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The cost of training Australia's workers
Work-related training courses are those that have a structured format, with an orderly or methodical means of presenting or providing the training during a set period of time. Work-related training refers to activities that are undertaken primarily to obtain, maintain, or improve employment-related skills or competencies. footnote 1
The employer perspective
Training expenditure by employers
Gross direct training expenditure comprises the wages and salaries of persons employed as dedicated trainers, any fees paid to external training providers and other costs associated with the provision of structured training, such as the costs of training facilities and equipment, and travel, accommodation and meals for employees attending training. During 2001-02 gross direct expenditure on structured training by Australian employers totalled $4,018m, with the wages and salaries of dedicated trainers contributing $1,037m (or 26%) of this figure. The costs of providing training are offset to some extent by the receipt of subsidies and grants to be utilised for training purposes, and by payments received from external attendees of internal training courses. These receipts totalled $366m in 2001-02, resulting in net direct expenditure on structured training of $3,653m.
Net direct expenditure by employers on structured training to their employees in the same period was an average of $458 per employee. This level of expenditure varied between industries. Mining had the highest average expenditure on structured training ($1,643 per employee), while Retail trade had the lowest ($127 per employee) (graph 10.17).
Indirect expenditure on training
Employers also bear the indirect wage and salary cost for the time during which their employees receive training. The 2001-02 TEPS did not collect data on the indirect cost of employee participation in training, but comparable estimates are available as unpublished data from the 2001 SETIT. In the 12 months prior to the survey, employees spent almost 122.9 million hours in training courses, at a total wage and salary cost to employers of approximately $2,634.1m.
Employer support for training
Employers may contribute directly to the cost of structured training in a variety of ways including: paying employees' wages and salaries while they attend training, paying employees' training fees, paying for employees' training materials and paying for employees' travel/accommodation expenses associated with training.
The 2001-02 TEPS collected information from employers about the different ways they provided support for their employees' structured training. Over 89% of all employers that provided structured training, paid for their employees' wages and salaries while they attended training. More than three-quarters of employers (77%) paid their employees' training fees, and half paid for employees' training materials. Larger employers more frequently provided support for structured training than did smaller employers. For example, 97% of employers with 100 or more employees paid for employees' wages and salaries while attending training, compared to 34% of employers with less than 20 employees.
The worker perspective
Results from the 2001 SETIT show that 37% (4,781,000 people) of the Australian population aged 15-64 years had completed at least one work-related training course in the 12 months prior to the survey. Some 7% of the population had completed four or more training courses over this period.
In the SETIT, wage or salary earners are people who worked for an employer for wages or salary in their main job during the reference week. In all, 8,261,600 work-related training courses (84% of all work-related training courses) were completed by wage or salary earners in Australia in 2001. For 89% of training courses completed by wage or salary earners, participants considered the skills gained from the training course to be transferable, that is, they could be used in a similar job with another employer.
Support for training courses and study
Almost three-quarters of work-related training courses were undertaken internally. Of the 27% of courses that were completed externally, 74% were completed with financial support. Public sector wage or salary earners were more likely to have received financial support to attend external training courses (78%) compared to the private sector (73%). Public sector wage or salary earners were also more likely to have completed internal training courses than private sector wage or salary earners (80% and 69% respectively) (table 10.18).
Full-time wage or salary earners completed 6,125,800 training courses in 2001, some 74% of all training courses completed. Of the courses completed by wage or salary earners, the majority (72%) were undertaken internally. By comparison, 76% of courses completed by part-time wage or salary workers were undertaken internally (table 10.19).
The average duration of work-related training courses completed by wage and salary earners was 17 hours in 2001 (table 10.21). For courses undertaken by wage and salary earners in the public sector, the average number of training hours per course was 19 hours, compared to an average length of 16 hours for courses undertaken by wage and salary earners in the private sector.
Access to training
The TEPS gives an insight into the reasons why Australian employers have undertaken to provide training for their employees. Employers were able to nominate more than one reason for providing training. Of employers who provided structured training to employees in the financial year ended June 2002, 55% reported maintaining professional status and/or meeting industry standards as the main reason for providing structured training. Staff development/advancement and improving the quality of goods/services provided were also important reasons (54% and 53% of employers, respectively).
The reasons for employers providing training varied between industries. The Electricity, gas and water supply industry most frequently reported legislative, regulatory, or licensing requirements as a reason for providing structured training (77%), whereas this reason was least reported by the Wholesale trade industry (20%). Employers in the Government administration and defence industry most frequently cited staff development/advancement as a reason for providing structured training (89%), compared with 36% of employers in the Construction industry (table 10.22).
Barriers to training
The 2001 SETIT further reveals that there were 2,931,600 people aged 15-64 years, who no longer attended school but wanted to undertake a work-related training course or courses in the previous 12 months. Of these people the main reason they did not undertake training was 'Too much work' (18%). Other main reasons were 'No time' (17%), 'Financial reasons' (14%), and 'Lack of employer support' (12%).
Males were more likely than females to list 'Too much work' as the main reason for not undertaking further work-related training courses (23% compared to 14%). Females were more likely than males to cite 'Caring for family members' as the main reason for not undertaking such training courses (12% compared to 1%).
Respondents in the 2001 SETIT who indicated that they wished to complete more training were also able to list all of the reasons that they did not undertake more training courses in the previous 12 months as well as the main reason. Again, the most common responses were 'Too much work' (17%), 'No time' (17%), 'Financial reasons' (14%) and 'Lack of employer support' (10%).
1 For a detailed description of training and training courses in the SETIT, see the Glossary in Education and Training Experience, Australia, 2001, cat. no. 6278.0.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics), Australian Economic Indicators, May 1995, cat. no. 1350.0, ABS, Canberra.
ABS, Education and Training Experience, Australia, 2001, cat. no. 6278.0, ABS, Canberra.
ABS, Employer Training Expenditure and Practices, Australia, 2001-02, cat. no. 6362.0, ABS, Canberra.
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