Chapter 2. The evolving role of vocational education and training at the national and local level

This chapter describes the recent trends in VET and apprenticeship training in Australia at the local level. Over the last decade, the share of young Australians earning a tertiary degree, including Short-cycle, Bachelor, Master’s, Doctoral or equivalent degrees, has been increasing and consistently higher than the OECD average. This chapter also summarises recent reforms related to VET and apprenticeship programmes. Different trends related to apprenticeship training are highlighted. The share of Australians in-training and completion of apprenticeship training has declined in the recent years. Some of the states that experienced the most decline in absolute numbers are New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

    

Education attainment in Australia

Over the last two decades, the share of 25 to 34 year olds with tertiary education (defined as ISCED Level 5 qualifications and above1), has been increasing in Australia. In 2017, one in two 25-to 34-year-old Australians had tertiary education, which is higher than the average across OECD countries (Figure 2.1).

Figure 2.1. Share of 25 to 34 year olds with tertiary education, including Short-cycle, Bachelor, Master’s and Doctoral or equivalent degrees, in Australia
picture

Note: Population with tertiary education is defined as those having completed the highest level of education, by age group. This includes both theoretical programmes leading to advanced research or high skill professions such as medicine and more vocational programmes leading to the labour market. The measure is percentage of same age population. As globalisation and technology continue to re-shape the needs of labour markets worldwide, the demand for individuals with a broader knowledge base and more specialised skills continues to rise.

Source: OECD (2018), Population with tertiary education (indicator). doi: 10.1787/0b8f90e9-en (Accessed on 09 October 2018).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933931941

Within secondary and post-secondary level, many students in most OECD countries tend to pursue general programmes as opposed to vocational programmes.

On average, a lower percentage of students enrol in upper secondary vocational programmes than in general programmes in conjunction with lower completion rates for vocational education. About 54% of people from OECD countries will graduate from an upper secondary general programme during their lifetime. Comparatively, the share of people earning a vocational degree during their lifetime is about 44% on average across OECD countries (OECD, 2017[15]).

Figure 2.2 illustrates the cross-country variations in programme orientation among 25-34 year olds whose highest level of education is upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary. This category includes general programmes designed to prepare students for further education, as well as VET designed to lead directly to the labour market. Many European countries such as Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland have a substantial share of students whose highest level of education is in vocational education programme relative to general programme (Figure 2.2). This can reflect the tradition and development of VET systems and network in different countries. Australia and New Zealand have a similar share of students seeking a vocational education and general education programme at this level of education. In Australia, VET is one of the largest education sectors with an estimate of 4.2 million working age people (15 to 64 years) taking some form of VET in 2015 (Atkinson and Stanwick, 2016[16]).

Within vocational education programmes, certain fields of specialisation have attracted more students in recent years. In 2015, 34% of graduates in vocational programmes on average across OECD countries had a specialisation in engineering, manufacturing and construction compared to 27% of Australian graduates specialising in these fields. This OECD average goes down to 12% for business, administration and law (26% for Australia), 17% for services (11% for Australia), and 12% for health and welfare (26% for Australia) (OECD, 2017[15]).

Figure 2.2. Percentage of 25-34 year-olds whose highest level of education is upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary, including general programmes and VET, by programme orientation (2016)
picture

Note: 1. Year of reference differs from 2016. Refer to the Table A1.1 for more details. 2. Data should be used with caution. See Methodology section for more information. 3. Data for upper secondary attainment include completion of a sufficient volume and standard of programmes that would be classified individually as completion of intermediate upper secondary programmes (16% of adults aged 25-64 are in this group).

Source: OECD / ILO / UIS (2017), Education at a Glance Database, http://stats.oecd.org/. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (www.oecd.org/education/education-at-a-glance-19991487.htm).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933931960

Impact of quality vocational education and training (VET) system

VET is an important part of the education system in most OECD countries and can play a crucial role in preparing youth for a smooth transition to work and develop relevant skills for the labour market needs (OECD, 2017[15]). Having a well-developed and high quality VET system and apprenticeship programmes can foster skills development and enhance opportunities to find jobs for youths, particularly disengaged youths (OECD, 2014[17]).

This correlation between VET and employability is strong at the upper secondary level, especially when the skills developed are in line with what the industry and labour market demands. Evidence shows that among young adults with upper secondary programmes as their highest level of education, those who graduated from vocational training tend to have higher employment rates and lower inactivity rates (OECD, 2017[15]). Figure 2.3 demonstrates this relationship to some extent among 25 to 34 year olds. For most of the countries, those with a tertiary qualification, including Short-cycle, Bachelor, Master’s, Doctoral or equivalent degrees, tend to have the highest rate of employment but those with vocational training tend to have a higher employment rate than those with general education. Australian young adults with vocational training tend to have a similar employment rates as those with a tertiary qualification.

