Factors affecting the demand for higher level VET qualifications by students from low SES backgrounds

Monday, June 1, 2015

The influence of student socio-economic status (SES) on participation and achievement in education and training has long been recognised. It is well known that people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds are less represented in higher level VET qualifications (variously defined as Certificate III or Certificate IV and above) and in higher education.

In order to explore the reasons for low participation by students from low Socio Economic status in higher level VET, the NSW Skills Board has commissioned a research project. The project findings are expected to inform policy interventions and strategies to increase participation in higher VET qualifications. The research will explore the following:

  • How do the VET participation and completion rates of low SES students compare with those of higher SES students? What are the equivalent rates for higher education? 
  •  What factors – including prior academic achievement, expectations, financial factors and anticipated labour market outcomes – influence the level of VET course chosen by students of different socioeconomic backgrounds? 
  •  How responsive to change are those factors?
  • What interventions are required to increase the proportion of students from low SES backgrounds in higher level VET?

The project will pull together findings from the range of studies that have been conducted in relation to socioeconomic status, academic achievement and post- school destinations - in particular, level of VET study - to explore what factors may be relevant in changing demand  for higher level VET among students from low SES backgrounds. This is an essential step to exploring and formulating specific interventions to encourage low SES students to undertake higher level VET qualifications. Interventions might include promotion to school students or to actively focus on students already in lower level VET qualifications, to encourage them to progress to higher level study. The research is being undertaken by the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.