Abstract: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have notably embraced vocational education and training (VET) in places classified as very remote by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Participation rates are high and qualification holders are increasing as a result of strong participation (Crawford & Biddle 2017; Windley 2017). Despite this strong participation, the employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates in very remote parts of Australia remain low. It would seem that training is not translating into employability or employment for many (if not most) learners. One reason for this is completion rates of less than 20% for many courses, meaning there is high attrition. Completion rates are particularly low at Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) certificates I and II. In 2015, completion rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in very remote areas across Australia were 10.6% for certificate I courses and 16.6% for all AQF courses. For participants then, the expectations of training may not be realised, and, for training providers and trainers, the inefficiencies created by non-completion mean that too much attention is placed on attending to the needs of administration rather than on the learners. Recognising this problem, a team of researchers representing five different institutions from around Australia set out to uncover how training retention and employability could be improved. Drawing on their experience, they identified five programs in their institutions that are considered successful in achieving above-average retention. By studying these case examples, the factors contributing to successful retention could be identified, as well as the approaches that worked. The team also examined quantitative data, available through the National Centre for Vocational Education Research’s (NCVER) VOCSTATS database, to understand the dynamics of participation, retention and completion in very remote parts of Australia.
Guenther, John, Bat, Melodie, Stephens, Anne, Skewes, Janet, Boughton, Bob, Williamson, Frances, Wooltorton, Sandra, Marshall, Melissa, Dwyer, Anna, 2017, Enhancing training advantage for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners, Report, viewed 06 December 2023, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=18166.