Secondary students’ access to careers information: the role of socio-economic background

JournalThe Australian Educational Researcher
AuthorsMichael Dockery, Sherry Bawa, Jane Coffey
PublishedAugust 2021
Research ThemesEducation and Skills

This paper focusses on how careers advice provided to Australian secondary school students varies according to students’ socio-economic background. National data for students in Years 11 and 12 from five cohorts of the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth initiated between 1998 and 2015 are analysed.

Students from higher socio-economic backgrounds are found to be more likely to access multiple forms of careers information, particularly information relating to university entrance, compared to students from low-SES backgrounds. Conversely, students from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to receive information on pathways to non-professional vocations. This socioeconomic divide has become more pronounced over time.

Importantly, access to nonprofessional careers information appears to have declined over time, while there is evidence to suggest this form of advice is more highly valued by students of low-socioeconomic background relative to those of high-socioeconomic background.