National Report on Schooling in Australia 2011

National initiatives and achievements

2.5 Supporting senior years of schooling and youth transitions

Australian governments are committed to working with all school sectors to support the senior years of schooling and the provision of high quality pathways to facilitate effective transitions between further study, training and employment (Melbourne Declaration 2008).

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has established a target to lift the Year 12 or equivalent attainment rate to 90 per cent by 2015.¹ Specifically, COAG has agreed to a target for 2015 that 90 per cent of Australian 20 to 24-year-olds will have achieved Year 12 or equivalent or an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificate II or above and for 2020 that 90 per cent of 20 to 24-year-olds will have achieved Year 12 or equivalent or an AQF Certificate III or above.²

To support achievement of this target, to increase the educational engagement and attainment of young people and to improve their transition to post-school education, training and employment, COAG has established the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions which includes the Compact with Young Australians.

Compact with Young Australians

In April 2009, COAG agreed to a Compact with Young Australians. The compact includes three components designed to promote skills acquisition and ensure young people are ‘learning or earning’:

  • A National Youth Participation Requirement which requires all young people to participate in schooling (or an approved equivalent) to Year 10, and then participate full-time (at least 25 hours per week) in education, training or employment, or a combination of these activities, until age 17. Similar requirements were introduced in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania between 2006 and 2008. In 2010, the National Youth Participation Requirement also came into effect in New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. This extends the period of compulsory education (or approved equivalent) for young people in these jurisdictions, and effectively raises the minimum school (or approved equivalent) leaving age. The participation requirement raises expectations about the level of education and training undertaken by Australia’s young people and, for the first time, makes those expectations consistent across the nation.

  • An entitlement to an education or training place for 15 to 24-year-olds, which focuses on attaining Year 12 or equivalent qualifications. Entitlement places are for government-subsidised qualifications, subject to admission requirements and course availability. The education/training place entitlement came into effect for 15 to 19-year-olds from July 2009 and for 20 to 24-year-olds from January 2010 and expired on 31 December 2011, having been embedded in State and Territory policies.

  • Strengthened participation requirements for some types of income support by which young people under the age of 21 who seek income support through the Australian Government’s Youth Allowance (Other) are required to participate in education and training full-time, or participate in part-time study or training in combination with part-time work or other approved activities until they attain Year 12 or a Certificate Level II qualification. (Exemptions apply to this requirement.) A requirement to be in full-time education or training applies to young people whose parents seek the Family Tax Benefit Part A.

The Compact with Young Australians will deliver benefits to young people, to industry and to the Australian economy. It also has significant resource implications for Australia’s schools and publicly funded VET systems, including State and Territory Technical and Further Education (TAFE) systems.

Since the introduction of the compact there have been substantial increases in the apparent rates of student progression and retention to the later years of schooling and in the proportion of 15 to 19-year-olds participating in education and training overall. These developments are reported in Part 4.2: Student participation – progression and retention and Part 6.2: Senior schooling and youth transitions – participation.

National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions

The Compact with Young Australians forms part of the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions. This National Partnership runs from July 2009 to December 2013 and includes $708 million of project and reward funding.

Under the partnership, the Australian Government is providing funding of $608 million over four years for improved youth engagement, attainment and transition arrangements. This is made up of:

  • $288 million to provide services through the Youth Connections program to support young people at risk of not attaining Year 12 or an equivalent qualification. Since 2010, more than 55,000 young people have received support from Youth Connections and, of that number, over 30,000 have re-engaged with education, training or employment.

  • $183 million for the School Business Community Partnership Brokers program, to improve community and business engagement with schools to extend learning beyond the classroom. Partnership Brokers supports 1,450 partnerships involving 4,700 partners (schools, training providers, business and industry community bodes, and parents and families).

  • $106 million for States and Territories to maximise engagement, attainment and successful transitions through the areas of career development, multiple learning pathways and mentoring

  • $30 million for national career development initiatives administered by the Commonwealth.

Further information is available on the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) website.

MCEECDYA strategies to support senior years of schooling and youth transitions

The MCEECDYA commitment to support senior years of schooling and youth transitions and the strategies identified in the Ministers’ four-year plan 2009–12 address the COAG target of raising the rate of completion of Year 12 or equivalent but preceded the agreement for the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions.

