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Post-school Destinations >

Supporting Information





Survey methodology

What does the survey ask?




Effects of rounding

Data editing


Response rates



Year 12 presentation

Further Information



Next Step is an annual suite of surveys that identify the study and work destinations of Queensland school leavers after completing or leaving school early.


Statistical Returns Act 1896


Since 2005, the Queensland Government has conducted an annual survey of Year 12 completers from state, independent and Catholic schools across Queensland. The survey, called Next Step, was commissioned by the department as part of the Schools Reporting initiative and supported the Queensland Government's Education and Training Reforms for the Future (ETRF), which aimed to have every school leaver either learning or earning.

The Early School Leavers survey was designed to closely align with the Next Step survey, and provide complementary results about the destinations of school leavers who did not complete Year 12. Many items exploring main destinations, work and study choices are shared between the two surveys.


The objectives of the suite of surveys are to assist:

Survey methodology

The Next Step suite of post-school destination surveys are undertaken by the Department of Education through the Queensland Government Statistician's Office (QGSO), in accordance with the provisions of the Statistical Returns Act 1896 (Qld). Each of the five surveys follow the methodology outline below:

Prior to the Next Step and Early School Leavers surveys, respondents on the survey frame are sent a letter advising them of the upcoming survey. Participants in the longitudinal studies confirm their ongoing participation at the completion of each round of interviewing; those with mobile phone numbers are also sent an SMS advising them of the upcoming survey.

The QGSO collects responses for the surveys predominantly via computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). For the Next Step and Early School Leavers surveys, students are also offered the opportunity to complete the survey online.

All Next Step survey respondents go into a draw for a chance to win one of several prizes offered as incentives to encourage survey participation.

The QGSO cleans the CATI and online responses and provides the Department with a de-identified unit record file.

The Department creates, validates and releases a report/s.

The Department undertakes an evaluation and review of the end-to-end survey process, and implements improvements to future processes.

What does the survey ask?

The survey asks whether school leavers are currently studying, working or neither, and the details of these destinations.

Download the full questionnaires:

Next Step questionnaire Adobe PDF document101K

Early School Leavers questionnaire Adobe PDF document 84K


The results of the survey are disseminated in the following ways:

Statewide main destination data is also available for download in Excel format:

The survey complements schools' own surveys, by providing statewide data that allows schools to match local trends with statewide trends. It also provides schools with the option of relying upon Next Step survey data for destination information, at no cost to the school.

Survey Findings

When considering the findings of any Next Step suite survey it is important to note that the post-school destinations of all school leavers are influenced by the environment in which they are transitioning into. This can limit the options available to school leavers and alter their intended post-school pathways.

For example, the availability of employment opportunities is dependent on the local and broader macroeconomic outlook. In a tight labour market a school leaver may look at an education or training pathway rather than their initially preferred employment pathway.


Next Step survey

The target population for the Next Step survey is all students who completed Year 12 and gained a Senior Statement in the previous year in Queensland. The survey includes students who completed Year 12 at government schools, Catholic schools, independent schools and TAFE secondary colleges.

Next Step Longitudinal study (Pre-ETRF cohort)

The target population for the Next Step Longitudinal study (Pre-ETRF cohort) is a sample of school leavers who completed Year 12 in 2005 and participated in the 2006 Next Step survey.

Next Step Longitudinal study (Post-ETRF cohort)

The target population for the Next Step Longitudinal study (Post-ETRF cohort) is a sample of school leavers who completed Year 12 in 2010 and participated in the 2011 Next Step survey.

Early School Leavers survey

The target population for the Early School Leavers survey is all students who left Queensland schools in Years 10, 11 or early in the previous year and had not returned to secondary studies at a Queensland school. The survey includes students who left government schools, Catholic schools, independent schools and TAFE secondary colleges. Prior to the 2011 survey only students who left government schools were included.

Early School Leavers Longitudinal study

The target population for the Early School Leavers Longitudinal study is a sample of school leavers who left school in 2010 and participated in the 2011 Early School Leavers survey.


The survey frames for the Next Step and Early School Leavers surveys are derived from administrative records maintained by the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority. The frame for the Early School Leavers survey is supplemented using departmental enrolment records.

