A newly released paper from NCVER authored by Kristen Osborne summarises the trends in workplace-based delivery of subjects for VET students.

It also seeks to identify the factors that affect outcomes, and “attempts to quantify the positive effects of workplace-based delivery.”

How prevalent is workplace delivery?

The paper used administrative data from the National VET Provider Collection and analytic modelling to examine how different factors might predict this type of delivery. Three forms of delivery were considered: (1) those that were solely workplace-based, (2) those that were workplace-based alongside other modes, and (3) those that were not workplace-based at all.

Kristen’s paper found that:

“In 2019, over 20% of all subjects were delivered with some degree of workplace-based training, representing more than 5.5 million individual subjects. Of these, just over 74% (or around 4.1 million) were not part of an apprenticeship or traineeship.”

It drops to 17% overall if you take out apprenticeships and traineeships. In big number terms, this means of the 26.6 million subject enrolments overall about 5.5 million had a workplace component.


“Around 800 000 students experienced workplace-based delivery as part of their VET journey in 2019, outside an apprenticeship or traineeship.”

It also found that “many programs use workplace-based delivery for all of their subjects” and the extent of its use can depend on jurisdiction, enrolment status (full vs part-time) and field of study. In summary, a reasonable amount of it goes on!

Workplace-based delivery is big in fields such as radiography and pharmacy and quite big in philosophy and religious studies, medical studies, forestry studies and justice and law enforcement. However, the paper notes that:

“On the other hand, biological sciences, accountancy and behavioural science were all associated with a reduction in the likelihood of workplace-based delivery of four times or more, again compared with the benchmark field [business and management].”

One of the complicating factors in doing this analysis is that modes of delivery and/or assessment are routinely mandated by program rules. This means it is hard to assess the value of workplace delivery against other modes because the Training Package says you have just got to do things this way!

What students say

While the amount of workplace delivery is not a big topic amongst students completing NCVER’s student outcomes survey Kristen found that:

“Of approximately 55 800 valid comments, 1418 comments contained one or more of the selected keywords. Many of these (614) suggested either introducing some work-based learning or increasing the volume of work-based learning hours. Very few (19) suggested that the number of work placement hours should be reduced.”

In simple terms, if they comment, they want more not less!