mismatch between provision and industry requirements   18
                  xii)   Availability of full-time work                         19
                  xiii) Demographic change                                      20


           10. The impact of government policies on participation
               in education and training                                        20
           Conclusion                                                           23
           References                                                           24




2   Youth participation in education – Resource review
Introduction
This resource document is designed to accompany and support the summary document produced
by the authors for the Tasmanian State-wide consultative Forums to be held in April 2002. These
Forums, in which representatives of a range of stakeholders in education and training will take part,
have come out of Learning Together, the State’s vision for education, training and information into
the 21st century and the Tasmania Together government/community consultative process and will
be devoted to consideration of trends and targets in participation that are appropriate and
achievable for the State. This document therefore follows the structure of the summary paper in
some respects for ease of reference, although naturally, being a more substantial document and
work of scholarship it has more sections and a much broader discussion of sources. Throughout,
there is reference to Figures and Tables that appear in the summary document and are not
replicated here. Therefore the two papers should be regarded as companion documents.

Literature and policy documents discussed here are of current standing and relevance. We have not
attempted to go back historically, as this would have required a much longer paper - beyond the
time and resources of this project. We have attempted to be as inclusive and exhaustive as possible,
but in such a large and significant field of research there will always be sources that for one reason
or another have been missed. If there are any such, we apologise. We hope that both the papers
produced will assist discussion and debate on the important topic of education and training partici-
pation for Tasmania, and that they will have a practical role in informing government policy.

This project was funded and supported by the Tasmanian Office of Post-Compulsory Education and
Training (OPCET), which we acknowledge with thanks. The views expressed herein, however, are
entirely those of the authors and may or may not represent the views of OPCET. The Centre for
Research and Learning in Regional Australia, University of Tasmania, with which the authors are
associated in various capacities, is a research centre supported entirely by outside funding,
competitive grants and consultancies. The Centre’s mission is to consult widely to produce and
disseminate high quality research into learning and development in regional Australia.


1.    Overall participation in education and training
i)    State comparison
Australian youth participation in education (school, VET and higher education) has trended
upward since 1993 (Figure 1). Lamb, Long and Malley (1998 p19) believe the growth in participa-
tion in post-school education and training over the past decade has resulted from several trends.
Firstly there has been an expansion of the number of places available. Secondly there has been a
substantial increase in the number of young people completing Year 12 and qualifying for entry to
universities and other forms of further education (an increased demand for places). Thirdly the
downturn in labour market opportunities for young people has increased reliance on VET and on
higher education at the completion of school.

Tasmanian participation rates have generally followed the national pattern, and have been consis-
tently lower than the ACT, Victoria and New South Wales and the national average (Figure 1).
Whilst educational participation by Tasmanian 15-19 year olds in recent years had been lower than
that in most other States, the difference is particularly marked for the 20-24 year age group (Figures
2 and 3).


ii)   International comparison
Internationally, post-compulsory education and training is increasingly regarded as the norm and a
right for all citizens. For instance, post-compulsory education and training has become the socially
accepted norm for the vast majority of young people in most EU States – so much so that it is now
regarded as a de facto extension of compulsory schooling and virtually a public right (Green,
Hodson, Sakamoto & Spoors 1999 p11).



                                                        Youth participation in education – Resource review   3
    Australia has a disappointingly low post-compulsory education profile in comparison with other
    industrialized nations (Cullen 1998) and the general political consensus has been that participation
    in education and training needs to be increased (Ainley, Malley & Lamb 1997 p4). OECD figures
    show that Australia is ranked below the mean OECD country education participation rate for both
    15-19 and 20-24 year olds and Tasmanian participation by both age groups ranks near the bottom
    of OECD country participation rates (Table 1). McLaughlin (1998) made a more specific study of
    learning and work in Australia and Canada – two countries with similar high quality of life,
    relatively well-educated workforce, world-class resource base, trading nation status and both facing
    the challenges of globalisation of the economy, rapid technology changes and their impact on work
    skills needed, types of jobs available and future prospects. She showed that young Canadians are
    50% more likely to than young Australians to be enrolled full-time in a post-compulsory education
    program. However, young Australians are more likely to be in a post-compulsory education
    program in the science and technology areas where the current marketplace demand is high.

    Despite significant growth in the decade since 1989, Australia still lags behind a number of its
    trading partners, in particular America, Japan and several European countries, in terms of tertiary
    participation (DETYA 1999a p6).

    Similarly with regard to VET participation, OECD data indicate that a much smaller proportion of
    young people in Australia takes part in recognised vocational preparation in the immediate post-
    school years than in other OECD countries (Sweet 1996). Only only a small minority of young
    people in Australia takes up new apprenticeships. The participation rate in new apprenticeships is
    below that of Germany and Switzerland where more than 50% of the upper secondary school age
    cohort participate in apprenticeship type arrangements. The UK has 24% of its upper secondary
    school cohort (aged 16-19 years) participating in apprenticeship programs and Austria, Denmark,
    the Netherlands and Norway have more than 20% of young people in apprenticeship type arrange-
    ments (OECD 1999).

    In terms of upper secondary school completion, Australia continues to rank behind most other
    OECD countries (OECD 1998 p44; Curtain 2001a). Curtain (2001a p16) mentions that “at least 80%
    of the adult population aged 25-64 years in seven countries have attained an upper secondary
    education or higher (United States, Czech Republic, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Japan and
    Denmark). However, he notes, “Australia continues to rank below most other OECD countries in
    terms of the proportion of the population with high school or upper secondary education
    completed.” On the basis of 1999 data for 28 countries reported by OECD, Australia ranks 17th
    with 57% of its adult population aged 25-64 years with an upper secondary school education.
    Looking at the most recent post initial education age group, 25-34 years, Australia drops to 20th
    position.

    Curtain (2001a) notes that at least 14% of 19 year olds in 2000 have not attained a minimum level
    of education necessary to compete in today’s demanding labour market and this proportion has not
    improved over the last 3 years. He asserts this gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ is not
    only undermining Australia’s ability to compete in a global knowledge economy, but is also likely
    to further increase income inequality (and undermine social cohesion).

    Post-compulsory education and training participation builds the stock of skills in the economy and
    is an important determinant of future individual and State/national economic and social well-
    being. Cullen (1998) comments that:

           If education and training reform does not create competitive work skills, there will be
           less employment and less capacity to reward skills in the labour market. Such
           outcomes act to discourage future students which, in turn, reduces participation and
           further reduces competitiveness. This is a cycle, which needs to be blocked by any
           country seeking to succeed in an increasingly competitive and global marketplace.




4   Youth participation in education – Resource review
iii)   Asia-Pacific region comparison
When educational participation rates and expenditure are compared with countries in our region, a
different perspective is highlighted. Lenahan, Burke, and Ma (1998) compare participation in post-
secondary and senior secondary schooling in eleven Asian countries and Australia. Participation
rates yielded no real surprises. Japan, Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines and Australia all had a greater
than 40% participation rate in post-secondary schooling. Countries with a greater than 50%
completion rate for senior secondary education were Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Korea,
Malaysia, the Philippines and Australia.

Again, as expected, when comparing public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP,
Australia had one of the highest percentages (5.6% of GDP in 1995). However, when public
expenditure on education is expressed as a percentage of all public outlays, Australia (at 14%) is not
as highly placed. It is outranked by Singapore (23%), Thailand (20%), Taiwan (19%), Hong Kong
and South Korea (both 17%) and Malaysia (16%). Only China and Japan spend a lesser proportion
(12% and 11% respectively). (No data was available for Indonesia and the Philippines.)

Overall, international comparisons suggest that the current low level of Tasmanian participation
could lead to a widening gap in competitiveness and hence well-being between Tasmania, other
Australian States and the rest of the industrialised global economy.


2.     School participation
The Tasmanian school participation rate has increased relative to the national average and it has
been above the national average since 1997 in the decade from 1991 (Figure 4). Figure 10 also
shows the Tasmanian school participation rate as relatively high in comparison with other States.

Many researchers have commented that the decline in the number of full-time job opportunities in
the teenage labour market during the last two decades has helped fuel the marked increases in
school retention and levels of participation in higher education observed in the 1980s and early
1990s (for example, Wooden 1998). This may be particularly true in Tasmania.

It is expected that there will be an increase in retention when unemployment increases. The Post-
Compulsory Education in Tasmania Draft Report states that the Tasmanian education and training
participation rates mentioned have occurred in spite of the fact that Tasmania has the highest
youth unemployment of all the States and that “the consequences of allowing Tasmania’s skill base
to decline could be significant to future economic development” (Department of Education
Tasmania 1999 p5). Hence the importance of improving Tasmania’s skill base through increased
education and training participation is of central importance within the Tasmania Together exercise.


