Five main pathways in the transition from school to work

Media release

15 July 2019

A new analysis reveals five main pathways taken by young Australians as they transition from school to further study and work, according to a report released today by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

The report School-to-work pathways also identifies factors that influence the chance of young people aged 16 to 25 in taking a particular pathway, offering potential policy cues.

“This study shows us that pathways young people choose to take post-school are growing increasingly diverse, individualised and complex,” said Simon Walker, Managing Director, NCVER.

“This highlights how important it is that we gain a better understanding of the youth transition process.”

The report uses data from the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth to provide a dynamic view of young people’s transition experiences over a 10-year period, from 2006 to 2016.

It reveals five main transition pathways out of school:

  1. Higher education and work
  2. Early entry to full-time work
  3. Mix of higher education and VET
  4. Mixed and repeatedly disengaged
  5. Mostly working part-time.

“Factors shown to influence which pathways the students followed included studying VET subjects at school, individual school achievement and socioeconomic issues,” Mr Walker said.

“VET was involved in several pathways and emerges as an important avenue in the school-to-work transitions that culminate in work at age 25 years.”

In Pathway 2, VET provided an ‘express pathway’ to employment via a short spell of post-school education or training that led to full-time work approximately one year after leaving school.

Almost half had undertaken apprenticeships or traineeships, with the highest occupation group being 'technical and trades'. This pathway resulted in 97.4% being in work at age 25 — the highest proportion of any of the pathways.

Pathway 2 was characterised by more males, while females who undertook VET had more often followed Pathways 3 and 5 and were also mostly in work at age 25 (91.7% and 90.2% respectively).

The report School-to-work pathways and a data visualisation demonstrating the paths young people take are now available on our Portal:

Media enquiries: Helen Wildash M: 0448 043 148 E:

About NCVER: we are the principal provider of research, statistics and data on Australia’s VET sector. Our services help promote better understanding of VET and assist policy-makers, practitioners, industry, training providers, and students to make informed decisions.

This work has been produced by NCVER on behalf of the Australian Government and state and territory governments, with funding originally provided through the Australian Government Department for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business.