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Growing Number Of Year 12 Graduates Opt For Workforce Over Traditional Education Paths

A growing number of year 12 graduates in Australia are choosing to enter the workforce directly, skipping universities or TAFE.

According to the latest data from the Education Department, 24.3 per cent of students who completed year 12 in Victoria in 2021 found employment the following year, marking the lowest university enrolments since 2014. 

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This trend is evident due to the effects of the ongoing pandemic and students’ decisions to defer higher education plans.

Paul Guerra, the CEO of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, believes that this shift reflects a new generation’s mindset.

“It’s got to do with the next generation coming through that have a belief that they’ll have a career of learning which won’t automatically start in TAFE or university, but they will take opportunities along the way to either go back to university or TAFE to get the skills as they need,” he told The Age

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However, some experts caution that entering the workforce without adequate training could have potential downsides. 

Dr Stephen Billett, a professor of adult and vocational education at Griffith University, suggests little training could leave young graduates underprepared for changing job markets and limit their career growth prospects.

“For young people who move directly into the workforce without securing structured occupational preparation and certification, there is the risk of engaging in working life that will be always perilous.” 

Most year 12 graduates (72.2 per cent) continue to pursue education and training, with the most popular fields of study being health, society and culture, and management and commerce. 

The shift has marked the lowest university enrolments since 2014’s year 12 class, with 52.3 per cent studying a bachelor’s degree.

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