This report provides estimates of the size and nature of the Australian vocational education and training workforce. Data was collected through the 2019 National VET Workforce survey from registered training organisations (RTOs). The report presents estimates of the number of individuals working in RTOs with a particular focus on trainers and assessors. Information was also collected about volunteers who play an important role in some RTOs.
About the research
A comprehensive picture of the overall vocational education and training (VET) market combined with
an updated profile of the VET workforce is essential to informing policy development and workforce planning to ensure the sector has the capacity to meet the skill development needs of industry in a rapidly changing economy.
Currently, there is no consistent, regular collection of data on the VET workforce. The last study was released by the Productivity Commission in 2011 but the estimates had poor reliability for providers beyond TAFE. Since then, the National VET Provider Collection has expanded to cover total VET activity (TVA), giving us a better understanding of privately funded VET than was available in 2011.
This report presents estimates of the size and nature of the Australian VET workforce as at February 2019. Using data collected between March and May 2019 through the 2019 National VET Workforce Survey, the report provides an estimate of the number of individuals working in registered training organisations (RTOs), with a particular focus on the qualifications held by trainers and assessors. Information is also presented for volunteers, who play an important role in some RTOs.
The survey collected information from all RTOs with students in 2017 that were registered on the National Register of VET (training.gov.au) at 31 January 2019. Trainers and assessors who delivered nationally recognised VET under third party partnering arrangements in providers that were not RTOs, which is undertaken in some schools and businesses, were not included in the survey. This means that the survey estimates are likely to be an under-estimate of the total national trainer and assessor workforce.
This report presents estimates of the size and nature of the Australian vocational education and training (VET) workforce as at February 2019, with data collected between March and May 2019 through the 2019 National VET Workforce Survey, from registered training organisations (RTOs) on the National Register of VET at 31 January 2019. The survey did not include trainers and assessors employed at non-RTOs that had third party partnership arrangements with RTOs, such as some schools and businesses. This means that the estimates from the survey are likely to be an under-estimate of the total trainer and assessor workforce to which the Standards for RTOs 2015 apply.
The survey provides headcount estimates of the number of individuals working in RTOs, with a particular focus on the qualifications held by trainers and assessors. Information was also collected about volunteers, who play an important role in some RTOs.
Currently, there is no consistent, regular collection of data on the VET workforce. This is a significant information gap which limits the extent to which data can be used for workforce planning and policy development. Where past VET workforce information has been collected, it has generally been acknowledged that it was incomplete and reliable estimates were often limited to TAFE, making it difficult to understand the size and characteristics of workers in the VET sector.
Key findings of the Survey (based on headcount) show that in February 2019:
- 246 167 people were employed in the VET workforce
- There were 45 628 employees at TAFE and 200 539 employees at other RTOs.
- 71 379 people in the overall VET workforce were employed as trainers and assessors (29% of the VET workforce), including those delivering training under the supervision of a trainer.
- The proportion of the workforce employed as trainers and assessors was higher for larger RTOs than it was for smaller RTOs. For large (1 000 to 9 999 students) and very large (more than 10 000 students) RTOs it was 40.3% and 59.0% respectively, while for medium (100-999 students) and small RTOs (less than 100 students) it was 21.9% and 19.9% respectively.
- Of people employed as trainers and assessors:
- 52.6% were employed full-time and 47.4% part-time
- 53.5% were employed on a permanent basis, 13.9% on a contract or in temporary positions, and 32.6% on a casual or sessional basis.
- 93.3% had a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment or higher-level qualification
- 89.4% had a Certificate III or above as their highest qualification related to their industry or field of training delivery
- 19.7% of RTOs had volunteers, and 6.1% of RTOs had volunteer trainers and assessors.
- There were 177 596 volunteers of which 6 841 were directly involved in the delivery of training and/or assessment of VET.
These findings show that non-permanent employment in the VET sector is high with particularly high use of casuals for trainer and assessor roles, consistent with earlier 2011 findings. This casualisation of trainer/assessor employment may restrict opportunities to develop teaching and assessment ability with potential impacts on the quality of training delivery. This suggests there may be a need to identify appropriate ways of enabling adequate professional development for casual and other non-permanent employees.
An RTO’s training and assessment may only be delivered by persons who have the training and assessment credential specified in the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 (ASQA), or else be under supervision. Overall, these findings indicate the majority of VET trainers and assessors hold a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, but the relatively small number of completions (10 265) in the current version of the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE40116) suggest that most (80%) would likely hold the superseded TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.
On this basis, it appears that gap training in the additional units and skill sets required by those with the superseded qualification is the predominant approach to ensuring the minimum trainer and assessor standards are being met. Ensuring that the teaching skills of VET trainers and assessors are meeting the required credentials is therefore an area for ongoing consideration.
The findings also indicate that the teaching qualifications for volunteer trainers and assessors are lower than for employees. This further highlights the need to ensure the maintenance of trainer and assessor standards and the provision of development opportunities for maintaining teaching quality.
 Australian Productivity Commission, 2011 pp 37 and 386.
 Australian Productivity Commission, 2011 p37.
 Australian Productivity Commission, 2011 p37.
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