Notes on the data: Education

Participation in vocational education and training - Aboriginal/ non-Indigenous/ total population, 2017


Policy context: Vocational education and training (VET) refers to post-compulsory education and training (excluding degree and higher level programs delivered by further education institutions) which provides people with occupational or work-related knowledge and skills [1]. VET also includes programs which provide the basis for subsequent vocational programs. VET qualifications include certificates, diplomas, trade certificates, traineeships and other qualifications awarded by Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges and other training providers [2]. VET programs may be government-funded, or delivered on a fee-for-service basis by public or private providers. For school-aged participants, VET programs offer industry-specific skills and pathways to further study and initial employment opportunities [2].

Participation in VET programs is higher among the Indigenous population than the non-Indigenous population. For many younger Indigenous Australians, VET is principally an alternative to schooling as a means for continuing education and training, while for younger non-Indigenous Australians, it complements twelve years of schooling [3].


  1. Naidu R, Stanwick J, Frazer K. Glossary of VET, National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), Adelaide. 2013.
  2. Gørgens T, Ryan C. The impact of additional educational qualifications for early school leavers. Canberra: Department of Education, Science and Training; 2006.
  3. Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) Taskforce on Indigenous Education. Exploring multiple pathways for Indigenous students: discussion paper. Carlton, Victoria: Curriculum Corporation for MCEETYA; 2001.

Notes: Vocational education and training (VET) data includes all VET activity delivered in Australia to Australian residents by government providers (TAFE institutes, Universities and other government providers), community education providers, enterprise providers, private training providers and schools.

Note that student counts may be inflated as it is possible for students to attend multiple training providers within one collection period.

Details of data presented

Separate data are presented for:

  • Aboriginal population participation in VET
  • Non-Indigenous population participation in VET
  • Total population participation in VET
The difference between the total population figures and the sum of Aboriginal and non-Indigenous figures arises from unknown Indigenous status and data compilation issues.


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintiles and Remoteness Areas


Numerator: Aboriginal/ non-Indigenous/ total students participating in vocational education and training


Denominator: Aboriginal/ non-Indigenous/ total population


Detail of analysis: Indirectly age-standardised rate per 100 population; and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard



Aboriginal & non-Indigenous population: Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research Ltd., 2017; and the Aboriginal estimated resident population as at 30 June 2016, developed by PHIDU based on the ABS Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016.

Total population: Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research Ltd., 2017; and the ABS Estimated Resident Population, 30 June 2016.


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