Effects of rounding

Percentages in Next Step reports have been rounded to one decimal point and so discrepancies may occur between the sum of component items and their totals.

Data editing

Data editing is performed throughout data entry and after each survey closes. Examples of data editing include checking the data for invalid entries (e.g. entries which were out of range), as well as checking the accuracy of data which was manually entered.


The survey methodology allows for responses to be provided by a proxy. Allowable proxies include parents, siblings and other household members able to respond on behalf of the respondent.

It is possible that some answers supplied by proxies may be different to what would have been stated by the school leavers themselves. Therefore, it should be noted that although it is estimated that this error is small, its impact has not been quantified.

Response rates

Historically, the response rates for the Next Step survey and the three longitudinal studies have consistently been around 80 per cent.

The response rate for the Early School Leavers survey is typically around 50 per cent. This lower response rate results from an inability to contact the targeted individuals, due to out-of-date contact details, rather than a lack of willingness of individuals to participate in the survey.


Data for the longitudinal studies are weighted to reflect the number of respondents who participated in the 2006 and 2011 Next Step surveys and the 2011 Early School Leavers survey and are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors.

Data for the Next Step and Early School Leavers surveys are unweighted.


For comparability purposes data for previous iterations of the longitudinal studies have been derived using the latest sample of school leavers. Subsequently discrepancies may occur with previously published data.

Historic data from the Early School Leavers survey have been expanded to include early school leavers who were undertaking secondary studies at a non-secondary school. As these have previously been excluded from analysis discrepancies may occur with previously published data.

Main destination data is presented in a structured grouping which outlines the main study and labour market destinations of respondents. Respondents are grouped as follows:

For a detailed breakdown of the main destination categories, refer to Appendix 1.

Next Step Year 12 presentation

This presentation Adobe PDF document394K provides an overview of the Next Step survey.

Further information

For further information about the background, purpose or reporting for Next Step, please contact the Next Step team.

To complete the survey by telephone or for assistance with completing the survey online please contact the Queensland Government Statistician's Office on 1800 068 587 (toll free).


Appendix 1 - Main Destination Categories

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Education and Training - Higher Education
Bachelor Degree*Studying at Bachelor Degree level (including Honours).
Education and Training - VET categories
VET Cert IV+*Studying at Certificate IV, Diploma, Advanced Diploma or Associate Degree level (excluding apprentices and trainees).
VET Cert III*Studying at Certificate III level (excluding apprentices and trainees).
VET Cert I-II/other*Studying at Certificate I or II level (excluding apprentices and trainees). This category also includes students in an unspecified VET course, or in other basic courses (e.g. short courses) and with an unknown course level.
ApprenticeshipEmployment-based apprenticeship.
TraineeshipEmployment-based traineeship.
Education and Training - Secondary studies (Early School Leavers survey only)
Secondary study*Studying Years 10, 11 or 12 at a non-secondary school (for example a TAFE or private training college).
Labour Force
Full-time employmentWorking full-time (35 hours or more per week) and not in an education or training destination. This includes people with part-time or casual jobs that total 35 hours or more.
Part-time employmentWorking part-time or casual (fewer than 35 hours per week) and not in an education or training destination.
Seeking workLooking for work and not in an education or training destination.
Not in Education, Training or Employment
NILFETNot in education or training, not working and not seeking work.

*Some respondents may also be in the labour force.

Appendix 2 - Fields of Study

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Field of study*Examples of courses
Natural and Physical SciencesScience, Applied Science, Laboratory Technology, Biomedical Science, Forensic Science
Information TechnologyInformation Technology, Network Engineering, Software Design, Web Design
Engineering and Related TechnologiesEngineering, Automotive Mechanics, Electro Technology, Refrigeration, Aviation, Electrical Apprenticeship
Architecture and BuildingBuilding, Architecture, Carpentry, Interior Design, Regional and Urban Planning, Surveying
Agriculture, Environmental and Related StudiesHorticulture, Land Management, Environmental Science, Agricultural Science, Marine Studies
HealthNursing, Sport Science, Occupational Therapy, Medicine, Pharmacy, Fitness, Physiotherapy
EducationPrimary Education, Secondary Education, Learning Management, Early Childhood Education
Management and CommerceBusiness, Accounting, Business Management, Commerce, Tourism, Real Estate, Marketing
Society and CultureLaw, Arts, Youth Work, Journalism, Social Science, Psychology, Social Work
Creative ArtsFine Arts, Visual Arts, Music, Multimedia, Graphic Design, Performing Arts, Photography
Food, Hospitality and Personal ServicesHospitality, Hotel Management, Hairdressing, Kitchen Operations, Commercial Cookery
Mixed Field ProgramsAdult Tertiary Preparation, Creative Industries, Vocational Skills Development, Bridging Courses
Double Field of StudyUniversity students undertaking double degrees (e.g. Business/Laws)

