Connect the Dots: Education and Employment in Australia

  • Dec 01, 2019 AEDT
  • Team Kalkine
Connect the Dots: Education and Employment in Australia

Education and employment are highly correlated with each other as education is an essential requirement for jobs in the urban sectors. Education prepares an individual for performing the duties a job requires, giving an opportunity to grow and prosper. Given this background, let us evaluate how education and employment are connected in Australia.

Establishing Relationship between Education and Work in Australia

A recently released Survey of Education and Work conducted across Australia in May 2019 and published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in November 2019, revealed that nine out of ten Australians were engaged in work or study or both in 2019. The survey highlighted the following statistics for 2019:

  • Around 3.0m people or 92 per cent of the young Australians (15-24 years age group) were studying or doing at least some work or a combination of both.
  • About 13.6m people or 83 per cent of working age Australians (15-64 years age group) were either fully engaged or partially involved in work and/or study.
  • In the age group of 15-64 years, it was more common for men (78 per cent) than women (53 per cent) to be fully indulged in studying full-time, working full-time or working and studying.
  • Similarly, in the age group of 15-24 years, more young men (83 per cent) were fully engaged in studying full-time, working full-time or working and studying relative to young women (79 per cent).

Distribution of Australians in Education and Work Based on Age-Group

Under the survey, the Australians are being divided as Young Australians (aged 15-24 years), Young Australians not in school (aged 17-24 years) and Working age Australians (aged 15-64 years).

Young Australians

The survey found that 81 per cent of the young Australians (including those in school) were fully involved in work and/or study, while a further 11 per cent were partially engaged. Moreover, about 8.1 per cent of young women and 9.7 per cent of young men were not involved in any work or study in 2019. It was observed that close to two-thirds of young Australians were currently studying in 2019.

The survey highlighted that with an increase in engagement of young women, the difference in rates of non-involvement for young women and men have been converging since 2004. It also added that around 83 per cent of young people living in major cities were fully engaged in work and/or study, while young Australians residing outside major cities were not so engaged.

Young Australians not in school

It was observed that around 74 per cent of the Australians (not in school) aged 17-24 years were completely involved in work and/or further study. In addition, about 36 per cent were engaged in full-time work, and a further 36 per cent were involved in full-time study.

Among all the cities, the highest rate of full engagement (83 per cent) was from the Australian Capital Territory, followed by Victoria (79 per cent).

Working age Australians

Sixty-six per cent of the Australians in the age group of 15 to 64 years (including people still at school) were completely engaged in work and/or study. Moreover, it was less common for women to be completely engaged in work and/or study than men from the age of 20 years.

The survey highlighted that around 18 per cent of men and 21 per cent of women were enrolled in the study in 2019. In May 2019, there were 216k people who were employed as trainees or apprentices, relative to 196k people in 2018, the majority being males.

A Look at Recent Employment and Education Data in Australia

Employment Statistics

Australia is facing a high unemployment level for quite some time now, with its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate recorded at 5.3 per cent in October 2019. As per the ABS, the country observed a decline of 19k people to 12.9m in October, driven by a fall of 10.3k people in full-time employment and 8.7k people in part-time employment. This was the sharpest fall in employment in three years, underlining the requirement for the urgent impetus to stimulate wages and economic activity. Moreover, the country’s participation rate dropped by 0.1 points to 66 per cent during last month.

According to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Deputy Governor, Mr Guy Debelle, the country’s current unemployment rate is very close to the RBA’s expectations. However, he also added that the country is unlikely to observe a substantial rise in wages unless the unemployment falls sustainably.

Education Statistics

The Australian government has recently announced education statistics for September 2019, highlighting an increase in international student numbers during the month. As per Austrade, there were 720k international students in Australia up to September 2019, 11 per cent more than the figure in September 2018.

It was seen that 58 per cent of the international students were from the top five countries, maximum being from China, followed by India, Nepal, Brazil and Vietnam. Moreover, in September, 880k international enrolments were seen. The enrolment numbers surpassed the students count because a student can study in more than one course in one calendar year.

Government’s Support for Education and Employment: Budget 2019-2020

The Australian government announced multiple initiatives to support the country’s education system and the job market in Budget 2019-2020, that are discussed below:


The government’s initiatives focussed on safeguarding vulnerable workers, making sure that the countrymen are fully equipped with the future employment skills and ensuring all companies follow an identical set of workplace rules. Some of the initiatives announced by the government were:

  • Launch of a new employment services model from July 2022: The new model seeks to transform the way employers connect with the appropriate job seekers and job seekers find employment. Before the launch, the government will test aspects of the new model in Mid-North Coast NSW and South Adelaide
  • Harvest Labour Services: From July 2020, the job seekers in the country will be encouraged to undertake seasonal work opportunities via reforms to Harvest Labour Services, that will increase to cover up to 5 new horticulture areas facing labour supply difficulties.
  • Protecting Vulnerable Workers: The government is planning to protect vulnerable workers via the Fair Work Ombudsman, a National Labour Hire Registration Scheme and by increasing focus on delivering education and information to vulnerable migrant workers.


For assisting education, the government estimated a budget of $619.1 million. The investments in education were majorly focused on supporting changes to the policies and systems that provide better education in the country.

The country will:

  • Invest in early childhood development and care, that has been demonstrated to provide high returns, mainly for the most marginalised and poorest children.
  • Invest in quality of the education system at all stages, as it is what matters for economic growth and poverty reduction.
  • Prioritise equity, with a specific focus on disability and gender inclusiveness, as unbiased education systems are also the most efficient.
  • Align skills and education with labour market requirements, via investing in high-quality and relevant secondary and post-secondary education.

Australia's aid helped around more than 880k additional boys and girls to enrol in school in 2017-18; providing training to more than 50k teachers. Over 4.6k men and women obtained recognised post-secondary qualifications in 2017-18.

It is worth noting that the Australian government is focussed on strengthening the education system of the country and stabilising the employment levels together with the RBA.


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