Department of Family and Community Services
A woman working on some technical equipment.

2.1 Vocational education and training participation

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Participation in a VET course by people 15-64 years

Current position

9.6 percent of women aged 15 to 64 years in NSW (235,900) participated in government-funded VET in 2011 compared with 8.8 percent (214,800) men.

Gender gap

  • There were 21,000 more women who participated in a government-funded VET course in 2011 than men.
The direction of change over timeThe participation rate for both women and men aged 15 to 64 years has remained relatively steady from 2007 to 2011, with rates ranging from 9.3 percent to 9.8 percent for women and 8.6 percent to 9.1 percent for men.

There is considerable variation among subgroups of women (see Figure 3.4). Women with a disability are considerably under-represented. In 2009, the last data available, they made up 19 percent of the NSW population, but comprised just 7 percent of VET students.

Aboriginal women comprised 5.3 percent of VET students in 2011 compared to 2.5 percent of the NSW population. Women who were born overseas in a non-English speaking country were under-represented on a population share basis; they comprised 21 percent of VET students compared to 25 percent of the NSW population.

Indicator 2.1 reports on the number and rate of women and men’s participation in government funded VET in NSW, in courses at all AQF levels. Government-funded VET includes students funded by the Commonwealth and NSW Governments and does not include students paying fee for-service to private registered training organisations (RTOs) or school-based VET students. The rate is based on the number of students as a proportion of the population aged 15 to 64 years, and refers to the highest course undertaken by the student.

Year collected: 2011; 2009 (disability data).
Data source: Productivity Commission, Report on Government Services 2013, Chapter 5; VOCSTATS, Students and Courses Collection and ABS Census of Population and Housing 2011. More information is available at and

Figure 3.4 Women participating in VET courses compared with NSW population, 2011Fig 3.4

Note: This graph compares the percentage of students within VET courses that belong to the individual subgroups with the total percentage of that subgroup within NSW. For example, 7 percent of female VET students identify as having a disability whereas some 19 percent of women in NSW identify as having a disability. This shows that women with a disability are under-represented in VET courses. Some women may fall within multiple categories.
Population: Students who gave NSW as their usual place of residence.
Source: VOCSTATS, Students and Courses Collection. Population figures for women with a disability are taken from the ABS (2010) Disability, Ageing
and Carers, Australia 2009. Cat no. 4430.0 and for all other women from the Census of Population and Housing 2011.