Work-based Learning in Community Education Providers – Interim Research Report, December 2015
This research is being conducted by Community Colleges Australia on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Education & Training (DET) under the Strategic Partnerships Project.
The research aims to examine the extent to which community providers are delivering work-based learning, workplacement and foundation skills. It is hoped that the research will create better recognition of community providers by illuminating the role community providers play in providing quality VET.
The research involves a large-scale survey of community based providers followed by detailed semi-structured interviews with selected participants. Results will be collated into a report for the Department of Education & Training.
Four hundred and fourteen (414) RTOs were selected from the National Register of RTOs (TGA) according to their provider type indicator (AVETMISS Data Field) and invited to take part in the initial survey. Ninety-two RTOs responded to the survey.
While the data provided by the surveys needs to be further interrogated and checked with detailed semi-structured interviews, the initial results indicate the following:
Community based providers are very much involved in delivering work-based learning:
- 45% deliver traineeships and 10% deliver apprenticeships
- 66% of RTOs are delivering qualifications that have a mandatory work-based learning component (ie where the training package specifies that assessment must be conducted in the workplace and/or specifies workplacement hours required)
- 52% of Community based RTOs are involved in delivering accredited and non-accredited training for specific business clients.
- 74% stated that they provide workplacement opportunities as part of their courses, even when the training package does not require it.
- 35% of RTOs stated they operate a business that has been specifically designed for the purpose of providing work-based training such as a hairdressing/beauty salon, nursery or café
When asked why they did not deliver more work-based learning and provide more workplacement opportunities the following themes emerged:
- Funding is a big issue. RTOs state that employers are reluctant to pay for work-based learning and the funding arrangements are not supportive.
- Community based RTOs often service large regional and rural areas and the cost of managing work-based traineeships in such thin markets with large geographical spread was prohibitive.
- Community based RTOs are often very small operations and do not have the capacity to invest in the marketing and relationship building required to build a client base with local business and market the RTO capabilities.
- Furthermore, it was felt that community based RTOs did not have a reputation for providing work-based learning opportunities and therefore the marketing requirements are greater.
- Employers are reluctant to host learners for workplacement and there is a lot of competition especially in rural and regional areas from other “large National” and “private” RTOs to engage host employers
Community providers are very involved in delivering foundation skills:
- 88% stated that they have delivered accredited foundation skills in the last 12 months. These were classroom-based courses.
- 89% stated that they are integrating foundation skills into VET courses. This may be achieved in a variety of fashions, such as VET trainers being LLN trained and integrating LLN into their VET delivery (46%), LLN experts working with VET experts in the design of the course (18%) or FSK units being integrated into VET courses (29%)
When asked why they did not deliver more foundation skills following themes emerged:
- The most common response was inadequate funding for foundation skills. It is perceived that employers will not pay for foundation skills training and “selling” the benefits of foundations skills to employers is a big drain on resources.
- Changes to Job Active contracts mean there are less referrals from this source.
- Victorian processes of having the appropriate qualification on scope and being on the Approved Provider List are seen as prohibitively complex and costly for many Victorian providers.
- Limited approved courses for foundation skills under Smart and Skilled in NSW has caused problems for many RTOs
- Students in greatest need are not interested or reluctant, people are not aware of their need, lack of student numbers.
- Many responded that they have limited capacity in terms of qualified staff and classroom space to deliver more foundation skills.
Who is a community provider
For the purpose of the research we defined a community education provider as being an RTO that is NFP, a legal entity, focused on adult education and serving a specific community whether that be a geographical community or a cultural community.
Survey participants were selected from the Training.gov (TGA) database according to provider type indicator. Those selected included those identified as the following provider types (AVETMISS Data Field):
- Community Based Education Provider
- Other provider ’91 Private education/training business or centre’ is a privately operated registered training organisation (‘private provider’).
- Other provider ’99 Other training provider not elsewhere classified’ are for-profit private training providers (e.g. private one-on-one music teachers, private tutors) and not-for-profit training providers (e.g. Mission Australia, Salvation Army)
Despite that fact that the AVETMISS definition of “Community-based Adult Education Provider” specifies that such a provider should be NFP, our research using the TGA database has shown that a number of RTOs registered with the “Community-based Adult Education Provider” type indicator are in fact “for-profit” organisations. This is a curious and potentially misleading fault in the AVETMISS collection and has implications for how the data may be used for research and policy decisions.
Next steps in research:
- A second broad survey to all respondents who have indicated they deliver foundation skills. The survey will take a snapshot of the range of conditions, strategies and practices in use for the facilitation of foundation skills including: the qualifications of trainers; the characteristics of learners; the curriculum/training packages being used; funding arrangements; classroom and workplace practices: approaches to pedagogy and assessment and the outcomes in terms of assisting transitions in life, work and education for learners.
- Detailed semi-structured interviews with survey respondents focusing on:
- Those RTOs who are successfully engaging with businesses to provide business specific work-based learning opportunities. What strategies have worked for engagement? What strategies have worked for delivering the training and up-skilling workers? What skills are required by trainers?
- Those RTOs who are delivering Traineeships. What models are they using? What skills are required by trainers/assessors?
- Those RTOs who operate a business for the purpose of providing training, such as beauty salon or café.
- Those who deliver training that has mandatory workplacement requirements. What have they learnt from this experience in terms of engaging with employers, finding host employers and the value of workplacement?
- Presentation to the ACTA/ACAL Conference, Diversity Exchanging Ways of Being scheduled for April 2016. Conference program available at http://waalc.org.au/2016-ACAL-ACTA-conference/conference-overview.htm