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Age group 12 to 17 years

Transition from school

The transition from compulsory and structured schooling into either more unstructured education or employment requires young people to have developed the ability to work independently and with a commitment and enthusiasm for their chosen path. A sense of optimism and opportunity is important for young people to manage this transition successfully. 

Overview and areas of concern

Increasingly, the future of work for young people is recognised as requiring an array of portable skills and capabilities across diverse careers.1,2

In WA, students are required to remain at school or participate in an approved non-school option (such as employment or training) until the end of the year they turn 17 years and six months, or graduate from high school. Young people who remain engaged in education, training or employment following their compulsory school years have better long term prospects in the labour market, and consequently in life.3

Data overview

There is limited robust data reporting on how WA young people feel about their future and their transition from school.

Areas of concern

The lack of data measuring whether WA young people feel ready for the transition from high school and how they experience that transition.

Endnotes

  1. Foundation for Young Australians 2017, The New Work Smarts: Thriving in the New Work Order, Foundation for Young Australians.
  2. Torii K and O’Connell M 2017, Preparing young people for the future of work. Policy Roundtable Report, Mitchell Report No 01/2017, Mitchell Institute.
  3. Ryan C 2011, Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth, Research Report 56: Year 12 completion and youth transitions, National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), p. 8.
Measure: Optimism about the future

Limited information exists about WA young people’s level of optimism for their future, particularly for young people between 15 and 17 years of age. Where data does exist, it often includes young people over the age of 17 years.

In the annual Mission Australia 2017 Youth Survey, 24,055 young people across Australia aged 15-19 years responded to questions across a broad range of topics including education and employment, influences on post-school goals, housing and homelessness, participation in community activities, general wellbeing, values and concerns, preferred sources of support, as well as feelings about the future.

In total, 2,597 young people from WA aged 15 to 19 years responded to Mission Australia’s Youth Survey 2017.1 Mission Australia recommend caution when interpreting and generalising the results for certain states or territories because of the small sample sizes and the imbalance between the number of young females and males participating in the survey.

More than one-half of WA respondents (52.2%) were female and 44 per cent were male. A total of 180 (7.1%) respondents from WA identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.2

In the 2017 survey, young people were asked how positive they felt about the future. WA young people were slightly less optimistic than Australian young people overall, despite there being a small improvement in the WA results from 2016 to 2017.

Feelings about the future of young people aged 15 to 19 years, in per cent, WA and Australia, 2016 and 2017

Australia

WA

2016

2017

2016

2017

Very positive

17.3

15.8

14.3

13.5

Positive

47.1

46.6

44.7

44.3

Neither positive or negative

26.1

27.5

28.5

30.0

Negative

6.5

7.1

7.2

8.2

Very negative

3.0

3.1

5.4

3.9

Source: Mission Australia Youth Survey Report 2016 and 2017.

Of concern is over one in ten respondents aged 15 to 19 years from WA felt very negative (3.9%) or negative (8.2%) about the future.

Endnotes

  1. Bullot A et al 2017, Mission Australia’s 2017 Youth Survey Report, Mission Australia, p. 150.
  2. Ibid.
Measure: Feelings about the transition

Limited information exists about the views of WA high school students regarding their transition from high school into further education, employment or other activities.

Post School Intentions and Student Satisfaction Survey

The WA Department of Education conducts the annual Post School Intentions and Student Satisfaction Survey of Year 12 students in government schools. In 2017, 8,504 of 14,032 Year 12 students (semester 2) completed the survey which represents a response rate of 60.6 per cent.1 The response rate for Aboriginal students was 40.7 per cent with only 292 of 718 students completing the survey.

In the survey students were asked: Overall, how satisfied are you with the way the school has prepared you for your career goals? While 71.5 per cent of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied, a significant proportion of students (28.5%) were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. More female Year 12 students were dissatisfied (30.1%) than male Year 12 students (26.9%). Aboriginal students were more likely to be satisfied than non-Aboriginal students, however the low response rate for Aboriginal students may indicate some sampling bias.

