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Report on Government Services 2024


B Child care, education and training

Data downloads

These data tables relate to the sector as a whole. Data specific to individual service areas are in the data tables under the relevant service area.

Note: Data tables are referenced by table xA.1, xA.2, etc, with x referring to the section or overview. For example, table BA.1 refers to data table 1 for this sector overview.

Main aims of services within the sector

Child care, education and training (CCET) services aim to care for and develop the capacities and talents of children and students, to ensure that they have the necessary knowledge, understanding, skills and values for a productive and rewarding life.

Services included in the sector

  • Early childhood education and care (ECEC)
    Services related to early childhood and out-of-school care, comprising child care and preschool services.
  • School education
    Formal schooling, consisting of six to eight years of primary school education followed by five to six years of secondary schooling.
  • Vocational education and training (VET)
    Tertiary education delivered by technical and further education (TAFE) institutes and other VET providers.
  • Higher education – education delivered by universities (not included as a service-specific chapter in this report).

Detailed information on the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of service provision and the achievement of outcomes for the ECEC, Schools and VET service areas is contained in the service-specific chapters.

Government expenditure in the sector

Total government recurrent expenditure for CCET services for the latest years covered in this report was $100.4 billion. School education was the largest contributor ($78.7 billion in 2021-22, table 4A.1), followed by ECEC ($14.6 billion in 2022-23, table 3A.1) and VET ($7.1 billion in 2022, table 5A.1). For the 2021-22 financial year (the most recent financial year for which data is available across all sections) this represented 28.3% of total government expenditure covered in this report.

For higher education, expenditure data is not collected for this report, but in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Government Finance Statistics (GFS), Annual report1 it was around $32.1 billion in 2021‑22 (ABS unpublished).

Flows in the sector

The formal education and training system starts at preschool and continues through the years of compulsory schooling (generally to Year 10 – see sub-section 4.1, section 4) and post-school education. ECEC services provide education and care to children aged 0–12 years from infancy to preschool and out-of-school care during the primary school years (figure B.1). Formal learning does not always progress in a linear fashion from preschool to school (primary and secondary) to VET or university, as there are many learning pathways an individual may take over their lifetime.

Figure B.1 Outline of the Australian child care, education and training systema, b, c

Figure B.1 – Diagram showing an outline of the Australian child care, education and training system. The formal education and training system starts with child care and preschool and progresses up through primary education, secondary education, senior secondary to higher education or vocational education and training.

There are different starting ages and names for preschool (see section 3, table 3.1) and school education (see section 4, context) across jurisdictions. b In 2022, Year 7 is the first year of secondary schooling in all states and territories in Australia. c Providers can deliver qualifications in more than one sector, all subject to meeting the relevant quality assurance requirements.

Source: Australian, state and territory governments (unpublished).

Participation in education and training is particularly important for young people. Nationally in 2023, 61.1% of people aged 15-⁠24 years were enrolled in education and training (81.0% of people aged 15–19 years and 42.9% of people aged 20–24 years), compared to 7.8% of people aged 25–64 years (figure B.2).

Young people’s successful transition from compulsory schooling to education, training and employment is particularly important, with a positive relationship between completion of Year 12 and subsequent engagement (figure B.3). Nationally in 2023, 76.2% of school leavers aged 17–24 years were fully participating in education, training or employment or both, an increase from 75.9% in 2022.

The 2021 Census results found 70.2% of the 1.9 million school leavers aged 17–24 years were fully engaged in either study or employment or both (table BA.3). Data by Indigenous status are in table BA.4 and by Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) quintiles are in table BA.5.

Nationally in 2023, 74.6% of people aged 20–64 years had or were working towards a non-school qualification, up from 74.4% in 2022 (table BA.6). Similar results (73.5%) were reported in the 2021 Census (table BA.7). Census data by Indigenous status are in table BA.8.

Sector-wide indicators

This overview reports on two sector-wide indicators of governments’ aim to develop the capacities and talents of children and students to ensure necessary knowledge, understanding, skills and values for a productive and rewarding life:

  • Achievement of foundation skills – the literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skill levels of Australian adults.
  • Attainment of qualifications –⁠ proportion of people aged 20–64 years with qualifications at Certificate III level or above.

High or increasing levels of the achievement of foundation skills or attainment of qualifications indicates an improvement in education and training outcomes.

Achievement of foundation skills

Achievement of foundation skills is a proxy indicator as it measures only a subset of the skills and values needed for a productive and rewarding life. However, foundation skills including the ability to read, write and engage with technology, are a critical foundation for participating in education, training and secure work and active participation in the community. Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) is leading the development of a new national study on adult literacy, numeracy and digital skills with data to be considered for reporting against this indicator in future years. More information on the project is available on the JSA website.

Attainment of qualifications

Attainment of qualifications is a proxy indicator for skills as it understates the skill base because it does not capture skills acquired through partially completed courses, courses not leading to a formal qualification, and informal learning.

Nationally in 2023, 65.7% of people aged 20–64 years had a qualification at Certificate III level or above, slightly down from 66.2% in 2022 (figure B.4). Qualification rates at Certificate level III or above are highest for people aged 35–39 years (tables BA.9 and BA.10). Data by Indigenous status are in table BA.11. Data for people aged 20–24 years who have completed Year 12 (or equivalent) or Certificate III level or above by remoteness are in table BA.12. Results from the Census are in table BA.13.

In 2023, 90.4% of people aged 20–24 years had completed year 12 (or equivalent) or Certificate II level or above (table BA.14). Census data by Indigenous status are in table BA.15.


ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) unpublished, Government Finance Statistics, Annual, 2021-22, Canberra.


  1. Expenditure data from the GFS is not comparable to expenditure data collected for this report. Locate Footnote 1 above

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Current as at 05 / 02 / 2024

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