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Keywords:

  • early school leavers;
  • vocational education and training;
  • second chance education
  • H54;
  • J01;
  • I20;
  • C41

By OECD standards, the share of the Australian labour force with at least a secondary school qualification is low. One way to rectify this shortfall is to improve rates of re-engagement in education among early school leavers. This paper examines the patterns of re-engagement among early school leavers in the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia sample. A key finding is that the early years after leaving school are crucially important, with rates of re-engagement dropping dramatically in the first three years out from school. For young adults up to age twenty four, results suggest that finding work, especially satisfying work, is an important motivator for returning to study. For older adults, re-engaging is linked to retraining after commencing a new job and returning to study after having kids.