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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2003  
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Contents >> Education and training >> Education and work: Work-related training

Education and work: Work-related training

In 2001, 4.6 million people in the labour force completed one or more work-related training courses, an increase of 67% (almost 2 million people) since 1993.

Completion of work-related training by employees has become increasingly valued as a means of achieving economic growth and productivity, job security and advancement in the workplace.1 The past decade has seen the Australian labour force undergo many changes, with increased emphasis on multi-skilling, the broadening of job descriptions and more diverse working arrangements (see Australian Social Trends 2001, Changes experienced at work). The late 1980s saw a shift toward emphasis on education and training, with the Australian government recognising that developing skills in the labour force would promote economic growth and improve Australia's international competitiveness (see Australian Social Trends 1995, Employee training).

Participation in work-related training (courses and on-the-job training) by employees increased by around 6% from 1989 to 1993, a period that saw the introduction of the Training Guarantee Legislation in 1990. Participation rose more rapidly between 1993 and 2001, reflecting increased requirements for technical and professional skills in the work force.

PARTICIPATION IN WORK-RELATED TRAINING BY PERSONS IN THE LABOUR FORCE(a)
1993
1997
2001

%
%
%
Undertook work-related training(b)(c)
73.8
72.8
75.2
Completed a work-related training course
29.8
41.6
44.6
Did on-the-job training
70.7
65.5
68.8
Did not undertake work-related training(d)
26.2
27.2
24.8

million
million
million

Total
9.2
9.4
10.3

(a) Includes persons who were marginally attached to the labour force, excluding those aged 15-20 years (for the 1993 and 1997 survey) and 15-24 years (for the 2001 survey) who were still at school.
(b) People may have undertaken more than one type of training and therefore components do not add to total persons in the labour force.
(c) In the 12 months prior to the survey.
(d) Includes persons who started training courses in the 12 months prior to the survey but did not complete them.

Source: Education and Training Experience, Australia, 2001 (ABS cat. no. 6278.0).


Participation in work-related training
The data in this article come from the ABS Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology conducted in 2001, and the 1997 Survey of Education and Training. Figures represent work-related training completed within the 12 months prior to the survey.

The surveys provide information on participation in work-related training by persons aged 15-64 years. Most of the data presented in this article refer to training undertaken by wage or salary earners.

Data on training course completions were collected for a maximum of four training courses per person.

Wage or salary earners, as defined by the Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology, are those persons who work for an employer for wages or salary in their main job, excluding persons working in their own business.

Individuals in the labour force are people who, during the reference week, were employed, or unemployed and actively looking for work. In this article this group includes those marginally attached to the labour force.

Work-related training refers to activities that are undertaken primarily to obtain, maintain or improve employment-related skills or competencies. It can be further divided into work-related training courses and on-the-job training (i.e. 'learn-as-you-go' training).


Completion of work-related training courses
In 2001, 4.6 million people in the labour force completed one or more work-related training courses, an increase of 67% (almost 2 million participants) since 1993. During this period, the proportion of all people in the labour force who completed a work-related training course increased from 30% to 45%, while the proportion of those doing on-the-job training decreased slightly. This change reflects increasing importance being placed on the completion of formalised, structured courses, with Australia's training system now based on nationally agreed industry competencies, qualifications and assessment.2 Employers are encouraged to deal with registered training organisations (RTOs), as they provide nationally recognised training.

Who completes work-related training courses?
In 2001, most work-related training courses were completed by people who were wage and salary earners at the time of training (84%). Courses completed by people working in their own business or under other arrangements made up 12% of work-related training completed, with a further 4% of courses completed by individuals who were not working. The remainder of this article focuses on the 8.3 million training courses completed by wage and salary earners in 2001.

While an equal proportion of work-related training courses were completed by men and women in 2001, training was more likely to be undertaken during the early to middle stages of a person's career. Almost 78% of all training courses were completed by wage and salary earners aged 25-54 years. Training courses were less likely to be undertaken or completed by individuals at the beginning of their working experience (16% among 15-24 years) and closer to the age of retirement (6% among 55-64 years).