3.     VET participation
Tasmanian VET participation rates tend to be below the national average (Figure 5), particularly for
15-19 years olds (Figures 6 and 7). Participation rates for both age groups have risen rapidly in
recent years in all States, although for 20-24 year olds in the higher participation rate States of
Victoria and Western Australia the rates may be plateauing (Figure 7).

A contributing factor to Tasmania’s lower participation rate is the different structure of TAFE courses
in Tasmania. Preparatory courses are offered only to a limited extent in Tasmania (4.7% of
enrolments compared with 20% across Australia). In other States pre-vocational and some Year 11
and 12 courses are provided by TAFE (Department of Education Tasmania 1999 p19).

There has been an increase of 14% in apprenticeships and traineeships from 1995 to 1997 in
Tasmania, with a significant shift from apprenticeships to traineeships. Traineeship numbers are
increasing rapidly. Between 1995/96 and 1997/98 traineeship numbers in Tasmania increased from
1451 to 2310 (Department of Education Tasmania 1999 p19).




                                                        Youth participation in education – Resource review   5
    Participation in VET in Schools programs nationally has grown dramatically over the past five
    years, from 26,500 in 1995 to 130,000 in 1999 (Frost 2000). By 2000 some 90% of Australian
    schools were offering such programs (MCEETYA 2000). In Tasmania in 1998, 1824 certificates and
    statements of results were issued showing that over 15% of government senior school students
    completed a VET in Schools course (Department of Education Tasmania 1999 p15).

    Another change has been that many VET entrants now have completed Year 12 at senior secondary
    school, despite the fact that, in principle, entry to many VET courses is possible after Year 10.
    Ainley, Malley & Lamb (1997 p9) assert that this is a result of a tight labour market and rising
    school retention rates and use data from the Australian Committee on Vocational Education and
    Training and the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission to show that in 1982 17% of VET
    students in vocational streams had completed Year 12, rising to 22% in 1984 and to 46% in 1995.
    Lamb, Long & Malley (1998 p19) believe the downturn in labour market opportunities for young
    people has increased reliance on VET (and on higher education) at the completion of school.

    However, VET in secondary schools and TAFE (VET subjects) continue to operate as a stream of
    study that attracts only certain groups of students (Lamb, Long and Malley 1998 p18). VET retains a
    social division, with participants mainly in government schools with parents from skilled and
    unskilled manual occupations. It is therefore important to encourage students from all backgrounds
    to take up these opportunities for VET in schools, and so avoid this horizontal stratification.


    4.    Higher education participation
    As already stated in relation to school retention, many commentators have observed that the
    decline in the number of full-time job opportunities during the last two decades has helped fuel the
    marked increases in participation in higher education observed in the 1980s and early 1990s (for
    example, Wooden 1998).

    Despite this, Tasmanian higher education participation rates have been consistently at or near the
    bottom of the State rates since 1993 (Figure 8). “In 1997, the participation rate of 10% in higher
    education in the Australian Capital Territory was equal to the participation rate in all tertiary
    education (VET plus higher education) in Tasmania” (ABS 1998).

    More detailed examination of the 2000 higher education enrolments shows Tasmania has a
    relatively low proportion of the Australian 15-19 years age cohort in higher education compared
    with other States and the national average (Figure 9). Participation by 20-24 year olds is higher than
    in Queensland and Western Australia and similar to South Australia (Figure 9).

    The relatively low level of Tasmanian higher education participation may be partly due to our
    regional demography and our net export of qualified school leavers, with 18.3% of all students
    enrolled in award courses with declared Tasmanian home addresses enrolled interstate in 1999
    (Department of Education Tasmania 1999; Hogan & Lamb 2000).


    5.    Participation in employment only
    A smaller proportion of Tasmanian 15-19 year olds in October 2001 was employed and not in
    education than in all other States except Victoria and New South Wales (Figure 10). This is likely to
    be a reflection of the labour market in general and opportunities for youth employment in
    particular. There is no similar published or publicly available data for 20-24 year olds by State.
    Figure 11 shows that over recent years the proportion of teenagers in employment and not in full-
    time education or training has tended to be higher than the national average, and consistently
    higher than Victoria and the ACT in particular.

    At the national level, two changes observed in the last few years are cause for concern. Full-time
    jobs are gradually being replaced by part-time casual jobs the majority of which are highly concen-
    trated in low-skill occupations and there is a concentration of teenage employment in small firms



6   Youth participation in education – Resource review
that are less likely to invest in training (Wooden 1998). Young people in these low-skilled, casual
jobs rather than in more training-intensive jobs may face problems in the light of the observations
about links between education and training and future well-being made earlier. Wooden and
VandenHeuvel (1999) believe attention needs to be paid to the reasons behind the de-skilling of
jobs for young adults’ over the past five years as this is not a trend observed for older adults.


6.   Participation in both education and employment
Young people’s participation in education and training cannot be considered in isolation from their
participation in work. An increasing number of young people are combining work and study; a
quarter of them in 1998 compared with 16% ten years earlier (Buchanan & Bretherton 1999).

The incidence of part-time employment approximately doubled between the 1970s and the mid
1990s. Wooden, Robertson & Dawkins (1994), using ABS data, show that part-time jobs consisted of
10.6% of all jobs in 1970 but by 1994 this had increased to 24%. Young people were central figures
in this increase; in 1970 15-19 year olds accounted for 8.6% of total part-time employment but by
1990 their share was 17%. Teenagers still at school accounted for 2.4% of all part-time jobs in 1971
but by mid-1990 the corresponding figure was 10%.

Wooden (1998, p32) states that in 1997 80% of part-time teenage workers were involved in full-
time education. A sizable proportion of those classified as unemployed (46%) were actually full-
time students for whom study was presumably seen as a preferred alternative to collecting unem-
ployment benefits; it is strongly suspected that this situation also applies to some of the 553,500
students not seeking work, but who nevertheless might cease study should employment opportuni-
ties improve. This had also been suggested by an earlier Tasmanian study (Abbott-Chapman,
Hughes & Wyld 1992).

The impact of participation in paid employment on students’ studies has been the subject of a
number of investigations. Some believe the prevalence of part-time work has led to new expecta-
tions and lifestyle decisions among adolescents which may impact on, and sometimes detract from
study (Yap 1991). Wooden and colleagues (1994) examine whether the recent growth in part-time
employment has had any ramifications for decisions about participation in and retention in higher
education. Their data was drawn from the Australian Youth Survey in each of the years between
1985 and 1988. Their results indicate that part-time employment while studying at university or
similar level institutions has not been a factor critical to continuing studies. However, employment
while at secondary school is found to reduce the likelihood of continuing education for girls but
not for boys. This may be related to the type of work available in the service sector that is largely
gendered.

Tasmanian studies at both the secondary and tertiary level (Abbott-Chapman 1996, 1998) have
shown the very widespread involvement of students at secondary and tertiary level in part-time
paid employment both as a means of helping to finance studies and also as a source of income to
support lifestyle consumerism. The competencies learnt within the workplace may complement
rather than detract from studies, although most students’ part-time work is routine, manual, low
skill level and low paid. The number of hours per week worked has been found to be crucial in the
impact on study success; the higher the number of hours the more the ‘clash’ with study demands.

There have been calls for public policy to establish a better matching of employment and education
arrangements; to achieve a better fit between education and work, to see if activities in these
separate spheres can be mutually reinforcing, instead of co-existing in totally unconnected ways
(Buchanan & Bretherton 1999).


7.   Non-participation in education or employment
Figure 12 in the summary document shows that a rapid fall in full-time employment of Australian
15-19 year olds since the late 1970s has been matched by a steady increase in school participation



                                                       Youth participation in education – Resource review   7
    for this age group. The proportion of the age group neither in full time education nor employment
    shows a slight decline in the 1990s (see Figure 12). However, Curtain (2001a) notes that despite the
    remarkable growth performance in Australia’s economy for the nine years to mid-2000, the
    proportion of young people aged 15-19 years considered ‘at risk’ in the labour market in May 2001
    (15.1%) shows no sign of real improvement.

    International comparisons show that Australia has a lower proportion of its youth population in
    neither education nor employment than the OECD country mean (1998 figures, see Table 2). Other
    international comparisons show that Australia’s labour market is not as ‘youth friendly’ as other
    countries that have better-coordinated school-to-work arrangements (Curtain 2001a).

