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ERIC Number: ED514894
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 70
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 49
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-9218-0955-2
Lost Talent? The Occupational Ambitions and Attainments of Young Australians
Sikora, Joanna; Saha, Lawrence J.
National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)
Given ongoing interest in increasing productivity and participation in the workforce, understanding when talent is lost is a useful exercise. The term "lost talent" describes the underutilisation or wastage of human potential. Focusing on young people, Sikora and Saha define lost talent as occurring when students in the top 50% of academic achievement lower their educational or occupational expectations or fail to achieve their educational or occupational plans. Using data spanning a ten-year period from the 1998 cohort of the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY98), the authors examine academic achievement in Year 9, educational and occupational expectations while at school, and educational and occupational attainment by age 25 years to determine the extent to which talent loss is occurring. The general relationships between occupational expectations and attainment are also examined to see whether ambitious career plans lead to higher-status employment. Key messages from this study include: (1) The proportion of high-achieving individuals who represent talent loss is low but not negligible, with approximately 15% lowering their educational and occupational expectations. Factors associated with decreasing expectations included low socioeconomic status, being male, having low personal assessment of academic ability and low satisfaction with school; (2) Having ambitious occupational plans is important, with a strong relationship found between holding these plans and having a professional or managerial job by the age of 25 years. Not having a career plan can be detrimental to later occupational attainment--more so for young women; and (3) Students' occupational expectations are significantly less gender-segregated than the labour market they eventually enter. Appendices include: (1) The Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth LSAY98; (2) (a) Expectations and academic achievement; (b) Methods and measurement of variables in section Prevalence and determinants of talent loss; and (c) Determinants of occupational expectations; (3) Stability of occupational expectations over time, all students and Changes in status of expected occupations between 1999 and 2001, all students; (4) Explanation how gender segregation is measured in the analysis and the details of the ordinary least squares (OLS) model; and (5) Models utilized. (Contains 23 tables, 9 figures and 3 footnotes.) [For the support document, "Concern about Lost Talent: Support Document", see ED514895.
National Centre for Vocational Education Research Ltd. P.O. Box 8288, Stational Arcade, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia. Tel: +61-8-230-8400; Fax: +61-8-212-3436; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
Authoring Institution: National Centre for Vocational Education Research
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth