Understanding what employers want and need from trainers and RTOs

There are rewards and challenges in delivering training to existing workers. Trainers who bring high quality, customised training to workplaces get a personal and professional lift from contributing to employees’ confidence and capabilities, and to an employer’s continued viability. RTOs get other dividends too, like return business and third party endorsements.

Any trainer or provider delivering training to existing workers can also list many challenges, not least understanding what an employer wants and needs from trainers and RTOs. Experience is a great aid. It offers one clear learning: training providers must be adaptable and flexible because no two employers, even in the same industry, want exactly the same thing. Training is as much about service as it is about training products.

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research commissioned a research project to pin down key variables influencing employers to seek training for their workforces, and affecting an employer’s assessment of the training provided. Published in August, the project report – Employers’ perspectives on training (30 pages) – offers succinct insights into employer training practices and experiences in red meat processing, road freight transport and freight forwarding industries.

Factors influencing employers’ training decisions

The researcher, Chandra Shah, cites five factors influencing employers’ training decisions:

  • need to comply with industry regulations, particularly those relating to hygiene, and health and safety
  • quality and source of entry-level labour supply, which is affected by working conditions and turnover in the industry
  • availability of a public subsidy for training, which may affect whether firms support full qualifications
  • quality and flexibility of training providers
  • availability of reliable information on the training market.

Access to reliable, objective information about training comes into view several times in Shah’s short report. The report’s concluding section notes:

‘Small firms could benefit from access to reliable and objective information about the training market. Currently they have to navigate often-aggressive marketing to get to this information.’

Subsidies or no subsidies, training is essential to business success

The concluding section also notes that training subsidies aren’t a make or break influence on employer decision making. Shah suggests that

‘… a firm’s decision to provide training is generally independent of receipt of a subsidy. In the absence of a subsidy, some firms may choose to ration training support for qualifications to fewer employees or offer support only for those skills sets necessary to meet regulatory requirements.’