    The proportion of Tasmanian 15-19 year olds in neither education nor employment was 8.6% in
    October 1998, equal to the OECD country mean and higher than the Australian figure of 7.4% (see
    Table 2). Figure 13 shows that since October 1999, less than 10% of the Tasmanian 15-19 age
    cohort is neither in full-time education nor (any) employment. Tasmanian figures are higher than
    the national average and appear to be less volatile to the economic cycle than other States.


    8.    Targets for post-compulsory participation
    Australian targets for post-compulsory education and training attainment for 19 and 22 year olds
    (the Finn targets) were set in 1991 by Commonwealth and State governments (Finn 1991).
    Indications are that the first of the Finn targets is not likely to be met. As of May 2000 only 85.6%
    compared to the target of 95% of 19 year olds were participating in Year 12, had completed Year 12
    or completed Year 10 or 11 and were participating in or had completed some formally recognised
    education or training. On current trends this first Finn target will not be met until 2007 (Curtain
    2001a pp15-16).

    The second Finn target has been reached – with May 2000 data showing 67.7% of 22 year olds
    (target 60% by 2001) participating in education and training that leads to what is generally
    regarded as a qualification to denote a skilled worker (or an AQF level 3 qualification, or to be
    participating in or have completed higher education studies such as degrees or diplomas).

    However, Curtain (2001a p16) rates the Finn targets as “now seriously out of date” and representing
    a level of education attainment that is far behind the threshold education benchmark of upper
    secondary school completion or the equivalent set by leading OECD countries.

    The notion of a threshold qualification is increasingly being used in the US and Europe. This
    threshold qualification is the minimum level of certification required to have a reasonable chance
    of gaining employment or access to further study, such as ‘completing a full upper secondary
    education with a recognised qualification for either work, tertiary study or both’ (OECD 1999 p6).
    In Nordic countries, the UK and the USA, government funding in the form of a universal
    entitlement is made available to encourage all young people to attain a threshold qualification.

    In Australia, a report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment,
    Education and Training recommended the adoption of a ‘national youth guarantee’ which would
    entitle “every Australian under 21 years of age, who has not attained Year 12 at school, to a funded
    place at a high school, TAFE or a recognised training provider to complete a Year 12 education or its
    equivalent” (Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training 1999 p37). The
    government did not support the recommendation of a ‘national youth guarantee’, but did support
    the principle of encouraging all Australians to complete Year 12 or equivalent studies.

    A new Victorian government education target was announced in the Premier’s speech to the MP
    Education Foundation Forum on Monday 23 October 2000 (The Hon. Steve Bracks 2000). The new
    target commits the Victorian government to achieving a Year 12, or its equivalent, completion rate
    for 90% of young people by 2010. The completion rate for 22 year olds in Victoria in May 2000 was
    72.3%, illustrating the ground that will have to be covered to achieve this target.



8   Youth participation in education – Resource review
Curtain (2001a p17) believes the Victorian target sets a new benchmark, albeit a modest one, of
what constitutes a basic level of education attainment for young people in Australia as a whole. He
notes (in a footnote p18) that it can be argued that the relevant reference point should be a
dynamic rather than a static one (should seek to match the education attainment performance of
Victoria or Australia with a comparable group of countries). Curtain sees the setting of the Victorian
government’s target as an immediate challenge for other governments in Australia to set a target
that either matches or goes beyond it. He also notes that this needs to be done at national, State
and regional levels.

Curtain (2001a p18) predicts that on the basis of the 1997-2000 rate of increase, Australian 22 year
olds would not attain the Victorian target until 2020. He also states “on current trends, Australia in
the medium term is not likely to lift the threshold education levels of a significant minority of its
young people” (Curtain 2001a p18). Recognition of the need to increase both rates of participation
in post-compulsory schooling and rates of completion of post-compulsory qualifications in
Australia is evident in a recent survey (OECD 2000). The report recommended reform of the
curriculum to make senior secondary schooling more relevant and useful to potential early school
leavers. There was also encouragement for better cooperation between TAFE and high schools.


9.   Factors affecting participation in education and training
i)   Early school leaving
Level of initial education attained is considered to be an important influence on participation in
post-secondary education and training. Lamb, Long and Malley (1998) assert that low achievers at
school are far more likely to attempt to enter the labour force on leaving school without
undertaking any further formal education of training. High achievers are much more likely to make
use of available education and training opportunities. Roussel (2000) found that participation in
some form of post-compulsory education or training rose from 82% for individuals with a Year 10
education to 97% for individuals with a post-graduate degree. For the same two groups participa-
tion in education/training rates rose from 13% to 43% and participation in formal training rose
from 27% to 60%. These data are important in societies, like Australia, which promote the concept
of life-long learning.

The relative demand in post-industrial societies for labour has shifted in favour of skilled workers
and so skill deficiencies arising from inadequate or poor quality education and training represent
an increasingly significant obstacle to employment success. Early school leavers are thus likely to
find themselves at a much greater disadvantage in the labour market than was the case in the past
(Curtain 1998; Ainley, Malley & Lamb 1997; McKenzie 2000). Further to this early school leavers
are also likely to find they lack the foundation skills needed to take advantage of further education
and training opportunities (OECD 1997 p29; McKenzie 2000.) However, the major benefit of
completing Year 12 is the access it provides to higher education and other types of further study
(Ainley, Malley & Lamb 1997 p22).

Many factors affect the decision to leave school early. Changes to school programs and teaching
approaches are particularly important for potential early leavers because the reasons for leaving are
largely because students do not like school, and may even be alienated from it (OECD 1998, 1997).
There is some evidence that where reforms to curricula, assessment and teaching were most far-
reaching, there was the most rapid rise in school retention during the 1980s and early 1990s (Ainley,
Malley & Lamb 1997). Strategies to encourage marginal youth to remain at school include: the intro-
duction of curricular, pedagogical and organisational changes in the lower secondary years as well as
in Years 11 and 12; a shift in perspective towards the school being the delivery vehicle for the range of
guidance, employment, health and social welfare services needed to equip young people for a
successful transition to adulthood (as in the Full Service School); and providing ways for early leavers
to return to the education and training system at a later stage when their motivation and personal
circumstances may be more conducive to systematic study (OECD 1997 p30).




                                                         Youth participation in education – Resource review   9
     McClelland, MacDonald and MacDonald (1998 p117) suggest that improvements to access to
     education and training must continue to be a priority as a number of studies have shown that
     school-based early intervention programs can play a part in assisting young homeless people to
     complete their education, therefore a greater commitment, more Commonwealth funding and a
     nation-wide program for such activities is needed.

     The rates of early school leaving in the 1990s were strongly related to family educational and
     cultural resources. Ainley, Malley and Lamb (1997 p19) show that students from families in which
     either parent has a professional occupation and where the parents are university-educated and
     likely to have greater knowledge of the school system and have higher education aspirations for
     their children, far less often experience early school leaving.

     Much research has shown that the language-speaking background of families also influences the
     rates of dropping out. Miller and Volker (1989) show that parents in non-English-speaking families
     have higher educational aspirations for their children and place a premium on completing high
     school as a form of enhancing their children’s future prospects.

     Ainley, Malley and Lamb also link early leaving with where families live and the type of school
     attended (1997 p20). They show that students living in rural areas, where schools are usually
     smaller and less able to offer a comprehensive range of senior school curriculum options, less often
     than their metropolitan counterparts continue at school to the final year. This is particularly
     apparent for rural-based girls. Students attending independent schools, with the benefits provided
     in terms of selective social intake, high concentrations of physical and teaching resources and a
     strong focus on preparation for university entrance, have substantially lower drop-out rates.

     Misko (1999) believes that early leaving may also be attributed to the fact that the Year 12 qualifica-
     tion is losing its value in the eyes of students and employers, or that students are increasingly
     finding school irrelevant to their daily lives, or because of students’ perceptions about the
     decreasing probability of their getting a job, (regardless of research data showing increased rates of
     return), or students’ belief that completing Year 12 will not guarantee a job, or a better job.
     Furthermore, the continued publicity of high youth unemployment rates in the media may also
     reinforce this view.