TRAINING COURSE COMPLETIONS BY WAGE AND SALARY EARNERS - 2001
Proportion of training course completions(a)
Change in course completions 1997-2001

Occupation Group(b)(skill level(c))
%
%
Managers and administrators (1)
7.6
15.0
Professionals (1)
30.3
7.2
Associate professionals (2)
13.8
26.7
Tradespersons and related workers (3)
8.4
8.7
Advanced clerical and service (3)
3.2
7.1
Intermediate clerical, sales and service (4)
19.2
16.3
Intermediate production and transport (4)
5.6
19.7
Elementary clerical, sales and service (5)
8.0
33.2
Labourers and related workers (5)
4.0
11.8
Sector of employment(b)
Public
34.9
1.5
Private
65.1
23.8
Employment type(b)
Full-time
76.2
7.9
Part-time
23.8
49.1

Total(d)
100.0
. .

'000
%

Total(e)
8,261.6
14.7

(a) In the 12 months prior to the survey, by persons who were wage and salary earners at the time of training.
(b) Relates to occupation in job of main period of employment over the previous 12 months.
(c) Skill level ranked from 1 (the highest) to 5 (the lowest) based on the ASCO - Australian Classification of Occupations, Second Edition (ABS cat. no. 1220.0).
(d) Responses not determined were excluded prior to the calculation of percentages.
(e) Includes responses not determined.

Source: ABS 1997 Survey of Education and Training; Education and Training Experience, Australia, 2001 (ABS cat. no. 6278.0).


Employment characteristics
The distribution of work-related training course completions varies across different occupation groups. In 2001, Professionals and Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers completed the most work-related training courses (30% and 19% respectively).

Variation in the number of work-related training course completions between occupation groups partly reflects their differing sizes. For example, as Professionals and Associate professionals together made up the largest occupation group of employees in 2001 (around 30%),3 they also completed the highest proportion of training courses (44%). However, patterns of training course completions are also likely to be related to differing demands for skill and knowledge development in certain occupations groups. For example, lower skilled occupations such as Labourers and related workers (completing 4% of all courses) may develop skills on the job rather than through formal training courses.

Between 1997 and 2001, the number of training course completions increased for each of the broad occupation groups. Most notably, work-related training course completions increased by 33% for Elementary clerical, sales and service workers and 27% for Associate professionals.

The number of work-related training course completions by part-time wage and salary earners increased by almost 50% between 1997 and 2001. This may be attributed to the steady rise in part-time employment within the labour force over the same period.3

Employer characteristics
In 2001, 35% of work-related training courses were completed by wage and salary earners employed within the public sector, although this sector accounted for 20% of all wage and salary earners in the labour force.4 In contrast, the private sector made up 80% of wage and salary earners in 2001 but accounted for 65% of training course completions. These differences can largely be attributed to the occupational composition of each sector.

Small businesses (i.e. those with fewer than 20 workers) are less likely than other businesses to offer work-related training. Although in 2001, 38% of wage and salary earners (working within the private sector) were employed by small businesses,4 only 13% of course completions were from this group. On the other hand, 87% of all work-related training courses over the same period were completed by wage and salary earners in larger businesses, which may have a greater need for standard training across their organisations, as well as the resources to support such training.

Field of work-related training
Completion of training courses in specific fields reflects industry needs for certain skills and expertise in particular areas. In 2001, 29% of all work-related training course completions were in the Management and professional field. However, completions of Health and safety training courses increased most rapidly between 1997 and 2001, from 12% to 17%. This may reflect more attention being placed on health and safety issues in the workplace than in the past.

In 2001, lower proportions of work-related training course completions were recorded in fields such as Trade and craft, Transport, plant and machinery operation, and Clerical and office. Where skills required are lower, and/or labour with skills needed is in abundance, employers may be less likely to offer work-related training.5 It has also been suggested that there is a lower return on investment in training for employers who largely rely on contracted labour (such as trade work), due to the more transient nature of contract employment.5

TRAINING COURSE COMPLETIONS(a): FIELD OF TRAINING
Graph - Training course completions(a): field of training


(a) In the 12 months prior to the survey, by persons who were wage and salary earners at the time of training.

Source: ABS 1997 Survey of Education and Training; ABS 2001 Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology.


Vocational education and training
Although many Australians participate in employer provided work-related training, vocational education and training (VET) programs also represent a major source of work-related training. VET is education and training for work. It aims to recognise and develop competencies and skills of learners, and assist participants to achieve nationally-recognised qualifications.2 VET is an industry-led system in Australia, developing industry-recognised training packages under the leadership of the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA).

