Understanding student motivations is important – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

Understanding student motivations is important – comment by CEO Jenny Dodd

NCVER’s recently released research report, The student journey: the many faces of completion and non-completion in VET‘ by Wibrow, Hall and Griffin is a useful addition to an understanding of completions. The report draws out that applying a blunt completion indicator of program completion as the main reportable success factor fails to tell the nuanced story of what motivates a learner to enrol in VET.

Both TDA and ITECA, the private training provider peak body, gave such feedback to the 2023 completions working group that delivered the very good report, National vocational education and training completions (Papadimitriou, D 2023, National vocational education and training completions, Skills SA, Adelaide). We both provided multiple examples where either funding arrangements or student motivations lead to enrolments in full qualifications when only the skill set is desired.

One of VET’s great attributes is that there are reasonably low requirements to enter a qualification. This makes it accessible for all. However, it also means that students can trial, they can grab a piece of learning, they can mix and match. Thus, there are often complex, non-linear and quite nuanced reasons why learners do not complete the full qualification.

The NCVER authors have also examined international contexts. They conclude, “international research has also considered reasons for non-completion, suggesting the need to look at what happens after non-completion to understand whether the incomplete training has been successful in some way” (p4). That is, students might enrol in a full qualification but when the student has got what they want, i.e. often a skill set, that is enough. The NCVER report states “based on this measure, an additional 19.8% of students who commenced in 2016 had a successful outcome with VET. This is on top of the 49.5% who successfully completed their program” (p1).

The authors also turn their attention to specific groups of students, such as those in regions and conclude that “while remote students have a slightly lower program completion rate than all students (47.9% compared with 49.5%), a higher proportion complete all enrolled subjects (24.4% compared with 19.8%). Considering both measures together means that 72.3% of remote students had some training success, compared with 69.3% of all students” (p1). However, the findings are not as positive for either First Nations students or students with disability.

The report writers also suggest that the proposed reforms to qualification design could address students’ ability to use their “prior or current training” (p1). TDA has been calling for qualifications to recognise prior learning for some time, so this is a welcome suggestion.

One of their next steps suggests that linking data sets in VET with higher education would help understand student movement between the sectors. With the work being undertaken in the Accord Implementation process this might be a first step for the new Australian Tertiary Education Commission. Understanding students and their enrolment characteristics can only help with the goal of harmonisation.

Thank you NCVER for a very useful addition to the story of completions that is contained in this report.

No final decision on jobs for migrant skills priority list: Jobs and Skills Australia

Jobs and Skills Australia says it has not made any final decisions on the occupations that will go on a priority skills list for migrants.

The Commissioner of Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) Professor Barney Glover told Senate Estimates last week that a final decision on the new Core Skills Occupation List (CSOL) will not be made until mid-August.

“At the moment were in consultation, and will continue to be in consultation, and we’re listening to a whole range of organisations under our tripartite mandate,” Professor Glover said.

There are over 700 occupations in scope for potential inclusion on the CSOL. JSA has grouped these occupations into three categories for consultation – a ‘confident on list’, a ‘confident off list’, and a
‘targeted for consultation’ group.

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald last week claimed that yoga instructors, martial artists and dog handlers have made it onto the list, while some trades occupations have been left off, despite the drastic shortage of skills in the home building sector.

Professor Glover said that JSA would take into account extensive data, advice and evidence from organisations about the suitability of certain occupations on the CSOL, including how well migrants do in the labour market when they arrive in Australia.

The Secretary of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations Natalie James said the work of JSA on the CSOL has been undertaken with the “utmost care and professionalism”.

“JSA is an independent agency and they’re doing a very thorough job of providing this advice to the Immigration Minister and a very thorough job in engaging with a range of stakeholders.”.

First Nations Focus 2024 – story collection

Today, we are releasing two more stories as a part of First Nations Focus 2024 – story collection, to highlight the great work of individuals and teams happening nationwide.

Ruby shines on journey from student to staff

Yorta Yorta woman, Ruby Bending-Norman’s dedication and commitment has proved an inspiration for her Indigenous peers and shown that forging the career of your dreams is always possible.

Ruby thought she had no chance of ever studying at university but is now well on the path to further post-secondary education.

Read Ruby’s story

Working with community to reduce family violence

Proud Kirrae Whurrong, Gundijitmarra, Gunai Kurnai woman Tanya McDonald teaches First Nations students working in the community services sector in Alice Springs to help reduce family violence.

The Charles Darwin University (CDU) VET Lecturer in Health and Community Services is one of the first female First Nations TAFE lecturers to join the University in Alice Springs.

Read Tanya’s story

TAFETalks: Impact of last two decades of VET policy on TAFE

Wednesday, 12 June 2024 2.00-3.00pm AEST

Following on from the success of the great debate at the TDA Convention 2024, join TDA’s TAFETalks to further explore the impact of last 20 years of VET policy on TAFE.