Figure 2.3. Employment rates of 25 to 34 year olds, 2016
By educational attainment and programme orientation
picture

Note: Countries are ranked in descending order of the employment rate of 25-34 year-olds with tertiary education, including Short-cycle, Bachelor, Master’s, Doctoral or equivalent degrees. The label upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary (general or no distinction) refers to "general" for countries with a value for "vocational" and to "no distinction" for the others.

Source: OECD / ILO (2017), Education at a Glance Database, http://stats.oecd.org/. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (www.oecd.org/education/education-at-a-glance-19991487.htm).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933931979

Overview of the Australian VET system

Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) system involves different layers of government where the national common framework is developed together with the state/territory and federal governments. Each state and territory government adopts the common framework into their own VET system. The Australian VET system has a nationally agreed system in place for qualifications recognition and quality assurance of training providers. It is also industry-centered because various industry stakeholders identify the required training outcomes (OECD, 2014[18]).

Table 2.1 illustrates the different levels of government and stakeholders involved in the vocational education system as well as other regional economic and employment policy.

Table 2.1. Institutional mapping at the national and state/territory level

 

Overall decision-making

Regulation of VET

Industry liaison

National

Australian Government agency responsible for VET, currently the Department of Education and Training

COAG Industry and Skills Council (collaboration between the Australian Government and state and territory governments)

Australian Skills Quality Authority

Australian Industry and Skills Committee

Industry Reference Committees

Skills Service Organisations

State/territory

State and territory government departments responsible for VET

State/territory training authority. Two state VET regulators with limited powers.

Skills board or industry training advisory bodies

Source: Productivity Commission of the Australian Government, 2018, Report on Government Services 2018; and author's elaborations.

National level

At the national level, the Australian Government Department of Education and Training is responsible for national policies and programmes that help Australians access quality and affordable early child care and childhood education, school education, higher education, vocational education and training, international education and research. This department is responsible for post-school education and training through three distinct, but closely interrelated, areas: 1) provide policy advice and support to the Minister, underpinned by research, analysis and evaluation; 2) national programme management; 3) working relationships with state and territory governments, industry, education and training providers, and other stakeholders.

Australia’s VET system is led by a council made up of Australian, state and territory government ministers responsible for industry and skills. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Industry and Skills Council (CISC) provides leadership and direction for the sector. In May 2015, CISC established the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) to provide industry advice to CISC and to approve nationally recognised training packages for implementation.

Both the federal and state/territory-level governments have roles in the governance, regulation and funding of Australia’s national VET system.

About 4 400 registered training organisations (RTOs) deliver VET in Australia through public Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes, universities, secondary schools, private training providers, enterprises, industry organisations, community-based providers and other government organisations.

As the national VET regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is responsible for regulating RTOs against the VET Quality Framework. The framework includes standards for RTOs, the Australian Qualifications Framework, and requirements for fit and proper persons, financial viability and risk. ASQA is also responsible for registering all RTOs that offer courses to overseas students (Australian Skills Quality Authority, 2018[20]). Victoria and Western Australia have not referred their VET sector regulatory powers to ASQA, the national regulator, and maintain their own regulatory bodies. These two state VET regulators have limited powers to regulate RTOs that operate solely in those jurisdictions offering training and assessment services only to domestic students. The three VET regulators are responsible for accrediting courses that sit outside the training package development and endorsement process.

Training packages are a key feature of Australia’s national VET system. A training package is a set of nationally endorsed standards and qualifications for recognising and assessing peoples’ skills in a specific industry, industry sector or enterprise (Australian Industry and Skills Committee, 2016[21]).

The development of training packages follows a consultative approach, where industry is consulted on an ongoing basis to identify skills and training needs. Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) are the formal channel for considering industry skills requirements in the development and review of training packages and providing advice to the AISC (Australian Industry and Skills Committee, 2017[22]). IRC members are industry leaders who understand the skills needs of their sector, industry or occupation, and are supported by Skills Services Organisations (SSOs). SSOs are independent, professional service organisations that support IRCs to gather industry intelligence for the sectors they represent to inform training product development and review, ensuring training meets the needs of employers across Australia. IRCs are responsible for producing Industry Skills Forecasts, proposed Schedules of Work, Cases for Endorsement of training packages, and other submissions for consideration by the AISC. They also promote the use of VET in the sectors they represent. There are currently over sixty IRCs supported by six SSOs.

