Education has benefits to individuals and society. A fundamental goal of education is to equip individuals to reach their potential as members of a just democratic society.

Young people who leave school early risk unemployment and social disadvantage. They’re likely to experience long periods out of work and when they are employed their jobs are likely be low-paid and low-skilled – often casual and part time.

Of those who leave school early, up to a third are unemployed in the following year and continue to have difficulties over the next six years.[1] Young people most at risk of current and future social and long-term economic disadvantage are those 15-19 year olds who are unemployed or not looking for work and are not in any form of education and training.  

Early intervention and prevention approaches to early school leaving requires additional resources and responsibilities, which cannot be simply added to existing teaching responsibilities. Youth workers are well placed to support young people to remain engaged in education.  There is a range of support mechanisms in schools where youth workers can partner to ensure young people’s social, emotional and educational needs are being met.

There have been major changes to education requirements for young people in the ACT with amendments to the Education Act from 1 January 2010. Previously, compulsory school age ending was 15 years of age. All young people are now required to remain in education until completing Year 10. Following this, they will have to participate full time (at least 25 hours per week) in education, training or employment until completing Year 12 (or equivalent) or reaching the age of 17, whichever comes first.

Students who have not turned 17 and who are looking to undertake work-related training or employment after Year 10 will need to seek an Approval Statement from ACT Department of Education and Training) DET to do so. This is required to ensure the training or employment meets the new legislative requirements and the Department’s guidelines. The changes will not affect students who left school in 2009, either at the end of Year 10 or aged 15; or who are planning to continue in education until Year 12.

More information can be obtained from the Department of Education (DET) website or by contacting DET on or (02) 6205 2254.

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