December 15, 2016

Retention: we know what it takes

We’re nearing completion on a project for the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) that seeks to improve retention rates of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in employment training programs to improve their employability.

Some of the factors influencing retention include:
how trainers both relate to students and work with employers
the availability and quality of support offered by employers, the community and a student’s family
building a sense of community among students in order to foster an environment of mutual support.
We also found a number of systemic issues that work against retention. Among these is declining public funding, which makes it increasingly difficult for training providers to give students the support they need. Funding models based on enrolments and hours of delivery also encourage providers to focus on trainee numbers rather than outcomes.

Assumptions about training for employment outcomes may also be flawed. Some of the more successful programs we looked at did not have an employment outcome; in other cases, many students were doing training because they were employed (and were therefore already employable).

As with learning, there’s always more to know. If you’re keen to discover more about this project and its findings, please email John Guenther at