The AISC has also established a number of specific-purpose IRCs to provide an explicit focus on understanding the skilling requirements in sectors expecting to experience significant growth and significant workforce skilling requirements as a result of key industry or government priorities. These IRCs focus on identifying gaps in training products across tertiary education sectors to strengthen workforce development and support pathways for workers within and across industry sectors.

The AISC approves training packages for implementation, which are then formally endorsed by all skills ministers through CISC. According to its Terms of Reference, the AISC may also provide industry advice on the implementation of national training policies; providing direction to research priorities within the VET sector; provide industry advice to COAG on training provider and regulator standards and co-ordinate industry engagement in relevant COAG meetings.

Council of Australian Governments (COAG)

This is the peak intergovernmental forum in Australia, comprising the Prime Minister, State Premiers, Territory Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA). Its role is to initiate, develop and monitor the implementation of policy reforms (including in VET) that are of national significance and which require co-operative action by Australian governments.

Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

ASQA is the national regulator for Australia’s VET sector, responsible for: registering training providers; ensuring that organisations comply with the conditions and standards for registration, including by carrying out compliance audits; accrediting VET courses.

State/territory and local levels

Each Australian state and territory government has a training authority with the main responsibilities of providing strategic direction to VET, through the development and implementation of policies; planning and reporting on VET strategies; purchasing training on behalf of their government, and administering funding and financial incentives for VET within the state/territory; regulating the VET sector locally, through quality assurance and performance monitoring; and supporting and advising training organisations, employers and the community on VET issues.

The state/territory training authorities are directly responsible for delivering policy, strategy and funding for skills development and training at the local level. One example of a common VET policy at the state level is the definition of priority skills lists, specific to each state, which are periodically revised through industry and community consultation and labour market research, and determine VET qualifications that are eligible for Government subsidies.

State training authorities consult and gather intelligence from industry and peak bodies to inform policy and strategy directions, and sometimes work in partnership with local community organisations to co-develop and fund skills development programmes. The case studies in the following chapters will show an example of a workforce development strategy that entails partnerships between state government departments and local industry (See Chapter 5), and another of a pre-employment programme which is an initiative of a local community organisation, co-developed and funded by a state training authority (See Chapter 6).

New South Wales (NSW)

The NSW Department of Industry, through Training Services NSW, is the State Training Authority, leading strategic policy, planning, funding, and regulating the VET sector in the state. It is also responsible for contract management of training providers and for implementing quality assurance and performance monitoring.

The NSW Skills Board is responsible for providing independent, high-level, strategic advice on the NSW VET system and for overseeing major reforms of the system. It receives administrative support from Training Services NSW. The Board has established two reference groups, which will provide input on specific matters relevant to VET and skills reform: an Industry Reference Group and a Provider Reference Group. For example, the Industry Reference Group will be consulted on matters such as the implementation of reforms to the VET system in NSW; labour market trends, skills shortages and current and future skills and workforce development needs; quality assurance and regulatory issues in VET, including industry engagement in independent validations of assessment; the performance of the VET system in delivering on industry skills priorities in NSW; areas for possible research and innovation, and emerging issues for the VET sector.

Industry Training Advisory Bodies (ITABs) are autonomous, industry-based bodies, contracted by the NSW Department of Industry, to represent their specific industries in:

  • identifying industry skill needs, priorities and skills development issues for funded training in NSW;

  • promoting training to industry and assisting in the take up of funded training;

  • advising the Department about apprenticeship and traineeship arrangements;

  • advising on the development, review and implementation of training packages;

  • supporting the delivery of VET to school students.

They may also advise RTOs on registration processes and accreditation and review of courses, on a fee for service basis. There are currently 11 ITABs in NSW, covering major industry areas, and their board members represent significant enterprises, employers and unions of their respective industry sectors2.

