From education to employment

Vocational Education and Training (VET) System Provides Solid Skills Training

The issue of vocational education’s ability to match employers” demand for training seems to be one that will not be drifting off into the background.

In the past year, and before, a seemingly endless stream of employers (to paraphrase a children’s song, “all employers great and small”) has complained of the lack of basic skills that applicants for work currently demonstrate. Many complain of the deficit in “soft” skills, such as the customer facing skills of good communication, a pleasant professional manner, good telephone skills; but there are also gaps in the economy for other specifically skilled workers that employers are finding it troublesome to fill.

Vocational Education to the Rescue!

Which would be where the white stallions of vocational education and employer engagement come riding over the hill to save the day. If employers in Britain find it difficult to believe in the efficiency of the education system or the benefits to their business, then the results from other developed nations would make salutary reading.

A recent survey from Australia’s National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) on the Vocational Education Training (VET) system has exposed the general contentment of employers in that country with the vocational training on offer. Aiming to determine the ability of VET to meet the needs of employers, the findings seem to indicate that the employers in Australia are relatively happy with the training on offer and indeed that a significant number do make use of the opportunities on offer.

Survey Details

The survey is also a crucial tool in determining what drives choices in training from the point of view of the employers, to enable the decision makers in policy formulation to tailor provision to needs. The survey was conducted between February and September 2005, through the use of computer ““ assisted telephone interviews. The survey consisted of questions regarding the previous twelve months of training experiences, with employers selected randomly from the Australian Register of Business.

A total of 4,601 employers agreed to participate in the survey and were interviewed across Australia. Across Australia, the figures indicate the following participation; 57% of all employers used accredited training, 53% used unaccredited training and 79% provided informal training (meaning training on specific isolated instances of need regarding equipment or products). To summarise the significance of these definitions, accredited training leads to a national qualification, whilst unaccredited does not.

Details of the Figures

Of the employers using accredited training, they were further divided into smaller categories. 35% used accredited training because the job demanded vocational education, 28% employed a minimum of one apprentice or trainee, and 24% employed members of staff who were taking part in a nationally recognised training or qualification programme outside those of the apprenticeship and traineeship schemes. The employers using unaccredited training also divided further; 52% used this to provide employees with the skills required for the job, 29% to maintain standards, an 21% to improve the quality of their goods or services provided.

Unaccredited training proved to be more satisfying for employers; 92% were happy with this provision, as opposed to 79% being satisfied with that provided to apprentices and trainees and 80% satisfied with other nationally recognised training systems. Unaccredited training was deemed to be superior for employers to use due to reasons including the suitability of the course, the cost, the ability to use their own trainers, convenience, and flexibility.

The general picture, however, is positive. 85% of the employers surveyed stated that they saw education and training as important to their business’s success, and a further 86% include staff training within their business plans. The interest in unaccredited training is a fascinating one; assuming that the quality of the provision can be guaranteed, perhaps this can be the chosen route forward for the same issues in Britain.

Jethro Marsh

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