Publication Date



Longitudinal surveys of Australian youth research report ; n.34

This report forms part of the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth: a research program that is jointly managed by ACER and the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST).

ISBN 0864317131

ISSN 440-3455


Over the last three decades, the transition from full-time education to full-time work has been characterised as problematic for a significant proportion of young adults. It is often argued that a high proportion of young people continually move between unemployment, part-time work, low status full-time work and withdrawal from the labour force. Young people are viewed as ‘significant losers’ from changes in the labour force that have occurred over recent decades (Spierings, 1999).

This report focuses on labour market dynamics between the ages of 20 and 25 for a cohort of young people born in 1975. The early 20s is the age at which adults establish themselves in the labour force. By age 25 most young people who did not proceed with full-time post-secondary education have been in the labour market for at least five years, and should be well established in their careers. On the other hand, most young adults who pursued post-secondary education have entered the labour market but for a considerably shorter time. In contrast to most studies on the youth labour market, which use cross-sectional data, the data used in this report are longitudinal which allow examination of the year-to-year changes in the cohort’s activities. Focusing on the dynamics provides a better understanding of how young people are faring as it indicates whether unfavourable labour market situations are permanent or transitory.