Technical and further education in Australia: 1981 - 2004

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Journal Article
International Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 2005, 13 (1), pp. 23 - 31
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This article provides some data on developments in vocational education in Australia, especially with respect to trade training in technical and further education (TAFE) institutes. From 1981-2004, technical and further education has increased its share of postcompulsory education and training by some three per cent. This increase should have been higher given (a) the demand for places, (b) a long-term decline in the number of apprentices, and (c) the historical importance of technical qualifications in the workforce. Although most employees in Australia who completed a qualification after leaving school have obtained this from TAFE, such vocational education is no longer the educational institution in Australia. This article examines some features of postcompulsory education and training in Australia, especially in regard to technical and further education. It has a narrow but important focus on the structure of postcompulsory education, especially vis-a-vis the share of vocational education and training. In this article, the term technical and further education refers mainly to government-funded postcompulsory education and training up to the advanced diploma level, including trade training. This analysis is unique and is based on data from official statistics published annually for 1998-2004 in 'Education and work' (Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue no. 6227.0), and its predecessors, 'Transition from education to work' (1981-1997). The information was obtained as a supplement to the monthly labour force survey that provides national employment and unemployment figures. It is conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and is based on a random sample of households. All references are to these official statistics.
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