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Taking Stock of Australian Qualifications - A More Complete Picture

Taking Stock of Australian Qualifications - A More Complete Picture image

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has released a Research Report highlighting the stock of qualifications in Australia with a more concerted focus on nationally recognised training.

Formal qualifications are a key mechanism for skilling the Australian workforce and are underpinned by a robust framework that defines intended learning outcomes in terms of knowledge and skills, and their application. 

Having an overview of the stock of qualifications in the economy is therefore an important precursor to understanding the available stock of skills, which in turn informs supply and demand issues such as skills utilisation and skills gaps. 

Information on qualifications is often collected by labour force surveys or census data, but these statistics typically include only information on the highest level of qualification held, whereby vocational education and training (VET) qualifications are under reported.

This research project estimates and describes the stock of qualifications in the Australian economy using data from the 2018—19 Qualifications and Work survey, compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and provides a particular focus on vocational education and training (VET). 

Accompanying the report is a suite of info graphics which summarise key findings from the analysis, as well as six case study occupations, each highlighting the dynamics of qualifications in different employment contexts. 

Key messages addressed within this research report include:

  • In 2018-19, out of an estimated population of 16.1 million working-age Australians, 10.2 million people reported holding 15.4 million qualifications, including 3.8 million people holding two or more qualifications.
  • VET qualifications outnumbered higher education qualifications by almost one million. Certificates III/IV were particularly prevalent.
  • Around three-quarters of the qualifications held by employed people were in the same field as, or were relevant to, the worker’s job. Among the 3.3 million people with two or more qualifications who were employed at the time of the survey, about a third held at least one qualification that was not at all relevant to their job; often the most relevant qualification to the worker’s job was either not their highest or their most recent qualification.
  • Different qualification profiles were evident in different occupational contexts. Some occupations have more diverse entry pathways than others, with regulation playing a role in some of these pathways.

An important finding from the analysis is that the number of non-school qualifications far exceeded the number of qualified people, highlighting that many people held more than one qualification. 

While most other data sources focus only on the highest non-school qualification held, the Qualifications and Work survey provides data on up to five.  Including up to five qualifications in the analysis scope increased the estimated number of qualifications held by 34% (30.6% for higher education qualifications and 35.1% for VET qualifications).  

This approach gives a much more complete picture of the stock of skills acquired through formal qualifications, with these potentially available to the labour force.

Access the full Research Report here

Date posted Jun 24, 2021

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