*Field of study based on the Australian Standard Classification of Education External Link (ABS cat. no.1272.0)

Appendix 3 - Industry Categories

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Industry category*Examples of occupations in this industry
Retail TradeSales Assistant, Cashier, Storeperson, Retail Trainee, Shelf Filler, Pharmacy Assistant, Console Operator
Accommodation and Food ServicesWaiter, Bartender, Kitchen Hand, Pizza Maker, Apprentice Chef, Fast Food Server, Hotel Receptionist
ConstructionLabourer, Apprentice (Carpenter, Tiler, Bricklayer, Painter, Plumber, Plasterer, Roofer), Trades Assistant
ManufacturingFactory Hand, Apprentice (Joiner, Fitter, Boilermaker, Cabinet Maker), Labourer, Machine Operator
Health Care and Social AssistanceDental Assistant, Personal Carer, Child Care Assistant, Nanny, Medical Receptionist, Nursing Assistant
Agriculture, Forestry and FishingFruit Picker, Packer, Farm, Station Hand, Nursery Assistant, Market Gardener, Deck Hand
Education and TrainingTeacher Aide, Tutor, Swimming Instructor, Music Teacher, Administration Assistant, Sports Coach, Library Assistant
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste ServicesApprentice (Electrician, Linesman, Plumber, Refrigeration Mechanic), Garbage Truck Driver
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate ServicesSales Trainee, Office Assistant, Trainee Property Manager, Receptionist, Video Store Clerk
Information Media and TelecommunicationsCinema Attendant, Cadet Journalist, Library Assistant, Telecommunications Trainee, Data Entry Clerk
Transport, Postal and WarehousingCourier, Customs Clerk, Furniture Removalist, Ticket Inspector, Flight Attendant, Mail Sorter, Transport Officer
Financial and Insurance ServicesBank Teller, Administrative Assistant, Accounts Clerk, Loans Processor, Trainee Accountant, Customer Service Operator
Wholesale TradeWarehouse Clerk, Storeperson, Driver, Packer, Factory Hand, Labourer, Cleaner
Public Administration and SafetyDefence Cadet, Administrative Officer, Soldier, Trainee Firefighter, Police Cadet, Locksmith
Administrative and Support ServicesCall Centre Operator, Gardener, Trainee Travel Agent, Cleaner, Office Assistant, Telemarketer
MiningApprentice (Fitter, Electrician, Boilermaker), Plant Operator, Drillers Assistant, Laboratory Assistant, Office Assistant
Arts and Recreation ServicesFitness Instructor, Theatre Attendant, Netball Umpire, Theme Park Host, Lifeguard, Museum Attendant
Professional, Scientific and Technical ServicesLaboratory Assistant, Trainee Draftsperson, Software Technician, IT Trainee
Other ServicesApprentice (Mechanic, Panel Beater, Hairdresser), Parking Attendant, Trainee Beautician, Photo Lab Assistant

*Industry categories based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification External Link (ABS cat. no. 1292.0).

