A recent paper released by NCVER explores why employers use unaccredited training. It also looks at why they choose unaccredited training over accredited training, and whether this training meets their needs.

So, what is unaccredited training?

A report published by NCVER late last year and authored by Ian White, Navinda De Silva and Toni Rittie looks at “the key drivers of employer investment in workforce training”.  As we know, employers use a variety of training approaches, including accredited, unaccredited and informal. Unaccredited training often takes the form of “structured training or instruction that does not lead to the attainment of a formal qualification or award, for example, short courses, product-specific training and industry- or organisation-specific training.” Informal training is unstructured and occurs ‘on the job’.

According to NCVER’s latest Employers Use and Views Survey, over 90% of Australian employers provided some form of training to their employees: 54% engaged with the VET system; 51% used unaccredited training; and 81% said they provided informal training. However, as the authors point out:

“As unaccredited training sits outside the mandatory reporting requirements of the nationally recognised accredited training system, administrative data relating to its use are not systematically collected in the National VET Provider Collection, therefore the true extent of its uptake in Australia is largely unknown.”

Unaccredited training is becoming more important as one of the outcomes of the Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework may be to recognise this form of training more formally and readily.

What do employers think of unaccredited training?

The biggest users of unaccredited training are large companies, with about 84% using it. Medium sized companies, employing between 10 and 99 staff are also relatively big users at 69%, while, comparatively, small businesses use it much less (around 43%).

The study found that “most employers using unaccredited training are satisfied that it provides the required skills for their workers.”  It is also the form of training with which they are most satisfied. In fact, when responding to the requirements of new technology, more employers prefer unaccredited over nationally recognised training because it is seen as cost-effective, tailored to their needs, and held at convenient or flexible times. There has also been an increasing trend for employers to use unaccredited training to meet highly specific training needs. And, as has been often reported: “The complexity of the Australian VET system is frequently cited as a barrier to employers choosing accredited training.”

Who does the training?

White and his colleagues report that:

“Around half of the employers using unaccredited training did not use an external provider, but, for those who did, private training providers and professional/industry associations were the main providers chosen, largely because of their high level of industry knowledge and the suitability of the course content for their employees.”

Indeed, the overall satisfaction with unaccredited training is above 94% for all external training providers used.

“The most common provider of in-house unaccredited training was an in-house trainer/teacher, with 33% of employers using this provider of training, followed by vendors (11%), and conferences, seminars or workshops (8%). External unaccredited training was provided mainly by conferences, seminars or workshops (14% of employers) and vendors (6%).”

By comparison, accredited training was largely delivered externally by TAFE (technical and further education) institutes (35% of employers) and private training providers (35%).

Which industries make most use of unaccredited training?

Comparatively, those industries making most use of unaccredited training include financial and insurance services; rental, hiring and real estate services; public administration and safety and education and training. Some of these are also large users of the VET system. Almost all industries are big users of informal learning.

In summary

Employers use both accredited and unaccredited training to provide the skills needed for the job and to maintain professional/or industry standards. Unaccredited training is more likely to be used to address job relevant or organisation specific training needs and in response to new technology. Accredited training is preferred where legislative or regulatory requirements have to be met, or for staff career development.

Significant amounts of unaccredited training are provided by in-house trainers. The authors suspect that there is a possibility for external providers to increase their footprint in this market, but only if they are offer training that is highly attuned to client needs and industry current.