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The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of university and vocational education, and other influences on a variety of labour market outcomes for Australian youths aged between 16 and 25. The six labour market outcomes investigated are: occupational status, hourly and weekly earnings, employment, unemployment and full-time work. The study finds that a bachelor’s degree has clear positive effects on each of these youth labour market outcomes, in contrast to vocational qualifications. Among men, vocational qualifications show no sizable positive effects on these outcomes. Among women, the higher-level vocational diploma is beneficial for employment and unemployment. In no instance are the positive effects of vocational education stronger than that for a bachelor’s degree. Many of these labour market outcomes are strongly associated with prior experiences of employment and unemployment. The findings suggest that policies, rather than focusing on expanding and reforming vocational education, should aim to ensure that young people quickly secure employment, preferably full-time, and avoid unemployment.

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Journal Article

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