     Several other factors regarding students themselves that influence early leaving are considered by
     Misko (1999). The added work and stress associated with completing Year 12 and getting a high
     university entrance score may dominate the thinking of students and their parents … some
     students are prepared to do this; others are not. Students of higher ability, in terms of their
     performance on numeracy and reading achievement tests at the age of 14, are also more likely to
     complete Year 12 than those of low ability. Non-completers may be leaving because they lack
     adequate skills to do well in the senior secondary years and Misko questions why these students
     have been allowed to progress through school without the grounding in basic skills that is required.
     Another reason students may opt to leave school early may have to do with their lack of particular
     learning skills. Not all students are aware that putting in the time to learn or become acquainted
     with specific material that is relevant to the completion of assessments may help them to recall the
     information when it is required. Not all students are aware that the preparation of assignments
     requires time and effort. Ainley (1998) raises the issue of achievements of students during their
     primary school years as well as at secondary level. He highlights the importance of the
     development of a sense of competence in the early years of schooling.

     Lamb (1996) investigated the downturn in school completion rates since 1992, noting that there is
     a substantial (well over a quarter) and growing number of young people who renounce extended
     schooling even though economic circumstances have not substantially changed in recent times. He
     suggests that over the last few years there have been stronger influences shaping school leaving
     decisions than the state of the labour market. Data used in the research is from ABS Schools
     Australia series and from ACER’s Australian Youth Survey.




10   Youth participation in education – Resource review
When considering the reasons that might account for the downturn in school completion, Lamb
(1996 pp23-24) discounts an increase in the number of young people wanting to take advantage of
alternative education and training opportunities such as those provided by TAFE, business colleges,
industry skill centres and privately-run training institutions. This is because, importantly, the
growth in participation in TAFE and these other agencies has not originated from early school
leavers. Similarly the increase in the number of available apprenticeships and traineeships is
thought to have helped maintain rather than cause the trend away from school. Lamb also
considers an explanation based on changes in labour market opportunities or on developments in
training opportunities alone is inadequate (because school participation rates for males and females
reached their peak and began to decline at the onset of the 1991 recession). One of the alternative
explanations put forward by Lamb is the change in views of young people on the value of
remaining at school. The large expansion in school completions during the 1980s has led to a
devaluation of the benefits of Year 12. Also because the growth in post-school opportunities, in
further education and employment has not kept pace with the expansion in numbers of school
users there is a high level of disappointment attached to school completion.

Another possible explanation mentioned by Lamb is the experience of school itself. He asserts that
young people’s judgements about the relevance of school and wanting to remain there longer are
based on their feeling that the time and effort they put is meaningful, rewarding and successful. He
cites Teese (1996) as an example of recent work showing the decline in school completion has been
strongest in areas and among groups where failure in key subject areas has grown.

Given that all students cannot achieve success at the highest academic levels there is a need to
promote the valuing of other types of success that are useful in the workplace. Abbott-Chapman
and Kilpatrick (2001) suggest in particular the promotion of the vocational education and training
(VET) streams in schools. The changing youth labour market and the availability of full- and part-
time work also has an impact on early leaving, especially for students alienated from school. While
early leavers are usually hopeful of finding a full time job, they may become trapped in the part-
time and casual job market and find it difficult to improve their position without further training
and qualifications.


ii)   Socio-economic background
A wide array of studies have shown that socio-economic status of family background continues to
influence participation and retention in education and training, despite the many education and
training policy initiatives. Using the data from the Australian Youth Survey, Abbott-Chapman,
Easthope and O’Connor (1997) showed that family socio-economic status, and related educational
aspirations, were the best predictors of post-school destinations in terms of study, work or unem-
ployment one year after leaving school. Two years after school leaving the first year outcome was
the best predictor of subsequent career moves – hence the initial step on the ladder, which is so
influenced by family background, is crucial to educational and career success. Gender interacted
with socio-economic background in deciding outcomes.

Socio-economic status is complex in its impact on participation and may be summarised as part of
the family social capital that encourages or impedes participation (Kilpatrick & Abbott-Chapman
2002). Factors such as earlier school achievement, parental occupation, parental education, NESB
and home location have been associated with differences in school completion rates in the 1980s
(Williams, Long, Carpenter & Hayden, 1993). Lamb (1996) confirmed the continued existence of
these associations into the 1990s. He also raised the issue of interactions between gender and socio-
economic background. He noted the decline in retention to Year 12 was greater for young males
from “unskilled’ family backgrounds. The rate of school completion for this group had fallen by
over 13% since the early 1990s compared with a fall of only 3% for those from
professional/managerial backgrounds. Rates for females were smaller and less strongly associated
with socio-economic background.




                                                       Youth participation in education – Resource review   11
     Lamb, Long and Malley (1998) assert that participation in VET is also related to social background.
     Students from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to enrol in VET at school than
     those from higher socio-economic status backgrounds. Young people from professional and
     managerial backgrounds more often gain access to university than those from other origins and
     there is little evidence that this has improved over the past decade, even though it might have been
     expected to because school completion rates grew for all groups and the number of university
     places increased. However the authors point out that the high levels of participation in higher
     education do not mean that young people from more advantaged backgrounds ignore post-school
     VET programs. Rates of participation in TAFE, traineeships and apprenticeships for young people
     from higher status backgrounds are not that much weaker than for those from lower status
     backgrounds. Differences between socio-economic groups are much smaller in VET than in higher
     education, but this does not mean social background differences are not a major equity issue (Lamb
     Long & Malley 1998 p106). Males and females from lower status backgrounds make up the bulk of
     those who do not undertake any formal training or further education by their mid-20s.

     The Australian higher education participation rate of individuals from low socio-economic groups
     was also reported as relatively low by Andrews (1999 pvii) with 19% of higher education students
     in 1997 coming from the lowest quartile of the population as measured by socio-economic status.
     This relatively low level of participation remained largely unchanged for about two decades despite
     substantial increases in the size of the student body and the introduction of HECS. In 1998,
     students from the lowest socio-economic status quartile in Australia were participating in higher
     education at approximately only 60% of their proportional share (DETYA 1999a p6). Other survey
     findings indicated that although HECS was not a main reason given by individuals for failing to
     participate in higher education, some potential students from low socio-economic status
     backgrounds may be averse to accruing debt and therefore abandon plans to participate in higher
     education (Andrews 1999 p25). He concludes that a possible reason why HECS has had little impact
     on the social composition of the student population is that the primary reason underlying the low
     participation by low socio-economic status groups in higher education relates to their values and
     attitudes towards higher education. Darby (2000 p47) is in agreement with Andrews. She suggests
     that because the student’s family and background (specifically income advantages, inculcation of
     educational tastes and aspirations and heredity) are major determinants of university participation
     in Australia, the effects of specific government policies such as AUSTUDY and other educational
     subsidies to low income families are going to be muted. However other researchers believe there is
     certainly no doubt that many students from low socio-economic status homes suffer real financial
     hardship in order to attend university (Abbott-Chapman 1998).

     Another contributing factor may be that many individuals from low socio-economic status
     background also belong to other disadvantaged groups such as indigenous Australians, migrants
     from particular non-English-speaking backgrounds, or may live in rural, remote or isolated parts of
     Australia (Andrews 1999 p21). The six DETYA target equity groups are certainly not mutually
     exclusive (Abbott-Chapman 1998).

     Concerns have been voiced across the higher education sector in Britain about widening participa-
     tion and increasing student diversity. Conventional wisdom asserts that widening participation can
     result in a number of social and economic benefits for social groups and individuals, but less is
     known about the viewpoints and understandings of the working class non-participants themselves.
     Archer and Hutchings (2000) sought to establish how close working class non-participants’ views of
     the value and benefits of higher education were to those of government, industry and the universi-
     ties. Findings suggested that young people from working-class backgrounds largely agreed with
     official discourses as to the potential individual economic benefits of higher education, but also
     showed that the young people saw higher education as inherently risky, demanding great
     investment and costs, and yielding uncertain returns (Archer & Hutchings 2000 p569). Respondents
     to the research survey also expressed concerns about becoming middle-class and losing one’s
     working-class cultural identity through participation in higher education (Archer & Hutchings 2000
     p570).


12   Youth participation in education – Resource review
Lynch and O’Riordan (1998) investigated how social class position affected students’ access to and
participation in higher education in Ireland. They identified three barriers facing these particular
students – economic, social and cultural, and educational. Relative poverty was regarded as the
principal barrier to equality of access and participation for low income working-class students but
cultural and educational barriers were also of great significance, and all three were highly
interactive. The cultural barriers included working-class students’ beliefs that their social and
cultural background was not valued in schools or wider society, some working-class parents’ own
negative experience of education, working-class people’s sense that higher education was remote
and alien from their lives, or was beyond their reach, often because they did not believe in their
own abilities. Educational barriers identified were the middle-class nature of educational institu-
tions and their inflexibility and unresponsiveness to the needs of working-class students.

