Apprentice completion rates higher under group training

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has recently released a report that looks at apprenticeship completion rates for apprentices and trainees employed through group training compared to those directly employed by a business.

Completion rates have been an issue for years, steadily declining since 2012. The current completion rate for apprentices is 54.5 per cent and for trainees is 57.7 per cent.

When looking at the raw data, there is not much difference in the completion rate between those employed directly and those employed by a group training organisation, so this latest research goes beyond the raw data and looks at the nature of the apprentices and trainees employed through group training.

The research, which can be downloaded here, finds that group training organisations are more likely to employ apprentices under 20 years of age; are more likely to employ newly commencing workers rather than those with a previous work history; are more likely to employ indigenous workers; and will generally place apprentices or trainees with small to medium enterprises (SMEs). All of these factors are known to negatively affected completion rates.

Using these findings about group training apprentices and trainees, the researchers then considered the completion rates for those in the same cohorts who are employed directly. It allows them to compare apples with apples, not oranges.

And the results are a clear endorsement of group training. For non-trade (traineeship) occupations, group training has a better completion rate than for those employed directly by both SME and large employers. For trade (apprenticeship) occupations, large employers have the highest rate of apprentice completions, but completions for group training are substantially higher than for those directly employed by SMEs.

Those group training organisations interviewed for the research put their better completion rates down to good matching between apprentices/trainees and host employers, stable pastoral care arrangements with apprentices and trainees, and access to industry experts, among other things.

Most people who work in the training sector already knew intuitively that group training has better outcomes than SMEs, who often don’t have a HR function, but it’s reassuring to see intuition borne out by facts.

What are your experiences with group training? Please leave a comment below to have your say and start a conversation.

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Peter Canavan is a senior policy officer at Ai Group, contributing to education and training policy and managing projects including the Industry 4.0 Higher Apprenticeship project. He has previously managed national projects relating to apprenticeships. Peter has over 25 years experience in the vocational training sector, and has also managed projects for the Victorian Government, including apprenticeship projects and projects supporting workers retrenched from the automotive manufacturing sector.

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