In his final public appearance as Managing Director of National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), Simon Walker will present key policy developments and data trends over the last two decades and prompt a broader conversation on the future of TAFE and the sector in light of the current policy agenda and the 2024/25 Federal budget.

Craig Robertson, CEO of the Victorian Skills Authority, and Mary Faraone, CEO of Holmesglen Institute and TDA Board Chair, will offer reflections on Simon’s insights. Engage with the panel of three experts in this interactive session.

Register here

Fee-Free TAFE - success story collection

With the Fee-Free TAFE – success story collection, TDA aims to celebrate the successful implementation of the Fee-Free TAFE program by TDA members and the positive impact on individuals and priority groups benefiting from this initiative. Today a success story from TAFE Queensland.

Beau uses Fee-Free TAFE funding to kick off his sporting career

After leaving high school with a passion for sport and a keen interest in AFL, Beau Robinson has begun studying to become a coach, thanks to TAFE Queensland’s Academy of Sport.

Read full story

Scholarships open for refugee students

The Public Education Foundation’s Friends of Zainab Secondary Scholarships help support refugee students through the critical years of their High School Certificate.

The scholarship was established in 2002 by Dorothy Hoddinott AO, the Principal of Holroyd High School in Sydney’s South West.

In its first year the scholarship enabled a young refugee, Zainab Kaabi, to complete her schooling and enter university.

There are two scholarships for Secondary students

  • Senior Secondary Scholarship, Year 10 for students currently enrolled in Year 10 in 2024 – an annual bursary of $1,000 will be provided for each of Years 11 and 12.
  • Senior Secondary Scholarship, Year 11 for students currently enrolled in Year 11 in 2024 – a one-off payment of $1,000 will be provided for Year 12.

See more

One million VET students about to be surveyed

Almost a million people who completed training in 2023 will soon be contacted as part of the National Student Outcomes Survey, being undertaken by NCVER.

The survey begins in June and runs until mid-August. Registered training organisations (RTOs) with enough survey responses will receive a free product that compares the satisfaction and outcomes of their students with students nationally.

NCVER is emailing RTOs to let them know about the survey and that some of their students will be invited to participate.

Information about the survey, including the privacy collection notice and frequently asked questions is available here.

TAFE SA in next WorldSkills round

TAFE SA is one of a number of TAFEs leading World Skills competitions in their regions.

As the 2024  Skillaroos prepare to depart for France, the cycle begins for the next group of Skillaroos through regional competitions.

TAFESA ran its first competition in May for plastering and dry wall applications. Success happens when students are well prepared, industry is engaged, and TAFE experts step in to lead – in this case TAFE SA’s Future Industry and Trades Director, Jesse Busse.

The SA Wall and Ceiling Association are also taking a strong role. Good luck to all competitors.

Resilience for vocational education providers amidst changing expectations

Through first-of-its-kind research – with Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS) and Insight Economics – TechnologyOne revealed that Australian higher education providers could save $8.4 billion by moving from on-premise software to SaaS.

This could be used to increase course offerings, upgrade facilities and undertake cutting-edge research to enhance the student experience.

Learn more about the research.

Diary Dates

Future Skills Organisation
Webinar: Building an AI-Empowered Workforce: Priority Framework’, in partnership with Mandala Partners
11 June 2024
More information

TAFETalks: Impact of last two decades of VET policy on TAFE
Wednesday 12 June 2024, 2.00-3.00pm AEST
Register here

Apprentice Employment Network NSW & ACT
2024 Skills Conference: Empowerment & Connection
12 June 2024
Dockside Darling Harbour, Sydney
More information

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Symposium 2024
Cultivating Creativity, Connections & Confidence in the Australian Tertiary Education Sector
12 June 2024
RMIT, Melbourne and online
More information

33rd National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’ 
‘VET partnerships powering a dynamic workforce’
10-12 July 2024
North Metropolitan TAFE, Perth
More information

National Apprentice Employment Network
National Conference ‘Skills for Life’
23-25 July 2024
Hilton Adelaide
More information

Victorian TAFE Association
TAFECreates 2024 State Conference
8-9 August 2024
More information

VET National Teaching & Learning Conference 2024
‘From Competence to Excellence – Strive to Inspire’
15-16 August 2024
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
Register here

National Skills Week 2024
‘It’s a Game Changer’
19-25 August 2024

47th WorldSkills Competition
10-15 September 2024
Lyon, France
More information

WFCP World Congress 2024
22-27 September 2024
St James, Jamaica, West Indies
More Information

AVETRA 2024 Conference
3-4 October 2024
University of Technology, Sydney
Save the date

2024 National VET Conference
31 October – 1 November 2024
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
More information