Family is also identified as an important influence on participation in lifelong education and
training by Gorard, Rees and Fevre (1999). Their large-scale British study investigated patterns of
lifetime participation in education and training of parents and children in the same family in the
post-second World War period. The families were drawn from an industrial area in South Wales
where the researchers believed that changes, both in patterns of lifelong learning related to shifts in
the economic structure and in wider social relations, had been especially marked and rapid. Over
the period studied, expectations and opportunities for formal education and training increased but
take-up of the increased opportunities by respondents to the survey varied. The authors believe the
differences can be traced back to highly complex family influences.


iii)   Young people’s attitudes and aspirations
The attitudes and aspirations of young people themselves are very much influenced by family
background. Wooden (1999) discusses issues relating to young people’s attitudes and expectations,
such as whether the expansion in participation in higher education has resulted in young people
having higher expectations of entry level jobs than in the past or whether the expectations of
young people have been conditioned by the persistently high levels of unemployment, leading
many to recognise the need for higher levels of educational attainment whilst concurrently being
prepared to accept any job they can find. Clearly all these attitudes, aspirations and expectations
will have an impact on participation rates in post-secondary, TAFE and higher education.

In an analysis of the Australian Youth Study (AYS) data Abbott-Chapman, Easthope and O’Connor
(1997) found students’ aspirations were an important influence on their future careers.

       The results confirm for both males and females the importance of aspirational factors,
       subjects studied and background socio-economic factors in influencing the career
       trajectories of these young people into study and employment respectively. The
       importance of students’ aspirations for further and higher education is underlined
       (Abbott-Chapman et al 1997 p21).


iv)    Gender
Females are more likely to participate in education and training than males at the post-compulsory
level (Ainley 1998, p54). Since 1992 the participation of females has outstripped that of males,
while male participation has more or less plateaued. Ainley (1998) drew attention to the fact that
the gap between males and females in participation in post-compulsory education and training
widened during a period of overall expansion and continued to widen during the following period
of contraction.

Lamb, Long and Malley (1998 p104) showed that girls more often complete school than boys and
now outnumber them in university, but noted that this trend fails to reveal that there are
differences in subjects and courses undertaken in school and university. Faculty distributions reveal
the gendered nature of many enrolments. In addition, the post graduation career outcomes do not




                                                        Youth participation in education – Resource review   13
     tend to favour females. The higher rates of pay enjoyed by young male university graduates at least
     until age 24 are partly explained by the difference in subject choice.

     Marginson (1998 p85) shows that among 17-19 year olds, female participation in higher education
     at 21.3% outstrips male participation at 14.9%, but that male participation rises in older age
     groups. In the 25-29 years age group it is just below the level of female participation, and a
     substantial majority of the students in higher degrees are male. The female share of enrolments in
     higher education by age group shows the female share exceeded male for the first time in 1987
     then plateaued at 53-54% until 1997 (last year of data). The proportion of women was highest
     among young school leaver entrants, whose enrolment patterns were directly affected by the
     pattern of relatively high female retention to Year 12. The male share of enrolments was higher in
     older age groups especially the 25-29 age group where males outnumbered females. Males
     continued to outnumber females in higher degrees in 1996 – doctoral degree enrolments were
     41.1% female, coursework Masters programs in Business and related disciplines were 34.5% female
     (DEETYA 1996 p94). Young women participated in higher education at a greater rate than young
     men and the gap was widening (DEETYA 1996 Tables 1 & 2 pp88-89).

     Robinson and Ball (1998) present 1990, 1995 and 1996 participation rates of 15-19 year olds in
     vocational education showing female participation as lower than male but closest for 15-16 year
     olds in all three years. There was a 10% or greater difference between males and females in each age
     group after age 17 in 1990; with the gap between males and females closing in 1995/1996 due to an
     increase in female participation. Robinson and Ball (1998) conclude that participation rates by 15-
     19 year olds in vocation education and training have remained unchanged over the 1990s. In 1993
     women represented 45% of all students in TAFE (excluding Stream 1000). For Stream 1000 (courses
     that are non-accredited and foster the development of creativity, social and personal skills) women
     students represented 75.3% of the total students. Gender based segmentation is particularly marked
     in relation to field of study (Barnett, Foyster & Werner 1996 p4). Women are concentrated in non-
     trade related and non-accredited training and over-represented in many preparatory and access
     courses.

     Lamb, Long and Malley (1998) found female participation in TAFE outstrips male, but female
     enrolments cluster in four major fields of study – administration/secretarial studies, hospitality and
     services, health, and arts/humanities. They believe this affects both pay distributions and opportu-
     nities for career advancement.

     Golding and Volkoff (1997) report on research conducted in 1996/97 into uneven patterns of, and
     barriers to, access, participation and outcomes in vocational education and training for seven
     different client groups including women, indigenous and NESB people (and others). Clients in four
     States and six regions of Australia including Burnie, Tasmania are included in the research. They
     found that there was considerable overlap between memberships of several of the target groups. For
     example, one third of those interviewed belonged to four or more of the target groups (Golding &
     Volkoff 1997 p11). The authors highlighted the difficulty of categorising individual clients and
     client groups by a single characteristic, or access and participation problems by a single barrier.


     v)    Indigenous Australians
     Indigenous Australians have far less access to learning throughout life than other Australians and
     much less association with the training and careers that come with paid work (ANTA 2000). In
     1996, 71% of indigenous secondary students had dropped out of school before Year 12, compared
     with 26% of other students. In that same year only 12% of indigenous VET students had completed
     Year 12 compared with 36% of non-indigenous students. Apprenticeship and traineeship retention
     and completion rates were significantly lower than for other Australians. In 1996 only 14% of
     indigenous Australians had a post-school qualification, compared with 34% of non-indigenous
     Australians (ANTA 2000 p10). Reference is made in the strategy document to the traditional
     indigenous strong link to place, culture, land and family and the subsequent location of residence




14   Youth participation in education – Resource review
of the bulk of the indigenous population away from the major urban areas where much education
and training is provided. Even though VET delivery has expanded, 64% of indigenous people living
in rural areas live more than 50kms from the nearest TAFE college (ANTA 2000 p39).

Indigenous higher education student numbers have grown in the 1990s (Encel 2000) though these
students are under-represented in the sector (Marginson (1998). Encel (2000 p16) indicates that in
1992, 2812 indigenous students were enrolled in Bachelor degrees and that this number had
increased to 4351 by 1999. Again the location of home residence is a factor in participation rates
with high proportions of indigenous students having to move from their previous home town in
order to study. In 1996 62% of indigenous students relocated, in 1997 the figure was 50% and in
1998 43%. The respective figures for non-indigenous students were 34%, 33% and 28% (Encel 2000
p6).

Language is a considerable barrier to access to information about available VET programs and
participation in those programs. ANTA (2000 p29) indicates that English is a second language for
many indigenous people and they have varying degrees of English proficiency. One in five (21%) of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia speak an indigenous language as their main
language (Volkoff & Golding 1998 p3).


vi)    Non-English-speaking background (NESB) excluding indigenous
Volkoff and Golding (1998 p3) report that in 1996, 23% of the Australian population had been
born overseas and that 14% of Australians spoke a language other than English at home. This can
be a barrier to access to information about and participation in education and training (NSW TAFE
1995; Stephens & Bertone 1995; O’Loughlin & Watson 1997), and also to performance in and
completion of courses (ABS 1996).

Lamb, Long and Malley (1998 p106) state that their research showed differences in participation in
VET related to family ethnicity were small and that young people from non-English-speaking
backgrounds were not particularly disadvantaged in terms of post-school VET. However they
acknowledged that other research showed that there were differences, and this indicated that there
might be specific groups of young people from NESB backgrounds who are disadvantaged in terms
of post-school VET participation and others who are not.