Table 2.2. Recent VET initiatives and reforms in NSW

Year

Smart and Skilled

2014 - continuing

This VET reform has been structured to allow people to learn the skills they need to find a job and make progress in their careers. This reform includes:

  • Entitlement for entry level training including (and up to) certificate III targeted support for higher level qualifications (NSW Skills Lists defines subsidised courses)

  • Better information, informed choice along with quality improvement

  • Recognition of the role and function of TAFE NSW as the public provider

  • Increased support for regions and equity groups

Access to Smart and Skilled expanded (2016 onwards)

2016 - continuing

The main goal of this initiative is to enhance the access to training for youth via:

  • fee-free scholarships for socially disadvantaged

  • scholarships to students in STEM related training and vocational qualifications

  • Places for job training that will help the delivery of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and free VET for people with a disability

$14.7 million to Boost Agri Skills

2017 - continuing

Partner with peak grain and cotton industry bodies, the NSW government's goal is to provide $14.7 million over the next three years for subsidised training to help the NSW agricultural sector recruit new talents and upskill existing workers.

Will help industry with skills development in farm machinery, business management, emerging technologies (drones and satellite data) in agriculture.

Regional VET Pathways Programme

2015 - continuing

This initiative helps about 1000 15-to 19-year-olds who are NEET to find opportunities in education, employment, and training. The programme focuses on five regions: Richmond-Tweed region; Mid-North Coast region; Capital region; Central West region; New England North West region

Source: NCVER, 2018, VET Knowledge Bank Timeline of Australian VET policy initiatives 1998-2017 | VOCEDplus, the international tertiary education and research database, http://www.voced.edu.au/vet-knowledge-bank-timeline-australian-vet-policy-initiatives-1998-2017 (accessed on 03 May 2018).

Tasmania

Skills Tasmania is Tasmania's State Training Authority (part of the Department of State Growth), responsible for developing strategies and providing support, advice, and funding for the VET system within the state. Skills Tasmania developed an Industry Advice Framework in late 2013 following the dissolution of the industry-led Skills Tasmania Board on 30 June 2013. The Framework established the Endorsed Strategic Partners, which are industry associations with the role of providing high-level strategic advice on training and workforce development on behalf of their constituencies. At the end of May 2016, there were 13 Endorsed Strategic Partners representing specific industry groups.

Skills Tasmania has also hosts consultation sessions to gather advice on training and workforce development priorities and needs from a range of actors: 'Regional Industry Leaders' Forums', through which business leaders in regional areas are consulted; 'Community Conversations', for individuals, small businesses and community groups; and 'RTO Conversations' sessions. Skills Tasmania also employs Workforce Development Consultants, who consult with industry representatives to gather intelligence for informing skills development strategies and planning.

Table 2.3. Recent VET policy reforms in Tasmania

Name

Year

Description

Training Entitlement Policy

2014 - continuing

For all Tasmanians who did not already have a certificate III or higher qualifications were given entitlement to a government subsidised training place in a certificate III qualification. This is in line with the requirements of the National Training Entitlement as agreed between governments in the National Partnership Agreement for Skills Reform.

Training and Workforce Development Act

2013 – continuing

The main objective of this legislation is to establish workforce development and training system to foster skilled workforce that can contribute to social and economic progress in Tasmania. The proposed system consists of:

  • VET including Tasmania's traineeship and apprenticeship system

  • Other training or skills and workforce development

  • Foundation skills

The legislation also established 1) Tasmanian Traineeships and Apprenticeships Committee (TTAC) to have accessible systems and procedures for training contracts and vocational placements; 2) TasTAFE, a new entity public VET provider in Tasmania that merges Tasmanian Polytechnic and the Tasmanian Skills Institute.

Training and Work Pathways Programme launched

2016 – continuing

The aim is to provide support towards employment and access to training for Tasmanians facing disadvantage. The programme brings a series of grant for targeted projects that address specific themes and barriers and support people facing disadvantage and barriers towards VET participation and finding employment.

Source: NCVER, 2018, VET Knowledge Bank Timeline of Australian VET policy initiatives 1998-2017 | VOCEDplus, the international tertiary education and research database, http://www.voced.edu.au/vet-knowledge-bank-timeline-australian-vet-policy-initiatives-1998-2017 (accessed on 03 May 2018).

Queensland

The Department of Education and Training (DET) is Queensland’s State Training Authority, leading strategic policy, planning, funding, and regulating the VET sector in the state. Jobs Queensland is an independent statutory entity established by the Queensland Government with the aim of giving a strong voice for industry and regions on skills priorities and long-term workforce planning. To achieve that, Jobs Queensland engages with industry, industry associations and peak bodies, regions, communities, employers and unions to:

  • provide strategic advice on future skills needs, helping government to prioritise its investment in VET;

  • provide strategic advice on apprenticeships and traineeships in order to enable them to be a key pathway to employment and a skilled workforce;

  • undertake workforce planning and development initiatives;

  • commission research into future industry needs.

