Individuals and businesses accessing stand-alone subjects, or bundles of subjects that do not form a nationally recognised course, make up the single largest segment of enrolments in vocational education and training (VET) in Australia.
New analysis of short-course training in VET, often referred to as micro-credentials, reveals for the first time the size, extent, and characteristics of this form of training, according to a new report released today by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).
An analysis of 'micro-credentials' in VET shows that in 2019, 2.6 million students were enrolled in subjects that do not form part of a nationally recognised course, which the report refers to as ‘subject bundles’, out of a total of 4.2 million students who were enrolled in all VET.
Enrolments in subject bundles dwarf other recognised forms of short-course training; in 2019, 76 565 students were enrolled in training package skill sets and 93 555 were enrolled in accredited short courses.
In terms of characteristics, subject bundles typically comprise three or fewer subjects. Enrolments are also concentrated in a relatively small number of bundles with 601 of around 50 000 bundles accounting for 90% of student activity. Further, they are undertaken with a relatively small number of registered training organisations (RTOs), with 456 RTOs reporting 90% of student activity in these subject bundles.
The analysis clearly indicates that subject bundles are mainly concerned with regulation and skill maintenance, either explicitly or implicitly. This activity can be grouped under the broad headings of workplace safety, emergency preparedness and authority to operate. This segment is a largely ‘private’ market, with more than 93% of subject bundles funded on a fee-for-service basis.
The analysis also found noticeable differences between the states and territories in subject bundles. These can be largely attributed to differences in the economic structure of the jurisdiction, regulatory requirements, and funding regimes.
In Australia’s VET sector, training package skill sets and accredited courses are recognised forms of short-course training. However, a significant amount of other ‘short-course’ training occurs. This training is officially known as enrolments in subjects not part of a nationally recognised program.
The analysis in this report focuses on this training and is based on matching subject enrolments to students at single registered training organisations (RTOs) using Total VET Activity data (government-funded and fee-for-service data).
Quotes attributable to Simon Walker, Managing Director, NCVER
Short-course training is seen as an increasingly important form of training, particularly as governments respond to the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the VET sector, training package skill sets and accredited courses are recognised forms of short-course training. The research however reveals that there is a surprising amount of other non-nationally recognised short form training being undertaken.
The fact that the employer or the student is prepared to pay for this training is in many cases due to a regulatory requirement, but it also implies that the training is seen as having value as a micro-credential in the marketplace.
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About NCVER: we are the main provider of research, statistics and data on Australia’s VET sector. Our services help promote better understanding of VET and assist policymakers, practitioners, industry, training providers, and students to make informed decisions. This work has been produced by NCVER on behalf of the Australian Government and state and territory governments, with funding provided through the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.