Wooden and VandenHeuvel (1999 p52) using data from the 1991 Census, show that NESB young
adults are more likely than other young adults to be studying. Of NESB immigrant young men,
48% were undertaking part time or full time study whereas only 23% of Australian born young
men and 19% of ESB immigrant young men were. Similar figures applied for young women, 45%,
21% and 18% respectively. This may be due to a greater value placed on education by NESB
families.


vii)   Rural and regional issues
The degree of rurality of a region has an impact on post-compulsory educational aspiration and,
consequently, on participation (Abbott-Chapman & Kilpatrick 2001; Kilpatrick & Abbott-Chapman
2002). Young people living in rural parts of Australia have different patterns of participation from
their urban counterparts (Lamb, Long & Malley 1998; Stevenson, Maclachlan & Karmel 1999). As
mentioned in the earlier section on early school leaving, rural schools are usually smaller and less
able to offer a comprehensive range of senior school curriculum options (Ainley, Malley & Lamb
1997) and students living in rural areas less often than their metropolitan counterparts continue at
school to the final year. The authors note that this is especially apparent for rural girls. Lamb, Long
and Malley (1998) show that those from rural areas participate in higher education to a lesser
extent than those from urban locations but participation in VET follows a different pattern. VET is
important for young people living in rural parts of Australia. The take up of apprenticeships is
higher among teenage males in rural areas than in urban areas, although access to particular types
of apprenticeships may be more limited. TAFE participation and participation in work-based



                                                        Youth participation in education – Resource review   15
     training do not differ very much by geographical location. Generally, living in a rural area is not an
     impediment to participation in post-school VET, the only disadvantage being the availability of a
     wide range of specialised courses and training.

     Other national longitudinal data suggest that after a period in the early 1980s, when rural/urban
     differences in post-compulsory education and training seemed to be narrowing, by the mid 1990s
     (all else being equal) “living in a rural area became a strong predictor of non-completion” of Year
     12 (Lamb, Dwyer & Wyn 2000 p28). Explanations may focus upon the economic downturn in the
     rural areas, the loss of facilities and the population drift to the cities, but family and community
     values surrounding education and their social capital are also involved (Abbott-Chapman 2001;
     Kilpatrick & Abbott-Chapman 2002). Recent findings in Tasmania echo those of a decade ago,
     which showed that rural parents’ socio-economic and educational backgrounds are reflected in
     their goals, aspirations and intentions for their children in study and work (Choate, Cunningham,
     Abbott-Chapman & Hughes 1992). Educational and employment experiences of older siblings may
     also lead parents to encourage or discourage their younger children from further study as found in
     more recent research among rural school leavers and their families (Abbott-Chapman & Baynes
     2002).

     In Tasmania school retention rates to Year 12 vary considerably between regions, districts and
     schools. In 1998, within the government school sector the southern region had the highest direct
     retention rates from Year 10 to Year 11 (78.9%). The rate in the north-west was 70.2% and in the
     north 66.4%. At a district level, retention rates ranged from 81.9% in the Hartz district to 65.9% in
     the Macquarie district. At the school level the direct retention rate ranges from 100% to 34%
     (Department of Education 1999 p13).


     viii) Students with disabilities
     There has been little research carried out specifically on the post-compulsory participation and
     retention of students with physical and sensory disabilities. Research in Tasmania by Abbott-
     Chapman, Hughes and Wyld (1991, Chapter 14); Abbott-Chapman, Easthope and O’Connor (1993,
     1995) and Abbott-Chapman (1998) has broken new ground in this respect. Findings have revealed
     the social as well as physical access barriers to full education and training participation of students
     with disabilities, as well as the policies and practices in schools, colleges and university which are
     helping to remove those barriers. The self-help programs and activities of students with disabilities
     themselves have helped to ensure more equal participation of students with disabilities at the post-
     compulsory level. There are increasing numbers of students with disabilities who are accessing post-
     compulsory education at every level. For instance, in 1997 a substantial survey showed about 2% of
     University of Tasmania students stated they have a disability on their enrolment form (Abbott-
     Chapman 1998) and the latest available figure for 2002 indicates that the corresponding
     ‘enrolment’ figure is 1.1%. However in 2002, 471 students disclosed directly to the Student Services
     Section that they had a disability, which is 3.3% of all enrolled University of Tasmania students
     (University of Tasmania 2002). Since not all students with a disability choose to disclose this to
     Student Administration or their lecturers these figures are difficult to verify. In terms of national
     comparison, however, the University of Tasmania is performing well with respect to increasing
     participation of students with disabilities.

     Moreover, Tasmanian research findings have shown that students with a disability “in the main are
     at no more risk of dropping out than are other students in higher education because they are
     highly motivated to succeed, have strong support networks including self-help groups such as
     S.E.A.L. (Students for Equal Access in Learning) and a range of ‘targeted’ supports available to
     them” (Abbott-Chapman 1998 p149). The sense of “perceived personal control in education”
     (PPCE) among students with a disability was found to be high because of all of the obstacles they
     had to overcome (Abbott-Chapman et al 1995 p79). The research emphasised the need for
     educational institutions and educators to be particularly sensitive to the needs of students with
     disabilities at a very practical level.



16   Youth participation in education – Resource review
ix)   Transition from education to work
The transition from initial education to working life is defined in OECD planning documents as the
period during which young people move from their principal activity being full-time schooling or
its equivalent to that in which their principal activity is work. In Australia the transition period is
considered to span the ages 16 to 24 years (Ainley, Malley & Lamb (1997 p12).

The ways in which young people move from initial education to employment depend on a complex
set of interacting conditions (OECD 1998 p49) and vary according to the country of residence of the
young person (Mansuy, Fetsi, Scatoli, Mooney & van den Brandes 2001). Education systems in
different countries vary greatly in the degree to which general and vocational studies complement
each other and in the ways in which they are sequenced. In Australia the great majority of young
people enter a general education pathway at the end of compulsory schooling and the choice of a
vocational pathway is both delayed and made by relatively few people. Many of those completing the
general education pathway enter work rather than further study and so the path to work is an indi-
vidually constructed one rather than institutionalised one. A significant minority of young people
have difficulties in the transition process, 12% leave education and training by age 16 and 10% are
unemployed in their early 20s (OECD 1998 p50). Education-employment linkages are similar to those
in much of Canada, New Zealand and the United States. It appears that countries with well-developed
pathways from education to work succeed in getting young people into their first job quickly and in
limiting long-term youth unemployment (OECD 1998 p52).

Longitudinal survey results (McKenzie 2001) show that young people who in their first post-school
year have been mainly in either part-time work, been unemployed or outside the labour force are
much less likely over their first seven post-school years in total to make a successful transition to
full-time employment. Curtain (2001a) showed that in May 2001 just under a third (31%) of 15-19
year olds were not in full-time education. Of those, just over a half were in full-time work, the
remainder, representing 15.1% of all 15-19 year olds, were ‘at risk’ i.e. in part-time work,
unemployed or not actively looking for work. Curtain believes one of the main contributors to the
difficulties experienced by young people in their transition from full-time education to full-time
work is the absence of full-time jobs for this age group. Full-time jobs for adults aged 25 years and
over between May 1995 and 2001 have grown by 9.5%. Over the same period the number of full-
time jobs taken by non-student young people aged 15-19 years and 20-24 years has declined by
8.6% and 13.3% respectively. Curtain asserts that this shows that young people have more
difficulty than any other age group in gaining access to full-time work.

However, Curtain (2001a) also notes that overall employment growth is insufficient in itself to help
young people, and that effective mechanisms to underpin the transition from education to work
are also important. He believes economic growth alone is not likely to overcome the difficulties
faced by young people on entering the labour market, especially for those young people who have
poor literacy and numeracy skills, or suffer from social disadvantages due to location or race or a
combination of these factors.

Bagnall (2000) debates general versus vocational education and looks at how France and Australia
have attempted to solve the increasingly complex problem of the transition from school to work.
He refers to the 1997 McGaw Report Shaping Their Future and the issue of high and low status
educational pathways. Bagnall concludes that given the increasingly varied and incremental routes
into the adult world, educational provision needs to move away from stereotypes that have evolved
over centuries of compulsory schooling. He asserts that providers can no longer give status and
prestige to one system and not another.

      If the vocational and technical educational strand is undervalued not only in the
      compulsory phase but also in post-compulsory provision, educational policy makers
      and professionals undermine the very fragile, but essential, solution to youth
      transition uncertainty. The need for diversity and flexibility of provision has never
      been greater” (Bagnall 2000 p472).



                                                        Youth participation in education – Resource review   17
     The change over the past two decades in the pattern of young people’s participation in work,
     education and training has been dramatic (Robinson & Ball 1998). Earlier young people used to be
     either in work or full-time education or training with the only real exception being apprenticeships.
     Now there are many different pathways with the norm being full- or part-time study, often
     combined with part-time work, and an expansion of structured training through the introduction
     of traineeships since the mid-1980s.

     The responsibility for helping young people make a successful transition from initial education to
     working life cannot be left to a single institution. Schools naturally have a major role to play but
     other agencies and organisations have a part too. Sustained support from industry, enterprises and
     wider society is required for success in this area, particularly where the needs of all students and
     not just those intending to proceed to university are concerned (OECD 1997 p30).

