Transitions from school to work, university and vocational education – the challenges facing young people in the modern world

Youth unemployment and uncertain transitions from school characterise the experience of young people in many parts of the word. This presentation draws on Australian research to examine the nature and quality of the experience of young people exiting from school. Recent analysis of student transitions data suggest that young people leaving school in Australia (both school completers and early leavers) face challenges entering the labour market. While most young people make a successful transition to university, vocational education or apprenticeships and traineeships, a significant minority face the challenge of fitting into a mainly casual, low-skilled, low-paid youth labour market. This keynote examines what the transition is like for different groups of young Australians – boys and girls, metropolitan and regional youth, lower and higher socio-economic status youth.


Professor John Polesel is Associate Dean (International and Engagement) and Director of the Centre for Vocational and Educational Policy, in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. Professor Polesel is a leading scholar in post-compulsory education and training in Australia and internationally. His research interests include issues of inequality, the relationship between schools and vocational training, models of education and training and youth transitions in Australia and internationally. Professor Polesel has authored or co-authored over 100 journal articles, book chapters and commissioned reports, including in some of the most prestigious international journals, such as the Journal of Educational Policy. He has played a leading role in winning and conducting over sixty major educational research grants and consultancies, focussing on young people and education.