Under Ministers’ four-year plan all States and Territories committed to supporting reforms in senior years of schooling and youth transitions and to sharing and learning from each other and from evidence about best practice.

National strategies and actions identified in the four-year plan include:

Trade Training Centres in Schools Program

  • MCEECDYA strategy: increasing access to and participation in high quality, industry-recognised training at Certificate III level for secondary school students, including through Trade Training Centres.

The Trade Training Centres in Schools Program is an important element of the Australian Government’s Education Revolution. It is providing $2.5 billion in 2008–18 to enable secondary students to access vocational education and training (VET) through Trade Training Centres.

Through their education authorities, schools can access funding to build new or upgrade existing trade or vocational education and training facilities. They can do this individually or can cluster together to develop more substantial trade training facilities.
This program supports and complements existing programs for VET in Schools and school-based apprenticeships and traineeships operating in all States and Territories. Under these programs school students are able to combine school study with training towards an accredited AQF VET qualification.

Digital Education Revolution

  • MCEECDYA strategy: ensuring learning in the senior years is supported by access to computers, online tools and resources, and teaching expertise in using information and communication technologies (ICT).

  • Through the Digital Education Revolution (DER), the Australian Government is providing more than $2.1 billion over six years to:

  • provide new information and communication technology (ICT) equipment for all secondary schools with students in Years 9 to 12 through the National Secondary School Computer Fund. The aim of the fund is to achieve a one to one computer to student ratio for all students in Years 9 to 12 by the start of Term 1, 2012.

  • support all teachers in implementing the Australian Curriculum by enhancing the pool of national, State and Territory digital curriculum resources through the Supporting the Australian Curriculum Online program.

  • support four projects under the Information and Communication Technology Innovation Fund to assist teachers and school leaders to embrace technology and encourage teachers to creatively and effectively integrate the use of ICT into the classroom.

  • provide technical advice and support for national initiatives through the National Schools Interoperability Program

  • support the implementation of the Australian Curriculum through the Australian Curriculum Connect project, enabling the use, sharing and discovery of digital resources aligned with the new curriculum.

The DER is governed by the Digital Education Revolution National Partnership agreed in 2009 between the Australian and State and Territory governments and by Digital Education Revolution Funding Agreements between the Australian Government and Catholic and independent education authorities. Further information is available on the DEEWR website.

Australian Blueprint for Career Development

  • MCEECDYA strategy: development and implementation of the Australian Blueprint for Career Development, a national project to develop a framework for lifelong, active career management skills.

The Australian Blueprint for Career Development is a framework for designing, implementing and evaluating career development programs for young people and adults. The blueprint identifies the skills, attitudes and knowledge that individuals need to make sound choices and to effectively manage their careers. Another MCEECDYA initiative, Australia’s national career information and exploration service, the myfuture website, complements the blueprint to provide resources for careers advisers, teachers and students. The myfuture website assists school students and others to make informed career decisions, plan career pathways and manage work transitions.

Targeted support for schools, students and parents

  • MCEECDYA strategy: increasing access to differentiated and coordinated support and assistance for young people likely to disengage or those who have disengaged from education and training.

  • MCEECDYA strategy: ensuring students and parents, particularly those in low socio-economic status schools, have access to extended services such as out-of-school activities and community development resources.

In addition to the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions, the Low Socio-economic Status School Communities National Partnership supports low socio-economic status schools to work with their local communities and parents to provide improved educational outcomes for disadvantaged students. Further information on this partnership is included in Part 2.1: National initiatives and achievements – developing stronger partnerships and on the DEEWR Smarter Schools National Partnerships website.

Further information on senior schooling and transitions including the Key Performance Measures related to this commitment is in Part 6: Senior schooling and youth transitions.

¹ The original target, quoted in the MCEETYA four-year plan 2009–2012, was to lift the Year 12 or equivalent or Certificate II attainment rate to 90 per cent by 2020. This was revised by COAG in April 2009.
² The AQF is the national framework of qualifications in the school, vocational education and training (VET), and higher education sectors in Australia. Certificate II and Certificate III are VET qualifications within the AQF.