by the Editor Is Year 12 the best pathway for your child? As it turns out, experts now say that young people who complete Year 12 tend to make a more successful transition from school to work, but employment outcomes for those who complete an apprenticeship or traineeship are just as good.
Most states and territories require a minimum completion of Year 10, and also have a requirement for young people to remain in some form of education, training or employment until they turn 17. A guide to Leaving School in Australia is available on the ACACA website.
The main options for post-compulsory schooling available to young people in Australia include:
- remaining at school to complete year 12, potentially in conjunction with later university studies or VET
- earlier school leaving with participation in VET
- earlier school leaving without further participation in post-compulsorty education and training.
There are many reasons why a young person may decide to not complete Year 12. Some early school leavers say that school is too boring, too hard, not practical or relevant. Some say that they don't feel valued by their teachers while others simply want to leave so they can look for work. (Opening Doors/ YAPA report). Experts suggest that early school leaving is not a product of any one factor - home, school, or parental attitudes. (David Crosbie, Grassmere Youth Services, Victoria). The reasons for these decisions vary from person to person.
A 2008 study by the Australian Concil for Educational Research (ACER) showed that the great majority of those who did not complete Year 12 were fully engaged in employment, education or training (80 per cent of males and 58 per cent of females). It also found that many young people did not have a realistic plan for achieving their career goals. Twenty percent of those nominating professional careers and one third of those planning trade occupations were intending to gain qualifications below the level typically required for their intended careers.
“It is important that we assist young people in gathering information about career opportunities and about the education and training pathways that are necessary to achieve career goals,” said Professor Geoff Masters of ACER.
New research (June 2011) released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), examined data which tracks young people from the age of 15 to 25 as they move from school to work or further study. The analysis looked at individuals whose decisions to undertake Year 12 are ‘marginal’ - and excluded hose who proceed to full-time university study or full-time courses at VET institutions within two years of completing Year 12.
This study found that, for males, Year 12 completion provides a better transition relative to other pathways, the exception being an apprenticeship. It should be noted, though, that the superiority of an apprenticeship is conditional on obtaining one.
However, for young women, completing Year 12 leads to the best outcomes, followed by completion of a traineeship and completion of an apprenticeship. Young women who complete Year 12 are more likely to be in full-time work or study, spend less time in unemployment and earn more money than those who do not complete Year 12.
Completing a vocational education and training (VET) qualification at certificate II or III level as an alternative to Year 12 leads to worse outcomes on average than completing Year 12. VET certificate levels II or III do not appear to be equivalent to Year 12 in terms of their impact on outcomes for young people early in their working lives.
There is some modest evidence that these qualifications may, indeed, provide some benefits in some outcomes over the longer-term, but they are nothing like the consistent and widespread benefits provided by completion of Year 12, apprenticeships and traineeships.
Dr Chris Ryan, author of the report, said these findings suggest that further effort needs to be devoted to encourage young people to complete their senior school certificates, regardless of their academic orientation.
"Completing Year 12 is beneficial, even for those who don't intend to go onto further study, but there are other pathways available such as apprenticeships that also lead to a successful transition into the workforce, but these alternatives must be completed for young people to see the benefits, "Dr Ryan said.
The supporting role of parents in these decisions is a valuable one, at a time when young people can be ambivalent and confused about their future planning. It may be helpful to also seek the help of careers counsellors at school, youth-focused services, Centrelink and employment networks.
A number of helpful resources can be found in the YourKidsEd section on Post-School Options.
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