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After the ATAR

10 Jul 2019, by Amy Sarcevic

The choices young people make upon completing mandatory education can profoundly influence their success in adult life. However, new research by post-school advice forum, Year13, has shown that many school-leavers are making misguided choices in this pivotal phase of their lives.

The “After the ATAR” and “After the ATAR II” research reports reveal that 48 percent of youth are ‘not at all’ concerned about the threat of automation on their vocational choices, while 43 percent are ‘not at all’ concerned about the threat of outsourcing. This is despite some estimates suggesting as many as 3.5 to 6.5 million equivalent full-time jobs may be technologically disrupted as Industry 4.0 takes hold.

Parents continue to be the primary ‘go-to’ for advice. However, the statistics show that many parents are themselves giving uninformed recommendations and are often biased towards channelling their children into degrees, which may no longer be in high demand. As a result, many young people are receiving inappropriate advice about their options.

An over-emphasis on ATAR by education providers means that 37 percent of high school students are choosing ‘easier’ subjects, by way of boosting their rank, as opposed to subjects which they are truly passionate about or find meaningful. When surveyed, 50 percent of respondents also said they felt as though their educators valued their ATAR more than them as individuals. 65 percent of students altogether disagree with the ATAR system.

Mental health issues were prevalent among the 15-24 age group, with the pressure of achieving a good ATAR being an associated factor. 68 percent of young people reported struggling with their mental health and 51 percent identified a need for psychological intervention. Some said they felt as though these issues were clouding their judgements.

Year13 Co-Founder Saxon Phipps is behind the research and is due to present at the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Summit, where he will talk more about the findings and provide recommendations on what we could be doing better.

Ahead of the Summit, Mr. Phipps says, “A greater focus on providing quality, well-informed and expert, rather than anecdotal, advice for young people is essential.

“In an evolving job market, we are already seeing a notable decline in course-related employability and it is important that prospective students understand key areas of demand when assessing their options.

“In addition, it is vital that we provide adequate support for young people to ensure they are in the right headspace to make these key life decisions”.

The Australian Higher Education Summit will feature insights from the nation’s chief higher education policymakers, providers, analysts and industry experts.

Learn more and register here.

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