15-year-olds in 2009, their educational achievement, where they went and what they earned over the next decade

Publication Details

This report follows the education and earnings of 15 year-olds in 2009, over a decade until they were 24 or 25. It is intended as a postscript to the report Education and earnings, A New Zealand update which provides a more comprehensive coverage of the relationship between education and earnings in New Zealand. This short postscript aims to further inform the question of what earnings a young person might expect for different education pathways. Note that the report covers the period 2009 to 2018, so doesn’t include any impacts that COVID-19 will have had on education, employment and earnings.

Author(s): David Scott, Tertiary Sector Performance Analysis, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: September 2020

Summary

Of the 62,400 15-year-olds living in New Zealand in 2009:

Where they went

  • Ten years later, 15% were overseas, 60% were earning, 10% were in tertiary study, and 15% were in New Zealand neither earning nor in study.
  • Over the 10-year period from 2009 to 2018, 78% had enrolled at a tertiary education provider at some point, and 26% had undertaken learning in the workplace towards a formal qualification.
  • One in five had left school with no school qualifications, but a third of these then went on to get some form of tertiary qualification by the time they were 24 or 25, including some 150 who went on to gain a bachelors degree.
  • Nearly 80% had gained at least a Level 2 school qualification, or a tertiary qualification at Level 3 or higher by the time they were 24 or 25.
  • Around 45% had gained a Level 3 school qualification. More than three-quarters of these (77%) went on to gain a tertiary qualification. Around 55% of those with Level 3 school qualifications had gained a degree.
  • Over 60% held a tertiary qualification by the time the cohort reached age 24 or 25.
  • A quarter had gained a degree, and 30% had gained a certificate or diploma at Level 3 or higher.
Figure 1: 15-year-olds in 2009 – What they did over the next 10 years

Figure 1: 15-Year-Olds in 2009

What they earned

  • Those who finished their education with a Level 2 school qualification were on average earning nearly 80% more annually at age 24 or 25, than their peers with no qualifications.
  • Those who stayed on at school an extra year and entered the workforce with a Level 3 school qualification were earning 13% more annually by age 24 or 25, than their peers with a Level 2 school qualification.
  • Those who went on to complete a Level 4 certificate were earning 16% more annually by age 24 or 25, than their peers who finished their education with a Level 2 school qualification.
  • Those who went on to gain a degree had the highest annual earnings as well as higher earnings growth. By age 24 or 25, they were earning 17% more annually than their peers who finished their education with a Level 3 school qualification, and 30% more than those who finished with a Level 2 school qualification.
  • But having spent less time in the workforce, their total cumulative earnings over the 10-year period 2009 to 2018 were still less than their peers who hadn’t done a degree, with the exception of those who had gained no qualification at all.
  • By age 24 or 25, those with a Level 4 certificate had the highest cumulative earnings - 40% higher than someone of the same age with a degree. However, those with a degree were, on average, earning 14% more annually, and their earnings were growing at a faster rate.
  • Those finishing their education with a Level 3 school qualification were, by age 24 or 25, earning 13% more a year than their peers who had left school a year earlier with a Level 2 school qualification. But having spent one less year in the labour market, their total cumulative earnings over the 10-year period were still 8% less than those who had left with a Level 2 school qualification.

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