In May 2001, there were over 4,000 registered training organisations, including Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes, private training and assessment organisations, universities, schools and adult education providers.2 Close to 1.8 million people (13% of Australia's working age population) participated in VET in 2001, 78% more participants than in 1991. Within the VET field, most study undertaken in 2001 was in the areas of Business, administration, and economics (20%), Service, hospitality and transportation (13%) and Engineering and surveying (12%).6


Time spent on work-related training
Most work-related training courses are relatively short in duration, with 60% of course completions in 2001 being undertaken in less than 10 hours. Completions of shorter courses (i.e. less than 10 hours) increased by 26% between 1997 and 2001, accounting for the overall increase in work-related training course completions over the same period. The number of course completions with a duration of 10 hours or more remained stable.

Consistent with this trend, the average duration of courses completed by wage and salary earners fell from 20.6 hours to 17.4 hours between 1997 and 2001. Across industries, Communication services and Government administration and defence were the only industry groups that experienced an increase in the average duration of courses completed by wage and salary earners between 1997 and 2001 (up by 2.1 and 4.1 hours respectively).

TIME SPENT ON EACH TRAINING COURSE(a)
Graph - Time spent on each training course(a)

(a) Completed in the 12 months prior to the survey, by persons who were wage and salary earners at the time of training.

Source: ABS 1997 Survey of Education and Training; ABS 2001 Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology.


Training course costs and support
Participation in work-related training is largely supported by employers who, in most cases, bear the costs in terms of time and money. In 2001, 77% of training course completions were undertaken wholly during work time with a further 7% undertaken in both work and own time. The financial costs of training were incurred by participants for 7% of all course completions. For those courses that involved a cost to the participant, the average expenditure was slightly higher in 2001 than in 1997 ($272 per course, compared with $243). The average cost of training course completions for men was substantially higher than for women ($374 compared with $199 per course). This variation is likely to be related to the differing types of courses men and women complete, and the fields in which they tend to be employed.

Most work-related training courses completed were internal courses (i.e. courses were mainly attended by people working for the person’s employer at the time of training). Of the 27% of training courses that were external, almost three-quarters were completed by participants who received some financial support. In 2001, support for training was provided mainly through employers paying for training fees (14% of courses) and providing paid study leave (13% of courses, double the proportion in 1997). Government administration and defence industries provided the most support for external training in 2001, funding 85% of external course completions within that industry. Accommodation, cafes and restaurants, and Culture and recreation industries provided the lowest proportion of financial support compared with other industries, funding 63% of external course completions within those industries.

TRAINING COURSE COMPLETIONS(a): TRAINING SUPPORT RECEIVED AND COSTS OF TRAINING
1997
2001

When training course conducted
%
%
In work time
74.7
77.2
In own time
18.1
15.8
In both work and own time
7.1
7.0
Whether employee incurred a cost
Yes
8.2
6.8
No
91.8
93.2
Whether employee received employer financial support(b)
External training course(c)
Received employer financial support
19.4
19.2
No employer support
10.4
7.8
Internal training course
70.2
73.0

Total training courses
100.0
100.0

'000
'000

Total training courses
7,205.8
8,261.6

(a) In the 12 months prior to the survey, by persons who were wage and salary earners at the time of training.
(b) Relates to main employer during the period.
(c) Training course mainly attended by people not working for the person’s employer or business at the time of training.

Source: ABS 1997 Survey of Education and Training; ABS 2001 Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology.


Training of unemployed persons
Participation in work-related training provides essential work-related skills, not only for employed persons, but also for those who are preparing to enter or re-enter the workforce. Of the 4.8 million people who completed a work-related training course in 2001, almost 400,000 people were not working at the time of training. A greater proportion of those participants aged 20-24 reported that training helped to obtain a job (44%) compared with all other age groups (20%).