Table 2.4. Recent VET reforms and initiatives in Queensland

Name

Year

Description

Great skills. Real Opportunities

2013-2018

Five-year action plan to improve access and completion of skills training necessary to find a job. Training would focus on closely aligning skills need and training, targeted investment based on industry guidance, and widening access and choice for students.

Rescuing TAFE

2015 - continuing

The goal of this initiative is to support the TAFE sector and provide high-quality training in Queensland by restoring TAFE Queensland as the public provider of VET through $34 million government investment during the three consecutive years.

What's Next (Out-of-home care) OOHC Fund

2017 - continuing

This initiative is for young people in Queensland who have been in out-of-home care (OOHC) to have access to VET to raise job prospects and opportunities. Youth will be able to receive assistance from:

  • What's Next pathways officer to navigate the VET system and to make informed choices

  • Assessing options and skills to find a suitable job and career path

  • Financial support to meet the cost of training

  • Payment for other training-related expenses

Back to Work Regional Employment Package

2016 – continuing

This package aims to increase employment opportunities in regional Queensland.

  • $80 million support for employers to regional workers, particularly among the disadvantaged (long-term unemployment, youth, mature-age job seekers), and indigenous population.

  • $10 million for the Certificate III Guarantee Boost programme to increase access to subsidised courses

  • $10 million for Back to Work officers who are knowledgeable about the local economic condition and employers who can connect local employers and job seekers through Regional Employment Networks.

Source: NCVER, 2018, VET Knowledge Bank Timeline of Australian VET policy initiatives 1998-2017 | VOCEDplus, the international tertiary education and research database, http://www.voced.edu.au/vet-knowledge-bank-timeline-australian-vet-policy-initiatives-1998-2017 (accessed on 03 May 2018).

Table 2.5. VET reforms with a targeted local focus in NT, ACT, VIC, SA, and WA.

Name

Region

Date

Description

Job Plan 3 (Skilling Territorians)

Northern Territory

2016 - continuing

Building upon the two previous job plans to foster job growth and skills development in the territory, Job Plan 3 consists of workforce employment and training strategy and key priority areas for the territory.

Skilled Capital Initiative

Australian Capital Territory

2015 - continuing

This entitlement programme has been developed as part of the National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform (NPASR). This involved comprehensive support system to help students access the training and complete the programme as well as consultations to identify the needs of diverse group of students. Given the concerns of high dropout rates among RTOs and the need for more support for those going through certificate II level qualifications, subsidy amount has been subsequently changed.

Regional and Specialist Training Fund

Victoria

2017 - continuing

This is a targeted for funding stream under Skills First to meet local industry and community training needs in Victoria. The funding will help training providers to deliver training for selected courses in specific regions via higher subsidies and grant payments. In addition, this will help students to access training and develop skills that are relevant to the local industry.

SA's Industry Priority Qualifications Survey

South Australia

2016 - continuing

SA is conducting this survey and to identify and meet the future skills priorities and accordingly align the system. Findings from this survey and industry consultations help align the public investment to identify and train youth with relevant skills for the local industry and economy.

Future Skills WA

Western Australia

2014 - continuing

Future Skills WA (Now Jobs and Skills WA) is the way WA government prioritises its investments on courses that help prepare people with the skills that are in high demand. This initiative offers a guaranteed spot for eligible students with subsidies to enrol in courses with state priority qualifications.

Source: NCVER, 2018, VET Knowledge Bank Timeline of Australian VET policy initiatives 1998-2017 | VOCEDplus, the international tertiary education and research database, http://www.voced.edu.au/vet-knowledge-bank-timeline-australian-vet-policy-initiatives-1998-2017 (accessed on 03 May 2018).

The evolving role of Apprenticeships

The number of apprentices and trainees in Australia has seen an increase in the early 2000s, particularly in metal and vehicle and building sectors. These two sectors still has the largest number of apprentices and trainees. However, since around 2012 several trade occupations, which include Technicians and Trades Workers as classified by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013[24]) saw a decline in the number of apprentices and trainees, especially in the metal and vehicle industry (Figure 2.4). This is in line with the skills shortage in occupations relevant to these industry sectors in Australia.

Figure 2.4. Number of Australians in apprenticeship or traineeship by trade occupation
picture

Source: NCVER, 2017, Historical time series of apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia, from 1963, NCVER, Adelaide.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933931998

Across different states and territories, New South Wales has had the highest number of apprentices and trainees followed by Victoria and Queensland. However, in the last five years, the number of apprentices and trainees has sharply dropped among these three states as well as South Australia. This could reflect an increase in the drop-out or cancellation rate and/or low commencement rates of apprenticeships among these states and territories. Given the projected increase in employment in many of these states with declining apprentices, boosting apprenticeship opportunities at the local level can help reduce the skill shortages in the states and territories.

