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Early school leavers and VET: Research at a glance

By


11 June 1999

ISBN 0 87397 577 4

Description

This Research at a glance explores early school leaving, who early school leavers are, why they leave school early, risk factors and likely outcomes of early school leaving, and the positives and negatives of retention. It examines what is being done for early school leavers through VET in school and post-school settings and identifies major issues and 'best practice' as well as possible directions.

Summary

Executive summary

Introduction

This issue of Research at a glance explores early school leaving who early school leavers are, why they leave early, risk factors and likely outcomes of leaving early, and the positives and negatives of retention. It examines what is being done for early school leavers through vocational learning and VET in school and post-school settings and identifies major issues and best practice , as well as possible directions. It considers education-based policy responses to early school leaving and suggests ways in which more flexible pathways can be articulated and developed in the context of a comprehensive approach which includes education, training, work and the community.

Summary of key issues emerging from the research
  • Early school leaving is an issue internationally. In Australia nearly one in three young people is at risk of not completing secondary education, a situation which will impact on their long-term employment prospects and earning capacity, especially in the context of a declining youth labour market.

  • Early school leaving is a complex issue. There is no such thing as a 'typical' early school leaver. Not all young people leave early for the same reason and their reasons are not necessarily negative ones.

  • There is no infallible predictor for individuals leaving school early, although some groups are particularly 'at risk ' of doing so.

  • A major problem for early school leavers working out their options is the cracked mosaic of fragmented services at the local level.

  • No single action, whether relating to policy, school curriculum, TAFE courses, employment advice or the services provided by a range of agencies, will in itself reduce the risks of early leaving.

  • The key to achieving positive changes, especially at the local level, is the way in which sectors, institutions, organisations and agencies work together to assist young people to prepare for and make their transition to the world of work and adulthood.

  • In the context of more co-ordinated and integrated approaches, vocational learning and VET have a crucial role to play.

  • Both overseas and in Australia there are already working models of more integrated approaches to improving the options for early school leavers. The results are encouraging.

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