The outcomes of education and training: What the Australian research is telling us, 2011-14

Written by Francesca Beddie, Francesca Beddie & Associates, National Centre for Vocational Education Research


Fundamental Concepts
Defining disadvantage and appropriate measures
- Low socioeconomic status
- Disengagement
- Reconceptualising equity
Individual motivations and nature of pathways
Institutional capacity to respond
- Accommodating disadvantage
- Incentives to reach 'hard to reach' learners
The contribution of education and training to social inclusion
Learning communities
Social mobility and the role of qualifications
Youth at risk and scarring effects
Language, literacy and numeracy skills
Equity groups
- For example, low socioeconomic status, youth, mature age, migrants, Indigenous, rural and remote, disability, gender

While the language in this area of public policy changes from time to time, the reliance on education and training in addressing disadvantage remains constant. When this research priority was formulated, the focus was on ways to define and measure disadvantage and how to better support ‘equity’ groups. The aim was to take the evidence base beyond a further reiteration of the problems to an identification of the solutions.

The research undertaken considered the benefits of education for a wide range of student groups but in particular focused on those who were:

  • growing up or living in low socioeconomic status (SES) households or neighbourhoods
  • of Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander descent
  • limited by their English language ability and/or low levels of formal education
  • older workers (re-)entering the workforce
  • living in a remote area
  • affected by disability.

As Professor Banks noted (in NCVER 2010, p.8), sometimes the usefulness of research lies in its ability to help us to see the problem more clearly or in more depth. This can include thinking about what data to collect or how to collate and analyse it.

It was on this premise that the body of work undertaken by the Melbourne Institute (Promoting social inclusion for disadvantaged groups through education and training) was pursued. The researchers used a multidimensional measure of social exclusion comprising: material resources (household income and expenditure); employment; education and skills (literacy and numeracy, educational attainment, work experience); health and disability; social interactions; community (neighbourhood quality, civic participation, volunteerism); and personal safety. Their work established clear links between education and social exclusion, although low incomes and financial stress were still the larger causes of exclusion. Their strong message was that education’s biggest impact on social inclusion can come from increasing Year 12 completion rates and/or completing certificate level III qualifications. (For a synthesis of this consortia research program see Buddelmeyer & Polidano, forthcoming.)

Continue reading: The Outcomes of Education and Training: What the Australian research is telling us, 2011-14 (1Mb)

Beddie, F. 2015. “The outcomes of education and training: what the Australian research is telling us, 2011—14”. National Center for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), Adelaide: Australia.

Posted 22 May 2015 By ncsehe