Demographic profile of respondents
A total of 18,994 young people aged 15-19 years responded to Mission Australia’s Youth Survey 2015. The largest number of responses came from New South Wales (24.9%), Victoria (24.5%) and Queensland (21.6%). Over half of the respondents (55.3%) were female and 6.2% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. The percentage of young people who spoke a language other than English at home was 21.9%, similar to results in 2014 (19.7%).
The level of reported disability remained fairly constant again between 2015 (6.0%) and 2014 (4.4%). The vast majority of respondents were studying full-time (94.0%), consistent with the 93.8% in 2014. Around four in ten (38.8%) respondents were working part-time and 35.9% were looking for work, again consistent with previous years.
Young people and plans for study and training
Young people were asked about their future plans for education and training following school. Of those who were still at school, 96.6% stated that they intended to complete Year 12. Almost three times the proportion of males indicated that they did not intend to complete Year 12 (5.3% compared with 1.8% of females). When asked what they were planning to do after school, going to university was the most frequently chosen option among both males and females (65.3%), although a greater proportion of females than males stated that they planned to do so (71.2% compared with 58.0%).
Many planned to get a job (34.5%) or to travel or go on a gap year (29.6%) after school, while 13.0% planned to attend TAFE or college and 9.7% planned to undertake an apprenticeship.
Barriers to further education and employment
The Youth Survey 2015 asked young people how confident they were in their ability to achieve their study/work goals after school. Just over half of respondents indicated high levels of confidence in their ability to achieve study/work goals, with 10.3% indicating that they were extremely confident and 40.3% indicating that they were very confident. However, around one in ten young people were less confident in their ability to achieve their goals, with 8.1% being slightly confident and 2.3% not at all confident in their ability to achieve their study/work goals after school.
Overall, a greater proportion of male respondents than female respondents reported high levels of confidence in their ability to achieve their study/work goals. While many respondents reported high levels of confidence in their ability to achieve their post-school study/work goals, when asked whether they felt there were any barriers which may impact on the achievement of these goals, more than half (52.0%) of young people across Australia felt that barriers were present. Respondents who indicated the presence of barriers were asked to indicate from a number of items which barriers they saw as preventing them from achieving their goals after school. Nationally, the top three barriers that young people felt would impact on their study/work goals were academic ability (18.2%), financial difficulty (16.9%) and lack of jobs (12.2%). Just over one in ten respondents indicated that they saw family responsibilities (12.0%) and physical or mental health (10.3%) as barriers to the achievement of their study/work goals after school. A greater proportion of female than male respondents indicated that they saw each of these items as a barrier to their post-school goals.
What young people value
In 2015 young people were again asked how much they valued family relationships, financial security, friendships, getting a job, physical and mental health and school or study satisfaction. The responses were consistent with previous years, with friendships and family relationships ranked as the two most highly valued items. Also consistent with past years was the high value placed on school or study satisfaction and physical and mental health. Around four in ten respondents placed a high value on financial security and getting a job.
Issues of personal concern
Young people were asked to rank how concerned they had been about a number of issues in the past year. Nationally, the top three issues of concern were coping with stress, school or study problems and body image, with around four in ten respondents indicating that they were either extremely concerned or very concerned about coping with stress, one third indicating they were either extremely concerned or very concerned about school or study problems and around one quarter highly concerned about body image. Around one in five respondents were either extremely concerned or very concerned about depression and family conflict. The proportion of females concerned about each of these issues was much higher than the proportion of males.