Vocational education and training (VET) is a major resource for unemployed persons and those not in the labour force, assisting them to obtain practical work-related skills. In 2001, 14% of all VET courses were undertaken by unemployed persons, and 12% by people not in the labour force.7 During the previous year, 50% of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) graduates, who were unemployed before their course, found work within six months of completing their training.8

The Australian government has implemented various strategies to encourage participation in, and assist in the provision of, work-related training for the unemployed. 'Training credits' assist unemployed people working for the dole by providing funding for employment training.9 Similarly, 'Training accounts' are offered to assist mature age and Indigenous job seekers, to access funding for training. 'Transition to work' programs are also offered to provide financial assistance to the long-term unemployed, to develop skills through training similar to that offered by TAFE institutions.10


Outcomes of training courses
While training involves an investment of both time and money, it also usually results in benefits to both employers and employees. For employees, training often provides the relevant skills and knowledge to remain competitive in today's labour market. In 2001, 89% of training courses were completed by wage and salary earners who considered skills gained from training to be transferable to a similar job with another employer. Overall, 8% of courses were reported to have helped obtain a promotion or pay rise, with younger people (aged 20-34 years), having the highest proportion at 55%.

TRAINING COURSE COMPLETIONS(a): OUTCOMES OF TRAINING - 2001
Skills are transferable
Helped obtain promotion/pay rise
%
%

Age group (years)
15-19
93.5
8.1
20-24
91.0
13.6
25-34
88.2
11.0
35-44
89.4
6.4
45-54
88.0
5.7
55-64
88.7
5.4
Sex
Males
88.6
10.3
Females
89.5
6.5

All persons
89.1
8.4

(a) In the 12 months prior to the survey, by persons who were wage and salary earners at the time of training.

Source: Education and Training Experience, Australia, 2001, (ABS cat. no. 6278.0).


Access to training courses
Although 4.8 million people participated in work-related training courses, others experienced difficulty in gaining access to training courses. In 2001, almost 3 million Australians indicated they were unable to undertake the work-related training courses they desired. Limited access to training was most likely to be due to 'too much work', reported as the main reason by 18% of respondents, or 'no time' (17%).

The main barriers for accessing work-related training courses for men and women differed, with 23% of men claiming to have 'too much work' as the main reason, while 21% of women reported 'personal/family' reasons. Barriers to accessing training also differed across age groups. For example, people aged 20-24 years reported not having enough time (18%) or 'financial reasons' (17%) as the main barriers, while people aged 25-44 years reported 'too much work' (19%) as the main reason for limited access to training courses.

PERSONS EXPERIENCING BARRIERS TO ACCESSING WORK-RELATED TRAINING COURSES - 2001(a)
Males
Females
Persons

Selected main reasons did not complete training courses although wanted to(b)
%
%
%
Too much work
22.7
13.8
18.4
No time
18.4
16.1
17.2
Financial reasons
12.6
15.0
13.7
Personal or family reasons
7.2
20.6
13.7
Lack of employer support
14.0
10.2
12.1
Course-related reasons
11.6
10.8
11.2
Other work-related reasons
5.1
3.6
4.4

Total(c)
100.0
100.0
100.0

'000
'000
'000

Total
1,497.3
1,434.2
2,931.6

(a) Excludes persons currently studying at school.
(b) Includes persons who attended a training course, but wanted to undertake additional training courses.
(c) Includes other reasons.

Source: Education and Training Experience, Australia, 2001 (ABS cat. no. 6278.0).


Endnotes
1 Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) 1998, A bridge to the future: Australia's national strategy for vocational education and training 1998-2003, ANTA, Brisbane.
2 Australian National Training Authority (ANTA), Australian National Training Authority, <www.anta.gov.au/emp.asp>, accessed 13 September 2002.
3 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2003, Year Book Australia, cat. no. 1301.0, ABS, Canberra.
4 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001, Wage and Salary Earners, Australia, cat. no. 6248.0, ABS, Canberra.
5 Hall, R., Bretherton, T., and Buchanan, J. 2000, 'Its not my problem': the growth of non-standard work and its impact on vocational education and training in Australia, National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), South Australia.
6 National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) 2002, Australian VET statistics 2001: At a glance, NCVER, South Australia.
7 National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) 2001, Australian VET statistics 2001: In detail, NCVER, South Australia.
8 National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) 2000, Vetstats: highlights for 2000, NCVER, South Australia.
9 Centrelink, Training credits factsheet, <www.centrelink.gov.au>, accessed 1 September 2002.
10 Centrelink, Transition to work factsheet, <www.centrelink.gov.au>, accessed 1 September 2002.



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