A recent Infographic report from NCVER released in June 2021 takes a look at how members of equity groups participate in the Australian VET system as well as their achievements and outcomes.
Equity groups highlighted include those with a disability, those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or non-English speaking backgrounds, as well as those who are not employed, or from low socio-economic backgrounds or who live in remote areas.
Key groups one by one
First things first, it’s important to recognise that many VET students may well be represented in more than one of the equity groups this report highlights. Past research tells us that this compounds and deepens the effect of being seen as a member of a particular equity group. However, let’s take a look at some of the key individual groups and what the data tell us.
Those with a disability
While around 18% the Australian population have a disability and about 9% are actually in the workforce only 4% are enrolled in VET according to NCVER’s stats (Noting that disability can be underreported). Comparing them with those without a disability, more of those with a disability are undertaking publicly funded VET (54 vs 28%), relatively more study at TAFE Institutes (34 vs 18%) while less are in private providers (54 vs 75%), and more are enrolled in qualifications (67 vs 46%) than those with no disability. There are also details of their preferred fields of study and the relative levels of outcomes and achievements.
Low SES and the unemployed
Those with low SES are well represented in VET and in proportion with numbers in the population. Again, they have a greater tendency to be in government funded programs than those with higher levels of SES (40 vs 31%). They tend to be relatively evenly distributed across provider types on the basis of their socio-economic status too. Their qualification completion rates are lower (37 vs 42%), as are the apparent post-study employment benefits they obtain (51 vs 57%).
Those not employed are heavy users of government funded training when compared with those who are employed (47 vs 25%). Most (67%) are enrolled in qualifications. While significant numbers use private providers (63%), proportionately they make more use of TAFE than the employed (30 vs 16%). Qualification completion rates were slightly lower for this group (39 vs 42%), but very much lower in terms of the level of employment benefit gained when compared with the employed (36 vs 67%).
Those with a non-English speaking background (NESB) or in remote areas
NESB students are under-represented in VET in comparison with the Australian population and workforce. That said, and looking at the stats and comparing those with students who do not have an NESB background, the data show that – broadly – the two groups are very similar in terms of profile and outcomes. If there are differences relatively more NESB are studying in management and commerce or mixed field programs and the improvement in their employment status after training are not as good (where 49 vs 58% saw an improvement).
Likewise, there do not appear to be huge differences in terms of those living in remote or very remote areas and others. If there are any, they are that those in remote areas are slightly more likely to be enrolled in Government funded training (36 vs 31%). While qualification completion rates were lower for this group (32 vs 42%) a higher proportion had improved outcomes post training (64 vs 56%) compared with those not from remote areas.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (ATSI)
VET has 4% of its students with an ATSI background, which is above those in the population or in the workforce (3 and 2% respectively). Again, relatively more are in Government funded training (54 vs 31%) and at TAFE (32 vs 19%), although 59% are at private providers (while 75% of those who are non-Indigenous are studying at private providers). More are enrolled in qualifications than those who are not ATSI (66 vs 48%).
An afterthought and if you want more…
Comprehensive data tables are available here. However, my afterthought is that another way to look at these data is on an ‘issues basis’ rather than according to the equity group they belong to. Maybe another article is in the offing, or is this a job for VDC News readers?