Fri 24 Apr 2015 2:01AM

Post school qualification

SD Sophie Davies Public Seen by 281

The information collected on post-school qualifications is the name of the qualification, including the level if applicable, and the subject.

We collected this using write-in boxes, recognising the great diversity of qualifications. However, it was difficult to code, and errors affected the quality of the data produced on post-school qualification and highest qualification.

We need to consider alternative ways to collect this information, such as a shift to a tick-box approach, or using administrative data.

Using tick-boxes to collect qualifications information has known limitations. Respondents usually know their qualification name but they may not know the level.

Our current recommendations relating to post school qualification

  • We recommend that information on post-school qualifications be collected in the 2018 Census and that options for changing the way in which the data is collected be investigated further. These changes could include using a tick-box question and identifying whether the qualification was gained overseas.

See our preliminary view of 2018 Census content for a more detailed discussion on post school qualification information.

See 2013 Census information by variable for information on the post school qualification variable.


Nick Brunsdon Tue 5 May 2015 3:20AM

For my work, understanding the post-school qualification level of the community is important for future skill projections.

Combining the current level of qualification in the community with forecasts for the future can provide a high-level indicator of our skills shortage. This can be used to signal people to up-skill, education providers to increase capacity, or plan for increased immigration.

A tickbox field for qualification types would be great - with options for certificate, diploma, etc. These don't match perfectly with NZQF levels, but would still be quite useful. I don't think many people would know the level or their qualification - even most recent university graduates wouldn't know the NZQF level of their degree, and they are the 'NCEA generation'.


Jess (Facilitator) Wed 6 May 2015 9:15PM

Thanks for starting off the conversation Nick! It's great to hear how this information can be used in the future. Looking forward to hearing more views on this topic as our consultation continues.


Jess (Facilitator) Thu 14 May 2015 1:54AM

To see how information around education and training is used, check out the interesting article linked below:



Kim Ollivier Thu 14 May 2015 11:33PM

This question feels like an education biased certificate exclusion conspiracy! Surely there are other later qualifications that build on the last school or tertiary institution that you attended in your youth?
All professional bodies require further qualifications to join them, some take years to get and include more exams. Then there is 'continuing education' requirements to keep current.
I could not see anywhere that a person can respond to the extra education because it is not 'higher' than a degree.

How would a heart surgeon answer this question? That he got a medical degree, just like my GP?


sarah (topic expert) Mon 25 May 2015 3:17AM

Hi @kimollivier . Thank you for the points you raise. The current census question regarding post school qualification is an open text field which allows the respondent to report qualification and level as well as the subject. This is question 28 on the individual form and can be found in this link. Given the free text nature of the question, the respondent is able to answer with what they believe to be their highest qualification. This engagement and consultation is being carried out to help assess if collection of this information still meets our customer needs. Do you think there is a need to collect information on continuing education where additional training and/or registration is required? How would this extra information be used? Would the census be the best place to collect this information? We would love to hear yours and others views on the need to collect ‘continuing education’ data.


Kim Ollivier Mon 25 May 2015 3:52AM

I do have qualifications other than my degree, but there is nowhere to count them. They are not a' higher qualification', they are different. The form and the questions currently do not allow for anywhere to add them. Neither is question 29 very encouraging to just enter 'Neither of these'. Surely a hint as to what the survey has in mind? Such as continuing education which generally has a target annual hours of study such as 100 hours total.
In an age of changing careers there is no room to show that people have been retrained. There is much political rhetoric about up-skilling being the solution to future prosperity so I would have thought that it would be of interest.

What about a count for the number of certificates collected? 8-)
I have been involved in 'industry training' for a long time and consider that this sort of training is 'leading edge' to get the existing workforce upskilled to use new technology and analyse data (such as the census!). In a way current training must be more important than a distant school qualification. Maybe a question that collected what training has been taken in the last year?

It is noticeable that training budgets are the first to be cut in a downturn. Such short term thinking pervades the NZ industry. When I was at a loose end in the UK I got sent by my employer on a full time boarding course for a week, run by a trade association to improve my skills .

My original point that the census only covers traditional education and misses private and continuing training completely.
It is easy for the traditional educational institutes to produce a report on the number of students that have graduated and they love to publish this.

I went back and read the proposed thoughts on changes, and I do like the idea of checkboxes. Easy to count and easy to answer because it prompts the respondent on what is wanted.
Is there any information on what has been entered in previous census years? What was done to make sense of the open question?


sarah (topic expert) Mon 25 May 2015 5:14AM

Thanks @kimollivier for some good arguments. Just to clarify, I think there are 2 needs here you are raising (correct me if I am wrong).
1. Information on those other types of qualification (that are not necessarily higher, just different)
2. Those currently training or studying
For point 1- While this is not currently asked in the census, we do collect information on all types of qualification since leaving school in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). This may meet your needs? To be considered for inclusion in the census the topic would need to consider the criteria for determining content. For example, is small area or small population data needed? Will the census provide data of enough depth? I would love to hear if you have any further thoughts on this or if you think your needs are met through the information we collect in the HLFS.
For point 2- As outlined on page 33 of the preliminary view of 2018 Census content , we recognise an increase in the types of courses available and that the scope of study participation data may be changing. For example, it may be useful to include industry training as part of the study participation question (question 29). This would potentially address those currently in study/training for broader types of qualification. Would this address yours and others needs on this topic?