Figure 2.5. Number of Australians in apprenticeship or traineeship by state and territory
picture

Source: NCVER, 2017, Historical time series of apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia, from 1963, NCVER, Adelaide.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933932017

Table 2.6. Relevant reforms and initiatives in Australia regarding apprenticeships

Year

Name or State/Territory

Description

2012

Commencement initiatives

Commencement incentives for existing worker apprenticeships and traineeships not on the National Skills Needs List (NSNL) removed from 1 July 2012

Commencement and completion incentives for diploma and advanced diploma qualifications not leading to aged care, child care or enrolled nursing removed from 23 October 2012.

Commencement incentives for part-time apprenticeships and traineeships removed from 23 October 2012. The following cohorts unaffected: part-time, certificate III/IV qualifications on NSNL, school-based apprenticeships and traineeships, and part-time diploma and advanced diploma qualifications leading to aged care, child care or enrolled nursing.

2013

Alternative approach for trade positions

Alternative Pathways for the Trades Program announced to develop an alternative approach to the traditional trade apprenticeship model. Programme to trial an initial period of full-time training at a recognised training provider, followed by structured on-the-job training with an employer.

2014

Support measures

Announcement of Trade Support Loans of up to $20 000 over four years to apprentices undertaking a certificate III or IV qualification leading to occupations on the NSNL.

Announcement of Australian Apprenticeship Support Network to replace Australian Apprenticeship Centres from 1 July 2015 with the aim to increase completion rates through targeted support to apprentices and employers.

2015

New South Wales

The New South Wales Government announced:

$100 million will be invested to increase training options for employers, which will support over 46,000 training places for apprentices and trainees.

2015

Victoria

For the 2015-16 budget, Victorian Government announced:

Back to Work Fund (a capped two year $100m fund) which includes $50m to help more Victorians start an apprenticeship of traineeship, from 1 July 2015.

$3.5 million investment funding to continue support and guidance to apprentices aged 15-24 in their first year of apprenticeships for another 12 months (to 30 June 2016).

2015

Queensland

Queensland Government announced, from 1 July 2015:

New payroll tax rebate to employers who hire new apprentices or trainees.

$243 million for apprenticeships and trainees under User Choice. The programme supports up to 70 000 apprentices trainees across the state.

2015

Northern Territory

NT Government announced an additional $4.4 million for the 'Training for the Future - Employer Support Scheme (commenced July 2015). The Scheme will comprise of three grants for employers which are as follows:

A commencement grant of $1000 paid when an apprenticeship/traineeship contract is recorded within the Department of Business apprenticeship database;

A completion grant of $2000 paid when the apprentice or trainees training record has been classified as completed in the database;

A recommencement grant of $500 paid to an employer who employs an apprentice or trainee at some other point during their training, e.g. an apprentice who leaves the employment of a previous employer

2016

Training

Apprenticeship Training - Alternative Delivery Pilots establish five industry-led pilots to trial the adoption of alternative approaches of delivering apprenticeship training outside of the traditional trade training models.

2016

Tasmania

Tasmanian government implemented a new grant programme ($600,000 in funding) called "Supporting Small Business with Apprenticeships and Traineeships Programme" to help small businesses to employ an apprentice or trainee. This programme will include assistance with obtaining business advice, support to recruit the right employee, planning the role of apprentice or trainee, mentoring and advice for the business and apprentice/trainee.

2016

Queensland

In Queensland, in addition to apprentice and trainee wages being exempt from payroll tax, employers can claim a 50% rebate for payroll taxes (previously it was 25%) for the 2016-7 and 2017-8 financial years

2017

New Skilling Australians Fund

The Australian Government announced, on 9 May 2017 in its 2017-18 budget, the new Skilling Australians Fund. The Government strengthened its commitment in the 2018-19 budget by guaranteeing a level of funding in addition to the revenue collected through the new Skilling Australians Fund (an estimated $1.5 billion over five years with matching funds from the states and territories). Also announced was a new $60 million Industry Specialist Mentoring for Australian Apprentices programme that will provide support to apprentices and trainees, particularly during their first two years, in order to improve retention rates.

