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University proves attractive over trades

The Australian   |   6 May 2014

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ncver news

A study by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), to be released next month, shows the expanding university system is affecting the recruitment of apprentices.

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The report, based on Longitudinal Study of Australian Youth data, compares the experiences of young men born in about 1980 and 1991.

It finds that young people who left school late last decade were more likely to go to university than those who finished their secondary education 10 years earlier.

This has “unambiguously” impacted on the quality of appren¬tices, says the report, which is due to be released next month. It says apprenticeships are increasingly going to people who scored among the lowest 40% in Year 9 high school reading and maths exams. Expansion of higher education has also shifted the distribution of university students away from the top band and towards the bottom 60%,“with a noticeable decline in the proportion of male university students in the top quintile.”

Increasing university participation has not reduced overall apprentice numbers because apprenticeship ranks have been replenished by people who would have neither studied nor trained in earlier times.

The NCVER report reinforces assumptions that, given the choice, young people tend to prefer university over training.

Those with a high probability of going to university are much less likely to undertake an apprenticeship. Statistical testing justifies the assumption that going to university is the dominant decision … over and above any arguments about the status of apprenticeships relative to university.

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