Year 12 students’ responses to: ‘Overall, how satisfied are you with the way the school has prepared you for your career goals?’, in per cent, by selected characteristics, WA, 2017

All

Female

Male

Aboriginal

Very satisfied

11.7

11.0

12.4

10.8

Satisfied

59.8

58.9

60.8

64.9

Dissatisfied

22.6

24.5

20.7

21.9

Very dissatisfied

5.9

5.6

6.2

2.4

Source: WA Department of Education: custom report on Post School Intentions and Student Satisfaction Survey prepared for Commissioner for Children and Young People WA (unpublished)

Year 12 students’ responses to: ‘Overall, how satisfied are you with the way the school has prepared you for your career goals?’, in per cent, by remoteness area, WA, 2017

Metropolitan

Inner regional

Outer regional

Remote

Very remote

Very satisfied

11.5

15.9

9.7

10.4

16.0

Satisfied

59.4

60.1

64.6

57.0

57.3

Dissatisfied

23.0

20.0

20.9

24.3

25.3

Very dissatisfied

6.1

4.0

4.8

8.4

1.3

Source: WA Department of Education: custom report on Post School Intentions and Student Satisfaction Survey prepared for Commissioner for Children and Young People WA (unpublished)

* The number of respondents in category ‘very remote’ is <100, consequently results ought to be interpreted with caution.

Students were also asked: Which of the following best describes what you intend to do next year?2 In 2017, 47.1 per cent of Year 12 students in government schools stated they intended to go to university and a smaller proportion intended to go to TAFE (19.3%) or seek an apprenticeship (11.2%).

The annual Mission Australia Youth Survey asks young people aged 15 to 19 years who are still at school, what they are planning to do after leaving school. In the 2017 survey, 63.9 per cent of WA respondents planned to go to university after school compared to 70 per cent nationally. WA respondents were significantly more likely to report planning to go to TAFE or a private college.

Young people aged 15 to 19 years, plans after leaving school, in per cent, WA and Australia, 2016 and 2017

Australia

WA

2016

2017

2016

2017

Attending university

68.7

70.0

57.8

63.9

Getting a job

32.7

32.0

34.9

32.6

Travelling or gap year

29.4

28.8

29.1

22.7

Attend TAFE or private VET college

12.5

11.9

21.3

19.4

Undertake an apprenticeship

8.9

8.1

12.4

9.1

Other

5.6

5.4

7.5

6.0

Source: Mission Australia Youth Survey Report 2016 and 2017.

While going to university was the most frequently chosen option among both female and male respondents from WA, in 2017 a higher proportion of female than male students stated that they planned to do so (66.2% compared with 61.6%). A greater proportion of female respondents also reported plans to travel or go on a gap year after school (32.7% compared with 21.9%) or to go to TAFE or college (21.6% compared with 16.8%). A much larger proportion of male students indicated that they were planning to undertake an apprenticeship (13.4% compared with 5.4% of female students).3

In 2017, respondents were also asked how confident they were in their ability to achieve their study/work goals after school. This question was not asked in 2016.

Confidence of young people aged 15 to 19 years in achieving study/work goals after school, in per cent, WA and Australia, 2017

Australia

WA

Extremely confident

9.7

7.4

Very confident

30.5

28.6

Somewhat confident

40.6

43.1

Slightly confident

16.0

17.0

Not at all confident

3.1

3.9

Source: Mission Australia Youth Survey 2017

In 2017, WA young people participating in the Mission Australia survey were less confident than other young people in Australia regarding their ability to achieve their work and study goals.

The barriers most commonly cited by WA survey participants were academic ability, financial difficulty and mental health. These barriers were in line with national responses. Lack of jobs was equal fourth on the list (12.2%) with admission/job requirements.

The findings of the Mission Australia survey and the Post School Intentions and Student Satisfaction survey cannot be directly compared due to the different sampling frames and research methodologies.

While many young West Australians have higher educational qualifications than previous generations, they face many challenges finding paid employment once they have completed their studies. Some of the key barriers cited by employers with regard to young people applying for work are lack of ‘employability skills’ or work experience.It can therefore be beneficial for students to gain some work experience through part-time work while still at school.

However, there are conflicting views on whether working part-time while still in high school is beneficial over the longer term. Australian research using data from the Longitudinal Surveys of Australia Youth found that the effects of combining school and work of more than ten hours a week had a moderately negative effect on school and post-school study outcomes, but a positive effect on post-school employment outcomes. The negative effects were nevertheless limited overall and were stronger for those who work during Year 10 compared to Year 11 and Year 12.5

The Australian Bureau of Statistics monthly Labour Force report for May 2018 shows that 34 per cent of WA 15 to 19 year-olds are working part-time, while attending school.6 This is consistent with the Mission Australia Youth Survey 2017, in which 36 per cent of WA respondents reported they were working part-time.7

There is no disaggregated data that is regularly reported on WA young people aged 15 to 17 years working part-time while studying.