2018

Industry Specialist Mentoring for Australian Apprenticeships

The Industry Specialist Mentoring for Australian Apprentices (ISMAA) program aims to increase apprentice retention rates, particularly in the first two years of training, in order to improve completion rates and support the supply of skilled workers in industries undergoing structural change.

Source: NCVER, 2018, VET Knowledge Bank Timeline of Australian VET policy initiatives 1998-2017.

A closer examination of recent patterns across states and territories indicate that the share of apprentices and trainees in-training has been declining since 2014. In the Australian Capital Territory, the percentage of apprentices in-training dropped by almost a half in 2016 compared to 2014, and has increased at a slow pace in the subsequent years (Figure 2.6). This share has dropped in all Australian states and territories, and can signal several possibilities, such as reduction in available apprenticeship opportunities, decline in interest among students, and increase in dropout rates.

Figure 2.6. The share of apprentices and trainees in Australia has been dropping
In-training, % of employed persons, across states and territories
picture

Note: Training rates are derived by calculating the number of apprentices and trainees (aged 15 years and over) in-training as at 31 March (NCVER data) as a percentage of employed persons (aged 15 years and over) as at February (ABS data). See ABS, Labour force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, June 2018, cat.no.6291.0.55.003.

Source: NCVER, 2018, Australian vocational education and training statistics: Data slicer: Apprentices and trainees, March 2018, NCVER, Adelaide.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933932036

The number of apprentices in-training has slightly declined in both trade and non-trade positions across all states and territories between 2014 and 2018. The drop in non-trade positions was more pronounced than in trade positions (Figure 2.7, Figure 2.8). For non-trade positions, the drop was the greatest in New South Wales, where the number of apprentices in-training declined by around 25 000 units in 2018 compared to 2014, and in Victoria, where the number of people in-training more than halved over the same period (Figure 2.7). Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Tasmania had the lowest number of apprentices in-training in non-trade positions but the numbers stayed stable in the recent years.

Figure 2.7. Number of Australians in-training, (non-trade occupations), by state and territory
picture

Note: As at 31 March 2018 for in-training. 12-months ending 31 March for all other statuses

Source: NCVER, 2018, Australian vocational education and training statistics: Data slicer: Apprentices and trainees, March 2018, NCVER, Adelaide.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933932055

The number of Australians in-training in trade positions decreased across all states and territories, but to a limited extent. A large drop was registered in Queensland, where the number of persons in-training decreased by more than 10 000 unites between 2014 and 2018 (Figure 2.8). Similar to Figure 2.7, New South Wales has the largest number of apprentices in-training, followed by Victoria and Queensland.

Figure 2.8. Number of Australians in-training (trade occupations) by state and territory
picture

Note: As at 31 March 2018 for in-training. 12-months ending 31 March for all other statuses

Source: NCVER, 2018, Australian vocational education and training statistics: Data slicer: Apprentices and trainees, March 2018, NCVER, Adelaide.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933932074

Figure 2.9 illustrates the long-term trend on the number of apprenticeship completions across states and territories from 1995. In 1995, the number of completions in 12 months was similar across most of the states and territories. As most of the apprentices are in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, most of the completions come these states. The number of completions began to diverge from these three states compared to other states and territories throughout the period until 2012. Since then, these three states experienced a large drop in the number of completions, nearly by half.

Figure 2.9. Number of students completing apprenticeships or traineeships in 12 months (1995-2017)
picture

Source: NCVER, 2017, Historical time series of apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia, from 1963, NCVER, Adelaide.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933932093

Similar to statistics on the percentage of students in-training, the number of completions in trade occupations decreased only slightly in the recent years whereas it dropped for non-trade occupations in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland (Figure 2.10, Figure 2.11).

Figure 2.10. The number of apprenticeship completions in non-trade occupations
picture

Note: As at 31 March 2018 for in-training. 12-months ending 31 March for all other statuses

Source: NCVER, 2018, Australian vocational education and training statistics: Data slicer: Apprentices and trainees, March 2018, NCVER, Adelaide.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933932112

Figure 2.11. The number of apprenticeship completions in trade occupations
picture

Note: As at 31 March 2018 for in-training. 12-months ending 31 March for all other statuses

Source: NCVER, 2018, Australian vocational education and training statistics: Data slicer: Apprentices and trainees, March 2018, NCVER, Adelaide.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933932131

Another trend to consider is the number of cancellations and withdrawals from apprenticeship programmes. If the number of cancellations increase then accordingly the number of completions will drop and this can be exacerbated if the number of apprentices in-training is also decreasing. The number of cancellations and withdrawals in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland has been higher than other states and territories in the last few decades but in recent years, the number of cancellations has declined (Figure 2.12).

