Long-Term Outcomes from Australian Vocational Education

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 35/16

Date: 2016


Cain Polidano
Chris Ryan


This study uses longitudinal data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey to study the long-run effects of completing vocational education and training (VET) on a set of labour market outcomes (employment, wages, earnings, hours and occupational status). It uses two novel approaches. First, it uses fixed effects regression methods to estimate effects from acquiring new qualifications. Second, it measures effects of acquiring qualifications at lower, the same and at higher levels than previously attained. This is important, since one half of the VET qualifications observed being completed in the HILDA data are at the same or lower levels. The use of fixed effects generates estimates that differ from those found previously in the literature, at least by gender. Here, the estimated improvements in outcomes for females following the completion of a VET qualification are often larger than they are for males. In the longer term, these results point to considerable stability in estimated effects – significant effects apparent in the first year after course completion tend to remain evident up to five years later. Completed qualifications that are not higher than those already held by individuals do not consistently improve the labour market outcomes studied here, but may provide other benefits.

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