NCVER Research Messages 2022 Insights into the VET Sector for RTOs in Australia

NCVER Research Messages 2022: Insights into the VET Sector for RTOs in Australia

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has recently released its Research Messages 2022 report, highlighting a diverse range of research activities undertaken by the centre over the past year.

In 2022, NCVER’s research program included 12 reports, two submissions, three webinars, 21 external presentations, one discussion paper, one data visualisation/infographic, and 3,210 new titles in VOCEDplus.

As the independent national body responsible for managing and communicating research and statistics relating to Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector, NCVER’s study aims to inform policy development and decision-making to ensure the delivery of high-quality VET.

NCVER aims to influence VET policy and practice by providing valuable insights to governments, training organisations, and industry bodies to develop a skilled and capable Australian workforce and a strong economy. Its strategic in-house research program is crucial in achieving this goal by utilising integrated data and analytics to deliver world-class research relevantly and trusted by our stakeholders.

NCVER underscores that in today’s fast-paced environment, characterised by rapid technological advancements and significant changes to the workplace brought about by the pandemic, it is more important than ever that its research is responsive to the evolving needs of industry, government, and the VET sector.

NCVER communicated its research through webinars, podcasts, and the 31st National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference, ‘No Frills,’ held online in July 2022 due to the ongoing uncertainties of travel under COVID-19 restrictions.

Key Research Areas

The Australian Government, along with territory and state governments and other vital stakeholders, guided NCVER’s 2022 research program, which focussed on a range of themes, including the impact of the pandemic on the VET-skilled industry workforce, youth transitions, and VET delivery practices.

COVID-19 Pandemic Insights

The COVID-19 pandemic has created new training requirements for employers in Australia, with over 40% reporting the need for training to operate safely. The VET system must adapt and innovate to meet these skill needs. The shift to online training delivery has accelerated, with blended delivery experiencing sustained growth.

However, not all students have the necessary skills for effective online learning, particularly for practical courses.

The pandemic has also adversely affected young Australians’ transitions, with many unable to follow typical pathways and experiencing negative impacts on their well-being.

The Online delivery of VET during the COVID-19 pandemic: part 2 study revealed the need for a micro-level analysis, of course, material suitability for online delivery and an expected increase in RTOs’ online training options.

VET Delivery and Practice Insights

The NCVER also conducted research studies on the Australian VET sector, focussing on online learning, quality of delivery, and competency-based training.

The research found that high-quality online delivery is essential to ensure that the VET sector remains a reliable source of skills for the Australian labour market during and beyond the pandemic.

However, no “one size fits all” model exists for best practice online teaching and learning. The research also found that the definition of high-quality VET delivery differs among RTO types and depends on their purposes, missions, and goals.

The fundamental principles of high-quality delivery in VET, common across RTOs, are transformational, student-centred, fit for purpose, and evolutionary.

The research delved into adding value to competency-based training (CBT), an approach to VET that focuses on an individual’s skill mastery. The study found that CBT has been fundamental to how accredited VET is delivered in Australia for the last three decades, but there is a need to expand the approach to add more value to it.

(References: Insights for delivering VET online, Delivering high-quality VET: What matters to RTOs, and Adding value to competency-based training)

VET Student Outcomes Insights

The pandemic has significantly impacted VET students’ engagement and outcomes, with many facing increased barriers to participation and completion.

The report finds that some students have experienced heightened stress and anxiety levels, while others have struggled with the lack of face-to-face interaction and support.

However, the report also identifies strategies for supporting student engagement and success, such as providing targeted support and using digital technologies to enhance learning.

The NCVER report emphasises the importance of engaging VET students in meaningful ways to promote positive outcomes, including increased completion rates and better job prospects. The report also identifies challenges such as skill shortages, underemployment, and the need to improve career guidance and support services.

What Research Messages 2022 Report Mean for RTOs

The NCVER Research Messages 2022 report underscores the following:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted VET delivery and student outcomes, with the shift towards online and remote learning leading to new challenges and opportunities for RTOs.
    • RTOs need to be flexible and adaptive to cater to the changing needs of students.
  • The report highlights the importance of student engagement in VET and the need for RTOs to provide support services and guidance to help students succeed.
    • RTOs need to focus on improving student retention rates and overall outcomes.
  • The report emphasises the role of technology in enhancing VET delivery and student engagement.
    • RTOs must embrace innovations and technologies to improve their services and stay competitive.
  • There is a growing need for RTOs to collaborate with industry and employers to ensure that VET programs meet the workforce’s needs and provide students with relevant skills and knowledge.
  • The report also highlights the importance of quality assurance in VET delivery.
    • RTOs must maintain high-quality standards and ensure their programs are relevant and up-to-date.

The NCVER Research Messages 2022 report underscores the importance of adaptability, student engagement, technology, industry collaboration, and quality assurance for RTOs to thrive in the changing landscape of VET delivery and student outcomes.

RTOs can use NCVER’s research to inform their policies, practices, and decision-making to deliver high-quality VET that meets the needs of learners, industry, and the wider community.

Staying informed with the latest research and developments in the VET sector will help RTOs adapt to the changing needs of learners and the workforce.

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