     Government policy has as a major objective, to strengthen or even create pathways that connect
     schooling and work for the majority of young people who neither enter university nor obtain an
     apprenticeship after leaving school (McKenzie 2000) and this is discussed further in a later section.

     Many aspects of the institutional provisions in Australia that impact on the transition from initial
     education to working life are changing as better arrangements for education and training are
     sought…the system itself is changing (Ainley, Malley & Lamb 1997 p43). Among the changes
     highlighted were the movement from a high level of differentiation between general and
     vocational education to a less differentiated system, i.e. more vocational education in schools,
     orienting of senior school programs towards the world of work, and the broadening scope of
     programs in vocational education and training. The development of vocational education in
     schools is resulting in stronger linkages to the labour market in the schools where those programs
     are strong.


     x)    Returns to education and training
     The lack of growth in participation in vocational education among young people would appear to
     reflect, at least in part, evidence of low returns to vocational qualifications (Wooden 1999 p2;
     Ainley, Malley & Lamb 1997 p24). The duration of course may also be a factor. It may be the case
     that many young people surmise that if three years of study is required for both a TAFE and a
     university qualification then the returns to the latter will probably be greater.

     Girls and boys may perceive returns to education differently. Wooden, Robertson and Dawkins
     (1994) found that employment while at secondary school reduced the likelihood of continuing
     education for girls but not for boys, and argued that this might be a reflection of greater preference
     for current income or of lower rates of return to education for girls.

     Financial returns to undertaking higher education remained high after the introduction and
     changes to HECS and HECS did not appear to have substantially affected the level of applications
     or enrolments of students in general (Andrews 1999).


     xi)   Mismatch between provision and industry requirements
     Possessing a qualification may not necessarily imply possession of skills that are sought by
     employers. Wooden (1999 p15) suggests that it is possible that, despite its expansion, the formal
     education system has contributed to the mismatch between skills demanded and skills supplied by
     being poorly adapted to user’s needs. The ability of vocational education systems to keep pace with
     the changes that have been happening in workplaces is questioned (Wooden 1999) and in
     particular the failure of the apprenticeship system to adapt to the changing nature of work is held
     responsible for many problems (Sweet 1995, 1996; Dorrance & Hughes 1996). Survey data so far
     indicate contrasting views. Employer satisfaction with graduates from the TAFE system is shown to
     be relatively high (NCVER 1997) and a survey of small businesses including those using and not
     using TAFE graduates concludes that there do not appear to be any fundamental mismatches



18   Youth participation in education – Resource review
occurring between the demand for VET from small businesses and the supply of publicly funded
VET (Baker 1995). This same survey however, showed that 35% of all respondents who had
knowledge of the availability of TAFE courses indicated that TAFE training was not well suited to
the needs of their business. Wooden (1999 p18) suggests that if the current systems of VET delivery
are to better assist young people to acquire skills that are valued by the market, then delivery needs
to be re-focussed on the new growth industries and not on the traditional trades.

Others have argued that the quality and work-relevance of education in Australia, including basic
schooling has declined (Dorrance & Hughes 1996). Schools, as providers of VET programs, are not
immune from this criticism with concerns being expressed that curricula have not responded
appropriately to changes in the labour market and that a greater role for VET in schools is
warranted (Wooden 1999 p18). There have been calls for greater links between schools and industry
(House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training 1997) and
the need for young people to learn to work while still at school (Sweet 1994).


xii) Availability of full-time work
One of the main contributors to the difficulties experienced by young people in the transition from
full-time education to full-time work is the absence of full-time jobs for this age group (Curtain
2001a). Full-time jobs for adults aged 25 years and over between May 1995 and 2001 have grown
by 9.5%. Over the same period the number of full-time jobs taken by non-student young people
aged 15-19 years and 20-24 years has declined by 8.6% and 13.3% respectively. Curtain asserts that
this shows that young people have more difficulty that any other age group in gaining access to
full-time work.

McClelland, MacDonald and Macdonald (1998) used data from ABS Labour Force survey of May
1996 to show that there were an estimated 187,700 15–19 year olds (almost 15%) engaged in
marginal activities at one point of time. The actual figures for the three different categories of
marginal activity were 67,800 not studying and in part-time work, 78,200 not studying and
unemployed, and 41,700 not studying and not in the labour force. Over a three-year period around
9% of teenagers were engaged in marginal activities, and this translates into a large number of
young people whose future may be very constrained. The authors suggest there is a need to
minimise early school leaving and at the same time take early action to ensure that early leavers
have more structured employment and training options. They also suggest it is imperative that
economic development produce more full-time jobs, though improvements to access to education
and training must continue to be a priority

Full-time jobs are gradually being replaced by part-time casual jobs the majority of which are highly
concentrated in low-skill occupations (Wooden 1998). The incidence of part-time employment
approximately doubled between the 1970s and the mid 1990s. Wooden, Robertson and Dawkins
(1994), using ABS data, show that part-time jobs consisted of 10.6% of all jobs in 1970 but by 1994
this had increased to 24%. Young people were central figures in this increase: in 1970 15-19 year
olds accounted for 8.6% of total part-time employment but by 1990 their share was 17%. Teenagers
still at school accounted for 2.4% of all part time jobs in 1971 but by mid-1990 the corresponding
figure was 10%.

The new part-time casual jobs appear to be largely consistent with the preferences of young people
still involved in full-time education. However, for non-students the exposure to low-skilled, casual
jobs rather than more training-intensive jobs may be problematic in the light of the observations
about links between education and training and future well-being made earlier. Wooden and
VandenHeuvel (1999) believe attention needs to be paid to the reasons behind the de-skilling of
jobs for young adults’ over the past five years as this is not a trend observed for older adults.

      The fact that such a trend is observed concurrently with an increase in rates of
      participation in education may mean that the supply of highly educated youth is
      outstripping demand. Also if de-skilling of jobs for this age group continues, skills



                                                        Youth participation in education – Resource review   19
            acquisition as a solution to long-term unemployment will simply serve to delay the
            entry of these young people into the full-time labour market but will not provide
            them with employment commensurate with their skills (Wooden & VandenHeuvel
            1999 p52).

     The concentration of teenage employment in small firms – in 1993, 43% of teenage employees
     were employed in businesses with fewer than 20 employees compared with only 22% of adults
     (Wooden 1998, p.41) - is further cause for concern since small businesses are less likely to invest in
     training.


     xiii) Demographic change
     This is a key factor that will affect education participation rates considerably. Any attempts to offset
     this will be a serious challenge. Jackson (2002 p2 forthcoming) looks at the effects of population
     ageing on the younger age groups and projects that by 2011 Tasmania will be Australia’s oldest
     State and will be the first State/Territory to enter natural decline. Jackson says the decline is not
     being caused by very low fertility but by a sizable bite in the age structure over the key reproductive
     ages and is offset by the fact that in the decade to 2000 Tasmania experienced a net loss of over
     19,000 people aged 18-38 years – or 12.5% of those at these ages (2002 p 4). Japan is acknowledged
     as the world’s oldest and fastest ageing population and Jackson believes that Tasmania has more in
     common with the speed of ageing of Japan’s population than Australia’s.

     In the next several decades Jackson asserts there will be dramatic changes in the size of all age
     groups but most particularly those at the oldest and youngest age groups and in the ratios between
     them (2002 p 6). There will be a substantial drop in numbers in the 6-11, 12-16 and 17-24 years age
     groups. The number of students participating in Year 10, 11, 12 and in TAFE and higher education
     will be similarly reduced. Jackson (2002 p 10) predicts that TAFE and university participation rates
     will be further affected by the decrease in the labour force entry-exit ratio (or the decrease in the
     number of young people reaching the age of labour force entry to those approaching retirement
     and leaving). She suggests that this will increase the demand for the labour of youth and it will be
     strongly competed for. Such a situation could see a reduction, rather than an increase in TAFE and
     university participation. This opinion is echoed by many, (Wooden 1999; Gregory 1995; Larum &
     Beggs 1989; Karmel 1995; Lewis & Koshy 1997) who believe that the principal driving factor for the
     expansion of participation in education appears to be lack of employment opportunities rather
     than the prospect of increased rewards for education.

     Jackson and Thompson (2002, forthcoming) suggest acceptance of, and preparation for, the
     demographic changes by considering the short- and medium-term measures that might be taken to
     maintain school and university (and labour force) populations at or near their current sizes. They
     also refer to the opportunities that may be provided by the demographic changes. They highlight
     the fact that for the first time in modern human history we can look forward to deepening
     investment in human capacity, rather than always having to stretch limited dollars across more and
     more people.


