A new review of existing international research reveals work-based education can lead to better employment outcomes for vocational education and training (VET) students and provide productivity gains for employers in the form of job-ready workers.
Other benefits include:
- Students: smoother transitions into ongoing employment and the chance to develop broad occupational skills.
- Employers: productivity gains through ‘work-ready’ recruits, current employees can upskill in the workplace, and new skills are transferred more effectively to work tasks.
- Training providers: a positive reputation, better relationships with employers, more motivated students, and better student outcomes.
Employers can find work-based education programs costly and challenging to resource, leading to fewer opportunities for students. Targeted financial incentives can assist in addressing this and enable a wider range of businesses to participate.
Regular communication is key to overcoming most other challenges associated with work-based education. Training providers, employers and students should work together to ensure all roles and expectations are made clear before a work placement commences.
Best practices to consider:
- For employers: invest in training for workplace mentors, establish clear expectations, create environments conducive to learning, provide appropriately challenging work, investigate how work-based education programs operate in other organisations
- For training providers: define responsibilities, provide support and guidance for students, match students with employers, make workplace expectations clear, prepare students for difficult experiences, encourage employers to offer paid placements
- For policy-makers: create environments more conducive for employers and students to participate in work-based education programs by setting quality standards and incentivising effective work-based education programs.
Work-based education in VET highlights the benefits, challenges and best practices of work-based education in VET programs that involve a student working in a related occupational area to further their learning.
For the purposes of this publication, the term ‘work-based education’ is used to describe structured programs that include learning through work, often resulting in a qualification.
Programs that were undertaken as an apprenticeship or traineeship were not included in the scope of this publication.
Quotes attributable to Simon Walker, Managing Director, NCVER:
Research has shown that communication gaps between employers, training providers and students can have a big impact on the outcomes of work-based education programs, so teamwork is key to ensuring their success.
While work placements can be costly and challenging to coordinate, they can also provide a strong return on investment for employers and governments and better employment outcomes for students, according to past research.
Research investigating the advantages of workplace-based education found that training providers who offer work-based education programs can also benefit from a positive reputation, better relationships with employers, and students who feel more motivated to complete their training.
A review of the evidence suggests that targeted training policies and appropriate financing could create more incentive for employers to provide work-based education, while employers can create value by increasing how relevant their programs are to industry.
DOWNLOAD: Work-based education in VET
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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 policy-makers, 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.