Endnotes

  1. WA Department of Education: Custom report on Post School Intentions and Student Satisfaction Survey prepared for Commissioner for Children and Young People WA.
  2. WA Department of Education: Custom report on Post School Intentions and Student Satisfaction Survey prepared for Commissioner for Children and Young People WA.
  3. Bullot A et al 2017, Mission Australia’s 2017 Youth Survey Report, Mission Australia.
  4. Department of Jobs and Small Business 2018, Improving the employment prospects of young people: A resource for career practitioners, Labour Market Research and Analysis Branch Department of Jobs and Small Business.
  5. Anlezark A and Lim P 2011, Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth: Does combining school and work affect school and post-school outcomes, Adelaide, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Commonwealth of Australia.
  6. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, 6202: Labour Force Survey, Table 16 – May 2018.
  7. Bullot A et al 2017, Mission Australia’s 2017 Youth Survey Report, Mission Australia, p. 152.
Young people in care

International research consistently shows that young people leaving care are vulnerable to a range of negative outcomes, including unemployment, housing instability and involvement with the criminal justice system.1

In WA, young people in care are deemed independent and no longer under the care of the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities once they turn 18 years of age. These young people are entitled to some additional assistance up to 25 years of age.2

In 2018 the WA Auditor General released a report on Young People Leaving Care. The Auditor General found that in 82 per cent of cases, planning for a young person to leave care did not commence at 15 years of age, as required by the Department’s policy.3

More robust information and data is required that reflects the experiences and views of 15 to 17 year-old young people in care in WA who are approaching the transition to independence.

Endnotes

  1. McDowall JJ 2009, CREATE Report Card 2009 - Transitioning from care: Tracking progress, CREATE Foundation, Sydney, p. 9.
  2. Department of Communities (previously, Child Protection and Community Support) 2015, Leaving Care Policy, Government of Western Australia.
  3. Office of the Auditor General 2018, Young People Leaving Care: report 2, August 2018-19, Office of the Auditor General Western Australia, p. 7.
Young people with disability

Australian young people with disability are more likely to experience social exclusion than young people without disability.

Research using the annual survey of Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) has found that in 2011 young Australians with disability were five times more likely than Australians without disability to experience long-term unemployment and disadvantage. The gap between Australians with disability and those without has widened from 2001 to 2011 in multiple areas, including employment, economic resources being fully engaged in work or education.1 A welcome result is that the gap between Australians with disability and those without has narrowed in attaining Year 12 or equivalent qualifications.

There is no data on WA young people aged 15 to 17 years with disability reflecting their views on transitioning from school or on their expectations for their future.  

Endnotes

  1. Emerson E et al 2013, Left Behind: 2013, Monitoring the social inclusion of young Australians with self-reported long-term health conditions, impairments or disabilities 2001 – 2011 – Technical Report, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, University of Sydney, p. 2.
Policy implications

The transition from high school into either further education or work is a critical period for young people. There are multiple pathways for young people to take during this period including further education at university, vocational education and training or employment, which could be via apprenticeships or traineeships.

In general young people who complete Year 12 tend to have more successful transitions,1 which is why the apparent Year 10 to 12 retention rate is a key measure of wellbeing under the Attendance indicator. However, other pathways can also provide some young people with successful futures. Research has found that apprenticeships and traineeships can also provide similar employment and economic outcomes.2

A critical factor is to keep young people engaged in either study or work through individualised pathways that meet their particular capabilities and interests. When young people are interested, optimistic and can see a future that they feel positive about, they will participate more fully and get better outcomes.

There is limited data about WA young people’s feelings about their transition from school. The data that is available suggests that a significant number (28.5%) of WA Year 12 students in government schools do not feel that their school prepares them for their career goals. No additional data is publically available on why this is the case. School governing bodies should explore these results and consider policy and practices that will address students’ concerns.

Data gaps

Limited data exists on WA young people’s views on their transition from school into further study or employment. In particular, there is no data on the experiences and views of Aboriginal young people and young people with disability.

Without data on this transition it is difficult to assess how the education system is meeting the needs of WA young people.

Endnotes

  1. Ryan C 2011, Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth, Research Report 56: Year 12 completion and youth transitions, National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), p. 8.
  2. Ibid.
Further resources

For more information on young people’s transition from school refer to the following resources: