Effective partnerships between employers and RTOs benefits both parties.
Interactions between employers and RTOs have changed markedly since the start of this century. A report released in March by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) charts the changes, and offers trainers and RTO managers excellent insights into the expectations employers hold today about the provision of both accredited and non-accredited training. Developing and sustaining successful partnerships between employers and training providers (53 pages, plus references and appendices) finishes with this call for professional development:
‘Overall, employers are happy with the RTOs with whom they transact training business, but many had some reservations or discussed partnerships that had failed. These matters indicate a need for more consistent development of all RTO staff — particularly in TAFE — in working with industry.’
It’s valuable to explore the 50 or so preceding pages to understand the causes of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, and to grasp the significance of partnering as a suite of skills that RTOs must nurture.
Employers were asked to nominate the importance of various items in influencing investment in training. The report lists the top five drivers, in order of frequency, as:
- Improvement in the quality of goods and services.
- New technology.
- Business strategy.
- Licensing requirements.
- Workplace health and safety requirements.
Satisfaction with providers
Employers who used external RTOs to provide training were asked how satisfied they were with the training they purchased. The report gives the following satisfaction rankings:
- employer industry and professional associations – 83.6%
- universities – 82.0%
- equipment and product suppliers – 79.2%
- private training providers – 80.0%
- TAFE – 66.1%.
However, there’s a significant nuance to these overall figures:
‘Micro employers were more likely to be satisfied with TAFE (86.0%) and large employers were more likely to be satisfied with private training providers (87.1%).’
A valuable finding from the research relates to causes of dissatisfaction with the provider with whom an employer did most of their training business. Employers were more likely to nominate two factors:
- the RTO’s openness to experimentation, and
- The RTO’s willingness to make changes to the nature of the off-the-job training.
Especially helpful is the report’s analysis of effective partnerships between employers and RTOs. Partnering is sophisticated practice, and can be time intensive when a partnership is particularly active. Different skills and practice are required at different partnering stages – qualifying or selecting a partner, then initiating, maintaining and extending the partnership. It’s this fine-tuning of partnering practice that needs attention through professional development.
The research team identifies eight factors that typify successful employer-RTO partnerships. They are described in a guide which accompanies the report – Developing and sustaining successful partnerships between employers and training providers: Good practice guide (8 pages).