Appendix 4 - Occupations

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ANZSCO Major Group*ANZSCO Sub-major Group*
Clerical and Administrative WorkersOffice Managers and Program Administrators, Personal Assistants and Secretaries, General Clerical Workers, Inquiry Clerks and Receptionists, Numerical Clerks, Clerical and Office Support Workers, Other Clerical and Administrative Workers
Community and Personal Service WorkersHealth and Welfare Support Workers, Carers and Aides, Hospitality Workers, Protective Service Workers, Sports and Personal Service Workers
LabourersCleaners and Laundry Workers, Construction and Mining Labourers, Factory Process Workers, Farm, Forestry and Garden Workers, Food Preparation Assistants, Other Labourers
Machinery Operators and DriversMachine and Stationary Plant Operators, Mobile Plant Operators, Road and Rail Drivers, Storepersons
ManagersChief Executives, General Managers and Legislators, Farmers and Farm Managers, Specialist Managers, Hospitality, Retail and Service Managers
ProfessionalsArts and Media Professionals, Business, Human Resource and Marketing Professionals, Design, Engineering, Science and Transport Professionals, Education Professionals, Health Professionals, ICT Professionals, Legal, Social and Welfare Professionals
Sales WorkersSales Representatives and Agents, Sales Assistants and Salespersons, Sales Support Workers
Technicians and Trades WorkersEngineering, ICT and Science Technicians, Automotive and Engineering Trades Workers, Construction Trades Workers, Electrotechnology and Telecommunications Trades Workers, Food Trades Workers, Skilled Animal and Horticultural Workers, Other Technicians and Trades Workers

*Occupations based on the ANZSCO -- Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations External Link, 2013, Version 1.2

Appendix 5 - Glossary and Abbreviation

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ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics-the central statistical authority for the Australian Government. The ABS provides the official national source of statistics for use by the government and the community.
ANZSCOAustralian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations-a hierarchical occupation classification which is used in the collection and dissemination of official statistics. ANZSCO assigns individuals to an occupation based on the set of tasks that they perform for an employer.
ANZSICAustralian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification-a hierarchical industry classification which is used in the collection and dissemination of official statistics. ANZSIC assigns businesses to an industry based on their predominant activities.
ApprenticeshipA legally-binding training arrangement between an employer and an apprentice that combines structured training with paid employment. Apprenticeships usually take four years to complete, with training taking place both at the workplace and with a training organisation.
ASCEDAustralian Standard Classification of Education-a classification, defined by the ABS, which is used in the collection and dissemination of official statistics. ASCED comprises two component classifications, Level of Education and Field of Education.
ASGSAustralian Statistical Geography Standard-a hierarchical geographical classification, defined by the ABS, which is used in the collection and dissemination of official statistics. The ASGS provides a common framework of statistical geography and thereby enables the production of statistics which are comparable and can be spatially integrated.
Campus-based studyRefers to Bachelor Degree and Campus-based VET study; including study undertaken externally or online.
Campus-based VETVET courses where the study or training is predominantly undertaken at a study institution such as a TAFE. Included in this category are VET certificate levels I-IV, diplomas, advanced diplomas and associate degrees.
Casual workCasual workers do not have permanency or paid leave entitlements (such as sick or annual leave). They usually receive a higher rate of pay to compensate for this.
CATIComputer-assisted telephone interviewing-a type of telephone interviewing in which the interviewer keys answers to questions as they are received onto a data entry keyboard.
DETDepartment of Education and Training
Employment-based VETVET courses where the study or training is undertaken in conjunction with an apprenticeship or traineeship.
Full-time employmentThe ABS definition of an employed person who usually works 35 hours or more a week (in all jobs).
IBDInternational Baccalaureate Diploma-a two-year international curriculum resulting in a qualification that is widely recognised by the world's leading universities. In order to obtain an IBD, a student must meet defined standards and conditions set out by the International Baccalaureate Organisation. For further information regarding IBDs, go to the International Baccalaureate Organisation website:
IndigenousRefers to people who identify themselves as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin.
Labour forceRefers to people who are either working or looking for work.
LBOTELanguage background other than English-for the purpose of this report, international visa students have been excluded from LBOTE analysis.
Main destinationA structured grouping of school leavers which outlines their main study and labour market destinations. School leavers were grouped as follows:
  • students were assigned to the education categories regardless of their labour forcestatus
  • apprentices and trainees were assigned to their respective training categories
  • those grouped in a labour market destination (employed or seeking work) were not ineducation or training
  • those who were not in the labour force, education or training.

