Research conducted by the University of Melbourne has backed tougher government measures aimed at coercing early school leavers back into the education system.


Researchers from the University investigated what happens to teenagers who leave school prematurely and their likelihood of re-engaging in learing.


The report concluded that the longer a teenage stays out of the educational system, the less likely they are to return.


The study backs earlier research that shows that children who drop out of the system have significantly harder times finding and keeping a job, and often accept low paying jobs.


The study's lead author, Dr Cain Polidano, says the research bolsters the case for 'coercive measures' to be used to make teenagers re-engage with study.


“Already the Federal Government requires some school leavers to return to education before they can claim income support,” Dr Polidano said.


“Similar measures should be considered to further encourage a return to study."


The report questioned the effectiveness of simply lifting the age when teenagers are allowed to leave school, as a means of encouraging further study.


“While keeping kids in school should be the first priority, the modest improvement in school completion rates since the mid-1990s underlines the importance of also having programs to encourage early school leavers to return to study,” Dr Polidano said.


The report found females were roughly 20% less likely to re-engage in formal education after leaving school, because they’re not as willing to undertake vocational training (VET courses).


“VET is historically associated with preparing workers for male dominated jobs in agriculture, mining and manufacturing,” Dr Polidano said.