New Study Highlights benefits of Pre-Apprenticeships

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A new study into the effectiveness of pre-apprenticeships shows that they have strong support from employers and training providers, and that they improve the prospects of individuals taking up an apprenticeship and completing it.

The study finds that, contrary to some recent evidence, pre-apprenticeships play an important role in improving labour market outcomes in the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

“The (pre-apprenticeship) program is a valuable mechanism to increase apprentice completion rates as it addresses one of the chief causes of non-completion; that is, the mismatch between the expectations of a new apprentice and the reality of life in the trade,” the study says.

It finds that among a sample of public and private sector organisations involved in the delivery of pre-apprenticeships:

  • There is a high rate of course completion, with a median of 80% and an average of 77%
  • The articulation rate into an apprenticeship was an average 70-80%
  • There is a better chance of completing an apprenticeship among those who have undertaken a pre-apprenticeship
  • There is strong employment demand for students who have undertaken pre-apprenticeships.

The Chief Executive of GTA, Jim Barron, said the study is consistent with the weight of evidence, showing that pre-apprenticeships play a key role in allowing people to gain an insight into the reality of a trades career, and in helping to enhance the apprentice experience.

“Well-targeted and supported pre-apprenticeship programs have long been central to achieving increased commencement, progression and completion rates in apprenticeships. This study provides further evidence of the key role they play in building sustainable apprenticeship and training pathways.”

The study was commissioned by Group Training Australia (GTA), and undertaken by VET academics and researchers, Dr Philip Toner, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney; and Chris Lloyd of consultancy, Wiyanga.

It was undertaken in response to research last year by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) which found the scale of pre-apprenticeships was very large, but that they had minimal effect on apprentice completions.

The Toner and Lloyd study finds that aside from the positive effect on completion rates and articulation to apprenticeships, there are other benefits associated with pre-apprenticeships. These include the effect of ‘filtering’ of participants by assisting them to decide if they are suited to a trade career; and ‘value-adding’, by lifting their grasp of trade theory and practice, and addressing deficiencies in areas such as literacy, numeracy and general employability.

Jim Barron said: “Given the long association with and importance of pre-apprenticeships to group training, the NCVER findings surprised many people, not only across the group training network, but across the VET sector.

“We felt that it was important to test the conclusions of the report, and to ensure that the NCVER work would not be the last word on pre-apprenticeships from a public policy perspective.

“GTA contends that this report places the pre-apprenticeship model back at the centre of VET policy deliberations. There has been much debate about poor completions and the role that mentoring can play in arresting that decline.

“Pre-apprenticeships are critical for both mentoring and recruitment, as this report demonstrates, and this is where investment and policy debate should be centred,” Mr Barron said.

For a copy of the report, A Study Into Pre-Apprenticeship Delivery Models and their Labour Market Outcomes, go to www.grouptraining.com.au/Publications/preapprenticeshipreport

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