Figure 2.12. Number of apprenticeship cancellations/withdrawals in 12 months by state and territory
picture

Source: NCVER, 2017, Historical time series of apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia, from 1963, NCVER, Adelaide.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933932150

Within different trade occupations, the printing sector has the lowest and most stable number of cancellations (Figure 2.13). For all other trade occupations, this number has been increasing since the early 2000s. The largest number of cancellations is found among occupations in the building, other services, and metal and vehicle sectors. Furthermore, the number of cancellations in electrical positions rose three-fold compared to the early 2000s. Given that some of these sectors, such as electrical, metal and vehicle, face skill shortages in many Australian states and territories, more attention should be paid to reduce the number of cancellations and withdrawals in these sectors.

Figure 2.13. Number of apprenticeship cancellations/withdrawals by trade occupation
picture

Source: NCVER, 2017, Historical time series of apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia, from 1963, NCVER, Adelaide.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933932169

One of the outcomes to consider for VET is the share of students that did not have a job prior to training but found a job afterwards. Figure 2.14 indicates the percentage of students who are employed after completing a VET qualification (by all providers) by state and territory in 2017. The figures are derived from the National Student Outcomes Survey, which is an annual survey of students awarded a qualification (graduates), or who successfully complete part of a course and then leave the VET system (subject completers). For all states and territories, about one in two students found employment following the training. This share is the largest in the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory and the lowest in New South Wales. This is in line with earlier charts where New South Wales has the highest number for both apprenticeship cancellations and completions among Australian states and territories. Although this cannot paint a whole picture, it suggests that New South Wales can seek measures to improve training to better reflect the unmet needs and also efforts to recruit and retain more students in-training.

Figure 2.14. The percentage of students who were not employed before training but employed afterwards (2017)
By state and territory
picture

Source: NCVER, 2017, VET student outcomes 2017, NCVER, https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/publications/all-publications/vet-student-outcomes-2017.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933932188

References

[16] Atkinson, G. and J. Stanwick (2016), Trends in VET: policy and participation, NCVER, Adelaide, https://www.ncver.edu.au/publications/publications/all-publications/trends-in-vet-policy-and-participation (accessed on 15 February 2018).

[24] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013), ANZSCO -- Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, 2013, Version 1.2, http://www.abs.gov.au/ANZSCO.

[22] Australian Industry and Skills Committee (2017), National training system, https://www.aisc.net.au/content/national-training-system.

[21] Australian Industry and Skills Committee (2016), Industry Reference Committees: Operating Framework for the Development of Training Packages, https://www.aisc.net.au/sites/aisc/files/documents/operating-framework-201605.pdf.

[20] Australian Skills Quality Authority (2018), Jurisdiction, https://www.asqa.gov.au/about/agency-overview/jurisdiction.

[26] NCVER (2018), Australian vocational education and training statistics: Data slicer: Apprentices and trainees, March 2018, NCVER, Adelaide.

[23] NCVER (2018), VET Knowledge Bank Timeline of Australian VET policy initiatives 1998-2017 | VOCEDplus, the international tertiary education and research database, NCVER, Adelaide, http://www.voced.edu.au/vet-knowledge-bank-timeline-australian-vet-policy-initiatives-1998-2017 (accessed on 03 May 2018).

[25] NCVER (2017), Historical time series of apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia, from 1963, NCVER, Adelaide.

[27] NCVER (2017), VET student outcomes 2017, NCVER, Adelaide, https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/publications/all-publications/vet-student-outcomes-2017.

[15] OECD (2017), Education at a Glance 2017: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2017-en.

[17] OECD (2014), Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2014-en.

[18] OECD (2014), Employment and Skills Strategies in Australia, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264207899-en.

[19] Productivity Commission of the Australian Government (2018), Report on Government Services 2018, https://www.pc.gov.au/research/ongoing/report-on-government-services/2017/child-care-education-and-training/vocational-education-and-training.

Notes

← 1. In the Australian context, this classification includes all qualifications at Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Level 5 and above, i.e. Diploma (AQF 5) and Advanced Diploma (AQF 6), as well as Associate, Bachelor, Master’s and Doctoral Degrees. Certificate-level qualifications are not included in this definition of tertiary education.

← 2. An assessment of the performance of NSW ITABs has been undertaken on behalf of the NSW Department of Industry, and is available at: https://www.training.nsw.gov.au/forms_documents/itabs/itab_review_report_2016.pdf

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