Employment skills development programs
Employment skills development programs (ESDPs) cover a diverse range of activities aimed at re-engaging young people (aged 15-17 years) who have left school early or are at risk of leaving school.
ESDPs can offer young people who have disengaged or are at risk of leaving school with an eligible option for engagement during their 'compulsory participation phase'.
ESDPs are run by a range of different organisations and government agencies and vary in length and content.
Generally, ESDPs are courses which provide informal education and training pathways that lead to employment, further training or a return to school. There may be some accredited activities within the program that are designed to help young people become 'job ready'.
Programs can be recognised under two categories:
- departmental employment skills development programs - funded by the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training
- non-departmental employment skills development programs - these are offered or funded by community-based organisations, other government agencies, the corporate sector, registered training organisations or philanthropic bodies.
Register of employment skills development programs
Programs that have been recognised by the department are placed on the Register of employment skills development programs (PDF, 583KB or
The register provides details about the programs and how to contact the provider.
Programs on the register provide young people who are not in school or employment, and their parents with an eligible option for engagement during their 'compulsory participation phase' as required under the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006.
Compulsory participation phase
The Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (the Act) requires that parents/guardians ensure that young people born on or after 1 January 1991 engage in further education and training after reaching compulsory school age until they either:
- gain a senior certificate, a certificate III or certificate IV
- have participated in an eligible option for two years after they cease being of compulsory school age
- are aged 17.
Eligible options under the Act to meet the 'compulsory participation phase' include:
- school education
- vocational education and training (VET) courses
- university courses
- apprenticeships and traineeships
- paid employment for at least 25 hours per week
- departmental employment skills development programs.
The Act acknowledges that a parent/guardian is meeting their obligations if the young person is enrolled in and attending a registered non-departmental employment skills development program.
The department is authorised under the Further Education and Training Act 2014 to register non-departmental employment skills development programs.
For more information on employment skills development programs call 1300 369 935.