See Appendix 1.
nfdNot further defined.
NILFNot in the labour force-refers to people who were not working and not seeking work.
NILFETNot in the labour force, education or training-refers to people who were not working, not seeking work and not undertaking any education or training.
OPOverall Position-a student's position in a statewide rank order based on overall achievement in QCAA approved subjects. It is used for tertiary entrance purposes only, indicating how well a student has done in comparison to all other OP eligible students in Queensland. To receive an OP, students must study a certain number and pattern of QCAA subjects, complete Year 12, and sit for the Queensland Core Skills Test. For further information regarding OPs, go to the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority website External Link
Part-time employmentThe ABS definition of an employed person who usually works less than 35 hours a week (in all jobs).
QCAAQueensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority-formerly the Queensland Studies Authority. A statutory body of the Queensland Government that provides Kindergarten to Year 12 syllabuses, guidelines, assessment, reporting, testing, accreditation and certification services for Queensland schools.
QCEQueensland Certificate of Education-Queensland's senior school qualification, which is awarded to eligible students, usually at the end of Year 12. The QCE recognises broad learning options and offers flexibility in what, where and when learning occurs. For further information regarding the QCE, go to the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority website External Link
QCIAQueensland Certificate of Individual Achievement-recognises the learning achievements of students who undertake individual learning programs. To be eligible, students must have impairments or difficulties in learning that are not primarily due to socioeconomic, cultural or linguistic factors. For further information regarding the QCIA, go to the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority website External Link
QGSOQueensland Government Statistician's Office-the Queensland Government's statistical agency, which regularly conducts surveys with individuals, households and businesses to collect official statistics about issues of interest to government and to people in Queensland.
Regional QueenslandIncludes the ABS Statistical Area Level 4s of Cairns, Darling Downs - Maranoa, Fitzroy, Mackay, Queensland - Outback, Toowoomba, Townsville and Wide Bay. See Appendix 5.
SA4Statistical Area Level 4-an area which represents the largest sub-State regions in the Main Structure of the ASGS. SA4s provide the best sub-state socio-economic breakdown in the ASGS and have been designed to reflect labour markets within each State and Territory. In aggregate, SA4s cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps.
SATSchool-based apprenticeships and traineeships-allow high school students-typically those in Years 11 and 12-to undertake a training qualification and work with an employer as a paid employee while studying for their senior statement.
SEIFASocio-Economic Indexes for Areas-a group of four indexes, developed by the ABS, as a way of assessing socioeconomic status across the population. SEIFA enable areas in Australia to be ranked according to four different indexes. One of these is the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage, which provides a method of determining and comparing levels of social and economic disadvantage in given areas at a given point in time.
Senior Education ProfileStudents in Queensland are issued with a senior education profile upon completion of Year 12. Included in this profile could be a Senior Statement, QCE, Tertiary Entrance Statement (OP) or QCIA.
Senior StatementA transcript of the learning account for all students completing Year 12 at a Queensland school. The Senior Statement shows all studies and the results achieved that may contribute to the award of a QCE or Tertiary Entrance Statement.
SESSocioeconomic status-a relative position in the community determined by occupation, income and amount of education.
South East QueenslandIncludes the ABS Statistical Area Level 4s of Brisbane - East, Brisbane - North, Brisbane - South, Brisbane - West, Brisbane Inner City, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Logan - Beaudesert, Moreton Bay - North, Moreton Bay - South and Sunshine Coast. See Appendix 5.
TAFETechnical and further education-a publicly funded post-secondary organisation that provides a range of technical and vocational education and training courses, and other programs.
TraineeshipA structured training and paid employment arrangement that involves a contract between the employer and the trainee. Traineeships vary in length from 12 months to three years.
VETVocational education and training-tertiary education and training, excluding degree and higher level programs delivered by further education institutions, which provide people with occupational or work-related knowledge and skills. VET also includes programs which provide the basis for subsequent vocational programs.
VETiSVocational education and training in schools-vocational education and training courses undertaken by students as part of their school studies.

Appendix 6 - Statistical Area Level 4 - Queensland, ABS, 2016

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Statistical Area Level 4

Appendix 7 - Statistical Area Level 4 - South-East Queensland, ABS, 2016

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Statistical Area Level 6

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