More Information

Dr Cain Polidano
(Melbourne Institute)
0409 703 296
+613 8344 2102


Ryan Sheales
(Media Office)
+61 3 8344 3845
0402 351 412

A University of Melbourne study has backed tough government measures to “coerce” early school leavers back in to education.

Researchers investigated what happens to teenagers who leave school prematurely and what likelihood there is of them re-engaging in learning.

The study — A Second Chance at Education for Early School Leavers — found the longer a teenager stays away from study, the less likely they are to return.

Previous studies have shown kids who drop out of school have difficulty finding work, and often accept low paying jobs.

Lead author Dr Cain Polidano said this bolsters the case for “coercive measures” to make teenagers re-engage in study.

“Already the Federal Government requires some school leavers to return to education before they can claim income support,” he said.

“Similar measures should be considered to further encourage a return to study.

“This is crucial if the Government is serious about achieving it’s target of having 90% of 20-24 year olds achieve a Year 12 equivalent qualification by 2015.”

The report questioned the effectiveness of simply lifting the age when teenagers are allowed to leave school, as a means of encouraging further study.

“While keeping kids in school should be the first priority, the modest improvement in school completion rates since the mid-1990s underlines the importance of also having programs to encourage early school leavers to return to study,” Dr Polidano said.

The report found females were roughly 20% less likely to re-engage in formal education after leaving school, because they’re not as willing to undertake vocational training (VET courses).

“VET is historically associated with preparing workers for male dominated jobs in agriculture, mining and manufacturing,” Dr Polidano said.

  • Available for interview:  Dr Cain Polidano (Melbourne Institute).