National Report on Schooling Australia 2012
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 targets to lift the Year 12 or equivalent attainment rate. Specifically, COAG agreed to a target for 2015 that 90 per cent of 20 to 24-year-olds will have achieved Year 12 or equivalent or an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificate II or above, and a target 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.¹
National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions
To support achievement of the attainment targets, to increase the educational participation and attainment of young people and to improve their transition to post-school education, training and employment, COAG established the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions which includes the Compact with Young Australians. This national partnership runs from July 2009 to December 2013 and includes $708 million of project and reward funding.
Compact with Young Australians
The Compact with Young Australians 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) until they have completed 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 had been introduced in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania between 2006 and 2008, and, in 2010 the national participation requirement came into effect in New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. This extended the period of compulsory education (or training) for young people in these jurisdictions, and effectively raised 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 makes those expectations consistent across the country.
• Strengthened participation requirements for some types of income support, by which people under 21 must have completed Year 12 or equivalent or be participating full-time in education or training in order to be eligible for a government youth allowance.
• An entitlement to an education or training place for 15 to 24-year-olds.This expired in December 2011, having been embedded in state and territory policies.
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 in education and work.
Under the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions, 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 bodies, 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.
Trade Training Centres in Schools Program
The Trade Training Centres in Schools Program is providing $2.5 billion in the period 2008–18 to enable secondary students in Years 9 to 12 to access vocational education and training (VET) through new or upgraded trade training centres. More than $1.2 billion has been approved for more than 370 centres involving over 1,060 secondary schools across Australia.
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
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) is an agreed strategy for supporting senior schooling and youth transitions under the Melbourne Declaration.
Through the National Partnership Agreement on the Digital Education Revolution (DER), the Australian Government is providing more than $2.1 billion over six years from 2008 to 2013 to:
• provide new ICT equipment for all secondary schools with students in Years 9 to 12 through the National Secondary Schools Computer Fund
• 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.
Career Development Resources
The Australian Blueprint for Career Development is a joint initiative of the Australian and state and territory governments under SCSEEC, first published in 2008. It provides teachers, careers advisers, employment service providers and other careers practitioners with a nationally consistent 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. A review of the blueprint was conducted in 2012.
Another joint initiative of Education Ministers is Australia’s national career information and exploration service, the myfuture website. The myfuture website helps school students and others to make informed career decisions, plan career pathways and manage work transitions. In 2012, an extensive consultation process to update the website and improve its interactive functionality was begun.
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 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 qualification levels within the AQF.