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Apprentices aren’t what they used to be, or are they?

NCVER   |    22 May 2014

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Some young people, who may have undertaken an apprenticeship in the past, are now capitalising on the availability of more university places and pursuing tertiary education. This is having a slight effect on the calibre of apprentices, according to a report released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

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Using data from the 1995 and 2006 Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY), The impact of increasing university participation on the pool of apprentices, investigates how a general expansion of the higher education sector has impacted the quality of the apprenticeship cohort.

“The underlying idea is that with a general increase in the availability of university places, more young people may pursue higher education rather than an apprenticeship”, said Rod Camm, Managing Director, NCVER.

“It is possible that these university entrants might have been higher achieving apprentices, resulting in a dilution of the overall academic quality of the apprenticeship cohort”.

A second issue investigated was whether the general expansion of higher education has resulted in greater access to university for young people from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds.

“The research found that between 1995 and 2006, the proportions of young people who undertook university study or an apprenticeship grew. It was identified that there was a small decrease in the academic quality of both cohorts during this period,” said Mr Camm.

In terms of equity, the paper found that the expansion of higher education has primarily come from those young people with higher SES backgrounds, whereas the growth in apprenticeships has been from those with lower SES backgrounds.
“Proportionally, this means more young people from high SES backgrounds are likely to fill the newly-created university places,” said Mr Camm.

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