The Pathways for the Future Program

The Pathways for the Future Program aims to improve the effectiveness of the education and training system to better prepare our students as lifelong learners and equip them with the knowledge, skills and attributes for meaningful work and life.

The program is developing a pioneering dataset that brings together de-identified demographic, education, and employment data to provide a comprehensive understanding of how young people move through education and into work.

The data will provide a robust evidence-base for improving, shaping and evaluating government policies and programs, as well as operating the education system. The data will be used across the department to:

  • identify the barriers and drivers of effective education and employment outcomes
  • support students and learners to make better-informed decisions about their studies and careers
  • evaluate the effectiveness of government policies and programs
  • shape policy development and targeted interventions for students who may be experiencing additional barriers to education and employment.

The Pathways dataset has powerful potential to support key priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and learners

Working with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, we can develop a shared understanding of pathways of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The program is currently developing a stream of work aimed specifically at supporting key priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and learners. For example, the Pathways data could be used to identify enablers and barriers, and to develop programs that help improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The program is committed to upholding the principles of Indigenous data sovereignty. Before undertaking any analysis relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, ethics approval will be sought from an ethics body with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander expertise. Data on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students will not be used or analysed without community consultation and ethics approval.

How your data is used

The Pathways dataset only contains de-identified data, and all outputs of the program are aggregated to minimise the risk of reidentification. The Pathways dataset includes information on people who attended secondary school, and people who undertook a vocational education and training qualification, an apprenticeship, traineeship or higher education qualification in NSW.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status will remain masked in the data until ethics approval has been granted. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and learners are included in the broader cohort of students that make up the Pathways dataset.

Your personal information is disclosed to our program partners for linkage purposes during the creation of the Pathways dataset. This is done securely by The Centre for Health Record Linkage (CHeReL) and the ABS and your personal information is kept separate from the rest of the data.

It is not possible to remove data that has already been linked and de-identified in the Pathways dataset. The withdrawal period for the last refresh ran from 5 August 2022 to 30 November 2022, and the department is no longer able to remove individual records because the data has been de-identified.

The 2023 refresh of the Pathways dataset will include 2022 data, Post-School Destinations and Experiences Survey data for those who explicitly consented to data linkage, NSW Student Outcomes Survey data, as well as VET data from 1996-2007.

If you wish to have your data removed from the 2023 refresh and future data refreshes, please complete this short online form by 1 September 2023.

If you have previously asked to have your data withdrawn from the Pathways dataset, your data will also be removed from the next refresh, so you do not need to complete the form again.

If you have any questions about the Pathways program, you can contact the team at

More information in relation to the department's management of privacy can also be found on the Privacy information and forms page.

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