Senior secondary workplace learning and transition success in Australia

Sinan Gemici, David Curtis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the effectiveness of participation in workplace learning among senior secondary students in Australia. Work placements are deemed to be effective if they meet policy objectives of improving student transitions by (a) enhancing Year 12 completion rates and (b) increasing the engagement of participants in post-school work or study. Engagement is defined as full-time study, full-time work, some full-time/part-time combination, or two simultaneous part-time engagements (e.g. part-time work and part-time study). Design/methodology/approach: Propensity score matching is used to address selection bias into work placements. After controlling for numerous student background characteristics and creating equivalent comparison groups, we estimate the influence of participation in work placements on Year 12 completion and post-school engagement. Findings: It is found that participation in work placements during Year 11 is associated with a 5.2 percent increase in Year 12 completion and a 3.8 percent increase in full-time engagement one year after the modal Year 12 completion age. Research limitations/implications: The study is somewhat limited by its moderate sample size (n=880; 440 workplace learning participants matched with 440 comparable non-participants). Moreover, it seems likely that considerable variation exists in the quality of workplace learning programmes. It would be useful to examine what specific qualitative aspects of work placements produce positive transition outcomes. Practical implications: The findings suggest potential benefits from increasing participation in work placements during Year 11 for students who undertake vocational education and training in schools (VETiS) and those who are lower-achieving. Originality/value: Previous research has questioned the value of VETiS for Year 12 completion, and the overall benefit of Year 12 completion to lower-achieving students. This paper expands on the extant literature by suggesting that participation in workplace learning may contribute to more successful transition outcomes for lower-achieving students and those taking VET courses.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)36-49
    Number of pages14
    JournalEducation and Training
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


    • Australia
    • Post-school engagement
    • VET in schools
    • Workplace learning
    • Year 12 completion
    • Youth transitions


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