Australians are “upskilling like never before” as they gain post-school qualifications in record numbers, census data shows.
More than half the population aged 15 and over now holds a post-school qualification, up from 46 per cent in 2006.
The 2016 Census of Population and Housing, released on Monday, shows close to a quarter of youth and adults have completed a bachelor degree or above.
Census Program Manager Bindi Kindermann says Australians are upskilling like never before.
“Those who go on to study at university aren’t necessarily stopping with just a bachelor degree, with more people than ever achieving postgraduate qualifications,” she said.
In just five years there has been a 46 per cent jump in the number of people with postgraduate degrees (now at 921,000).
The data also showed the gender education gap has narrowed over the past 10 years.
In 2006, 51 per cent of men and 42 per cent of women reported completing tertiary education, while 58 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women held such qualifications in 2016.
A larger proportion of women (67 per cent) in the 20-to-34 years age group held tertiary qualifications than men (62 per cent), which contributed to the narrowing of the gap between the sexes.
The most common occupations for women with a degree were nursing or teaching, whereas men with a degree most commonly worked as accountants and software applications programmers.
For people with other qualifications, excluding a bachelor degree, the most common occupations were sales assistants, electricians and child carers.
Qualified people had higher incomes and were more likely to be employed.
In the 20-to-64 year age group, 81 per cent were employed, compared with 63 per cent of those with no qualification.
The median weekly personal income of those with a bachelor degree or above was $1436, followed by $1083 for those with an advanced diploma and diploma level.
In comparison, those who held a certificate qualification earned $1017 weekly and people without a qualification earned $836.
For the first time, the census reported more than half the population aged 15 and over in each state and territory held a post-school qualification.
The Australian Capital Territory boasts the highest proportion of qualified people (65 per cent), while Tasmania has the lowest proportion (51 per cent).
Residents of Australia’s capital cities were almost twice as likely to hold a bachelor degree or higher than their regional counterparts.
In regional areas, a certificate III and IV level qualification was more popular as it was held by 23 per cent of people, compared to 16 per cent of people in capital cities.