Asking different questions of national VET data: Identifying a new factor contributing to apprenticeship non-completions

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper presented at Conference (not in Proceedings)


    In many advanced market democracies apprenticeship non-completion rates have remained unacceptably high for several decades. In spite of broad agreement over the factors that contribute to the problem, interventions based on these obstacles have made little sustained difference. This paper first describes the manner in which the issues of non-completion are represented in six different nations. While there are some national differences, each of the solutions to low completion rates is derived from a myopic analysis of the training system. Virtually all of the responses designed to decrease non-completion are derived from studies that examine relatively easily measured characteristics of the learners, features of the employment workplace or the activities of training providers. Having established the inwardly focused nature of the representation of non-completion and the associated solutions, a novel cross-disciplinary approach to the issue is described. Informed by human geography, heat physiology and vocational education and training policy perspectives, new questions were asked of the very large Australian National Apprentice and Trainee Collection. These queries were designed to test for patterns of seasonality for every commencement, cancellation and withdrawal in all occupations where a contract of training came into force for the past two decades. A quite significant difference in the timing of cancellations and withdrawals in the trade occupations in northern Australia was detected when compared to the south of the continent. The identification of a potential new contributor to apprenticeship non-completion from outside of the training system suggests the possibility of other external, yet to be identified factors that contribute to high attrition rates that are immune to existing policy responses. For example, the answers to problems of the well-enumerated heavy gender segregation and outcomes for ethnic minorities undertaking apprenticeships may be better derived from more complex cross-disciplinary studies. All of this invites yet another question: have the limits of policy adjustments, universally known as reforms, to the vocational education and training sector reached the limits of their capacity to make an impact on reducing apprenticeship non-completion?
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    EventResearching vocational education and training: 12th international conference - Worcester College, England, United Kingdom
    Duration: 7 Jul 20179 Jul 2017


    ConferenceResearching vocational education and training
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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