     10. The impact of government policies on participation in education
         and training
     Government policies and changes to these policies, in particular changes in educational financing,
     have enormous potential to affect participation in education and training. In Australia, the intro-
     duction of HECS has been suggested by many as a factor that has contributed to the low rate of
     higher education participation of individuals from low socio-economic groups.

     Marginson (1998) showed that in 1996 56.5% of all students elected to pay their HECS on a
     deferred basis through the tax system, 23.1% paid at the point of enrolment, 12.8% paid upfront
     tuition fees (including international and postgraduate students) and the remainder had their fees
     paid by a third parties or were exempt.



20   Youth participation in education – Resource review
Financial returns to undertaking higher education have been found to have remained high after the
introduction and changes to HECS and, as has already been mentioned in relation to socio
economic status, HECS did not appear to have substantially affected the level of applications or
enrolments of students in general (Andrews 1999). Andrews (1999 p25) expresses no surprise over
this finding as the HECS payment can be deferred.

Marginson (1998 p97) also indicated that in its first five years HECS had little effect on the socio-
economic composition of higher education. However he believes the 1997 increases in the level of
HECS charges and the introduction of undergraduate fees in 1998 add two new potentially
influential elements to the equation.

The introduction of the Common Youth Allowance in July 1998 was intended to simplify payments
for young people and increase them for young homeless people and some students. The Allowance
was also meant to encourage 16-17 year olds to see that their long-term futures are reliant on their
continuing in full-time education and training (McClelland, MacDonald & MacDonald 1998 p117).

A large number of funding and policy changes may have impacted on the participation and
outcomes of 15-19 year olds in the vocational education and training sector since 1990. Funding
for pre-vocational courses stopped at the end of the 1980s, the Training Guarantee Act was
introduced in 1990, the off-the-job training subsidy component of CRAFT was dropped, except to
group schemes (1990), traineeships were introduced in 1985 and extended to all age groups in
1992, and in 1994 the Working Nation strategy included National Training Wage traineeships that
allowed some traineeships to be all-on-the-job and encouraged the penetration of traineeships into
new areas of the labour market. In 1993 an ANTA agreement introduced changes in inter-
government arrangements for the governance and management of TAFE and training based on a
national cooperative system. To overcome a perceived funding imbalance between TAFE and
schools and universities the Commonwealth injected an additional $70million of growth funds in
each year from 1993 to the VET sector. In 1995 the Australian Vocational Training System was
introduced building on apprenticeships and traineeships and introducing changes to curriculum
and assessment, conversion of courses to a competency base and recognition of prior learning.
Overall, however, Robinson and Ball (1998) concluded that participation rates by 15-19 year olds in
vocational education and training have remained unchanged over the 1990s but the training
agreement arrangements and courses being undertaken by the group have changed. There has been
a shift away from apprentices training in the vehicle and building occupational groups since 1990,
consistent with the decline in demand for these skills. Expansion of traineeships since 1990 has
expanded entry level training notably in the ‘clerks’ and ‘salespersons and personal service workers’
occupational groups. A large proportion of apprentices and trainees in the 15-19 year age group are
training in industries that are forecast to decline relative to other industry sectors to 2000-01.
Research suggests that there are substantial advantages to individuals who undertake vocational
education, particularly in the initial years of employment. Entry-level training continues to be
important because the notion of continual skills upgrading of employees has not yet become
ingrained across industries.

Technological change and globalisation has rendered obsolete the notion that getting skills virtually
guaranteed better jobs, higher wages and greater economic security (Loble 2001). There is now
general agreement that we must raise educational sights and attainment to open up opportunities
for national progress but Loble believes that educational strategies alone will be insufficient (2001
p146).

As has been mentioned already, Buchanan and Bretherton (1999) stated the need for public policy
to establish a better matching of employment and education arrangements, to achieve a better fit
between work and education and to see if activities in these separate spheres can be mutually
reinforcing instead of co-existing in totally unconnected ways.

McKenzie (2000) states that it has been a major objective of government policy to strengthen or
even create pathways that connect schooling and work for the majority of young people who



                                                        Youth participation in education – Resource review   21
     neither enter university nor obtain an apprenticeship after leaving school. Another objective has
     been to help young people navigate their way through the increasingly complex array of education
     and training options that are now available.

     Over the last decade McKenzie believes that many steps have been taken to improve the education-
     to-work transition and he lists these as:

        x the development of a national framework for education and employment policy within a
          federal political structure

        x curriculum and financing changes that have helped lift education participation rates

        x the attempts to strengthen linkages between the education sector and enterprises

        x the emphasis on providing young people with multiple pathways, including more vocation-
          ally oriented options in secondary school

        x flexible delivery of education and training.

     The challenges remaining are listed as:

        x how to continue reforming upper secondary education so that it is relevant and inclusive for
          the whole age group and not just those oriented to higher education

        x how to strengthen education-industry partnerships where there is limited tradition of this
          type of relationship

        x how to better meet the needs of the 15-20% of young people who are at greatest risk of not
          finding suitable employment

        x the need to clarify the respective responsibilities of the Commonwealth, the States, and
          public and private institutions for policy development and program delivery

        x how to generate employment growth – answers to transition problems have to be also found
          on the demand side of the youth labour market, and not just on the supply side where most
          of the attention seems to have been directed (McKenzie 2000 p10)

     The Prime Minister’s establishment of the Youth Pathways Action Taskforce in late 1999 is an
     attempt to develop a set of policy directions that will provide a more coherent notion of pathways
     for all young people, with particular attention to those for whom secondary schooling is least
     attractive and who may lack access to other social support services. McKenzie notes (2000 p11) that
     the Taskforce’s terms of reference are concerned with young people’s transition to independence
     not just work, indicating recognition of the many and inter-related transitions occurring in young
     people’s lives.

     McKenzie shows that those who leave school early find it harder to overcome any initial poor start
     in the labour market and face greater risks of exclusion in a society that requires active learning
     over the lifespan (2000 p11). He believes that important and valuable policies will be those that
     reduce the incidence of early school leaving, improve the information and counselling available to
     young people and their families, track the experiences of school leavers, and intervene at an early
     stage to assist those at risk in the transition process. McKenzie also suggests that prevention is
     central; through improving young people’s foundation skills for lifelong learning and providing
     learning environments that are attractive and relevant to the great majority of the young (2000
     p11).

     Commonwealth government policy in general has sought to broaden the social, educational and
     occupational composition of the potential pool of entrants to higher education. A major focus has
     been the participation of indigenous students and between 1994 and 1996 the number of Aboriginal
     and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled increased from 6264 to 6956 (Marginson 1998).



22   Youth participation in education – Resource review
There are other examples of national policies that generally encourage higher participation rates.
The Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century (MCEETYA 1999)
states that “all students have access to the high quality education necessary to enable the
completion of school education to Year 12 or its vocational equivalent and that provides clear and
recognised pathways to employment and further education and training.”

The Australian National Training Authority Strategy for Vocational Education and Training A Bridge
to the Future (ANTA 1999) lists five objectives identified by the ANTA Ministerial Council. These are:
equipping Australians for the world of work, enhancing mobility in the labour force, achieving
equitable outcomes in vocational education and training, increasing investment in training, and
maximising the value of public vocational education and training expenditure.

The Federal government’s higher education objectives set out in Higher Education Report for the 1999-
2003 Triennium (DETYA 1999b) are to expand opportunity, assure quality, improve universities’
responsiveness to varying student needs and industry requirements, advance the knowledge base
and contribute to national and global innovation and ensure public accountability for cost-effective
use of public resources.

At a meeting in Adelaide in April 1999, the Ministerial Council for Education, Employment
Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) identified the following elements as priorities for action in
1999-2004: further expansion of VET in Schools and part-time New Apprenticeships for senior
secondary schools; specific measures to address organisational and cultural change in schools; intro-
duction of specific strategies to improve access for students in rural and remote areas and for educa-
tionally disadvantaged students; and establishment of arrangements for the assessment of CVET to
provide a direct contribution to tertiary entrance scores in order to ensure that genuine pathways
exist.



Conclusion
In conclusion, the review findings show that the barriers to education and training of disadvan-
taged groups at social, economic and cultural levels, are so pervasive that only political leadership
through government policy initiatives, and concerted educational and community collaboration to
achieve goals set, will bring about any sort of improvement. This is why the Tasmania Together
process, and all that has sprung from it, are so important for the well-being of the whole Tasmanian
community.




                                                        Youth participation in education – Resource review   23
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