Participation rates have fallen markedly between 2013 and 2017
A few days before Christmas the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released Work-Related Training and Adult Learning, Australia, 2016-17, based on analysis of survey data collected between July 2016 and July 2017. Despite the timing, the findings don’t add up to a Christmas present if you deliver non-accredited training.
While 40.9 per cent of Australians aged 15-74 had participated in formal and/or non-formal learning in 2016-17, the real news is in comparisons with earlier surveys. Participation has fallen from 48.9 per cent in 2005, and fallen steeply since 2013 when the rate was 46.4 per cent.
Declines in work-related training
Work-related training has not been immune from declining participation rates. About 3.8 million working age Australians took a turn in work-related training in the 12 months prior to the survey, and that sounds like a big number. But it really represents a big fall. That figure of 3.8 million in 2017 equates to 22 per cent of the working age population, down from 27 per cent just four years earlier in 2013.
For the record, the ABS defines work-related training as structured learning activities like training courses, seminars and conferences that don’t lead to formal qualifications. Those surveyed include people who are employed, not employed and business owners.
Variations in the market for work-related training
If non-accredited training is what you do then it helps to know where to target your effort. The ABS analysis can help:
‘People with a non-school qualification were more than twice-as-likely to participate in work-related training than those without a non-school qualification in 2016-17 (28 per cent compared with 12 per cent). However, participation has decreased for both these groups since 2013, from 35 per cent for those with a non-school qualification and 16 per cent for those without a non-school qualification.’
Women were more likely to participate if they were professionals – 45.9 per cent of women professionals did work-related training compared to 36.6 per cent of male professionals.
Of 18 specific industry sectors the ABS reports on, not one showed an increase in the participation rate between 2013 and 2017.
Remarkably, the education and training sector fell too – from 53.8 per cent in 2013 to 46.6 per cent in 2017.
Why the decline?
While cost was an obstacle for one in four people, the other usual suspects – like concerns about quality, relevance, and accessibility – aren’t the main impediments. Despite one in ten Australians wanting to participate in more work-related training, the ABS reports the main barriers were ‘too much work or too little time.’