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Vocational education and training graduate outcomes for STEM and other fields

Graduates with vocational education and training (VET) qualifications report on their employment and income outcomes.

VET graduate outcomes

Compare income, employment outcomes and training relevance for women and men with qualifications in STEM fields, non-STEM fields and health fields over different years.

Data insights

Training relevance

In 2021, 62% of women VET STEM graduates reported their training had some or high relevance to their jobs, a similar number to 2020. However, a higher proportion of men than women reported their training was somewhat or highly relevant to their jobs (76% of men compared to 62% of women).

STEM graduates were more likely to report their training was highly relevant to their job than non-STEM graduates (50% compared to 47%). 49% of health graduates thought their training was highly relevant – not a statistically significant difference from the STEM figure.

However, the proportion of women information technology graduates reporting their training was highly relevant to the job fell 5 percentage points between 2020 and 2021. Men’s proportions remained similar.

In each of the years from 2017 to 2021, the proportion of STEM women who reported their training had some or high relevance to their jobs was lower than the proportion of STEM men. This proportion was also lower for women in health fields.

Outcomes are improving for women in agriculture, environmental and related studies

In 2021, the gap between women and men who reported their training in agriculture, environmental and related studies had some or high relevance to their jobs narrowed to 15 percentage points. This was in contrast to 2020, where this field had the largest gap between women’s and men’s responses: 21 percentage points.

This result aligns with the positive findings for VET enrolments and completions. These findings showed an increase of 4 percentage points in the proportion of women completing courses in agriculture, environmental and related studies from 2015 to 2020.

Improved employment outcomes

In 2021, the proportion of women whose employment outcomes improved (by gaining employment or being employed at a higher skill level) after graduating in a VET STEM field increased. This proportion was 52% in 2021 compared to 45% in 2020. However, this was still lower than the proportion of men whose employment outcomes improved (65%).

The proportion of women in natural and physical sciences reporting improved employment outcomes increased by 7 percentage points in 2021. The proportion of women in information technology reporting improved outcomes increased by 5 percentage points.

However, information technology graduates have reported the lowest improvement in employment outcomes since 2017. This trend continued in 2021, with just 36% of women and 35% of men reporting improved employment outcomes. In comparison, improved employment outcomes were reported by more than 50% of graduates in:

  • engineering and related technologies
  • agricultural, environmental and related studies.

Across all VET courses, 59% of women and 62% of men reported improved employment outcomes in 2021. This was a statistically significant improvement of 5 and 4 percentage points respectively.

Income

Across all VET STEM fields, women’s median full-time annual income was $52,000 in 2021, similar to 2020. Men’s median full-time annual income was $60,000, down from $63,000 in 2020. This lower income for men saw the income gap for VET graduates narrow in 2021.

Women’s median full-time annual income after graduating from information technology was similar to men in 2021 ($56,000, $1,000 more than men). In 2020, women’s median full-time annual income for this field was significantly different to men, at $59,000 compared to $52,000.

The largest median full-time annual income gap between STEM men and women was $11,000, in the natural and physical sciences field.

In 2021, the median full-time annual income for people entering the workforce from all VET fields was $52,000 for women and $62,000 for men. Similar to the overall STEM result, median full-time annual income for women was stable, but there was a slight decline for men in 2021.

About the data

The information is derived from the National Student Outcomes Survey, which is an annual survey of those who completed or partially completed training in Australia during the previous calendar year.  In total, 231,608 VET students responded to the survey.

The survey collects information on VET students’ reasons for training, their employment outcomes, satisfaction with training and further study outcomes. The survey data in the visualisation covers students with an Australian residential address who were awarded a qualification (that is, graduates).

Sampling variance will impact the ability to compare results across time and between groups in the same year. Results in the interactive report should not be compared this way.

Differences between results reported on this page are statistically significant unless otherwise indicated. This means that the differences are due to more than just random chance.

Income values have been rounded and are presented as medians.

Margins of error for training relevance and employment outcomes percentages indicate how many percentage points survey results will differ from the real population value. In this data, margins of error greater than or equal to 10% should be treated with caution. 1% of training relevance and 0.75% of employment outcomes percentages fell into this category.

View NCVER’s VET statistics explained

Read more about our methodology and this data.