The Office of Post Compulsory Education, Training and Employment commissioned NCS Australasia to conduct a telephone survey to ascertain the views of apprentices, trainees and their employers on the quality of
training they are receiving to inform the current review of the quality of training in Victoria’s apprenticeship and traineeship system. The survey was intended
The data will assist the Review in its investigation of whether or not the Victorian system ensures the quality of training for apprentices and trainees, and how the system needs to change to ensure it can meet the challenges it will face over the next five years or more.
This report presents the highlights from the survey.
A population listing of employers and participants in Victoria's apprenticeship and trainee system was provided by the Office of Post Compulsory
Education, Training and Employment. These included participant/company information together with contact and other details.
The Office pre-specified the stratification variables to be distinguished for constructing the study sample. These were 'trainee' and 'apprentice' for the participants, and 'small' and 'large' for the employers. That is, the participant listing was stratified according to whether the participant was a trainee or an apprentice, while the employers list was stratified on the 'number of
employees' field given for each record. The latter was determined on the basis of the under 20 employees being 'small' and 20 or more employees being 'large'. Random sampling was then undertaken separately within each strata group to obtain the final sample to be interviewed.
Allocation to a strata group was checked at the interview stage, and
respondents who had been classified incorrectly were reclassified based on the information provided at that time.
To allow for non-responses such as non-contacts, refusals and incorrect contact information, more sample was drawn than required. The final structure of the sample is contained in the following table.
Strata: Large Small Apprentices Trainees
In list supplied 37452 28083 34,107 44,079
In sample drawn 4,505 9,894 7,745 4,252
Expected 380 380 380 380
Expected per category 760 760
Total Expected 1,520
The expected number of interviews in each strata group was 380. This number of interviews would provide for a level of accuracy of +/- 5% with a 95% level of confidence for results obtained for each strata. In other words, we would expect that the true population parameter being estimated would fall in the range bounded by +/- 5% on the observed value, 95 times out of 100. For example, if 50% of the sample responded "yes" to a question, then the figure for the true population would be expected to fall between 45% and 55% ninety-five times out of one hundred. It should be noted that as the
observed value gets further from 50% (ie. closer to 0% or 100%) the smaller the error margin becomes.
Copies of the separate questionnaires completed by employers and trainees are appended. The two questionnaires are similar allowing comparison of employer and apprentice/trainee opinions.
There were 760 employer, 385 apprentice and 375 trainee respondents to the survey, providing a sample of views and judgements about aspects of the operations of the apprenticeship and traineeship system.
The sample represented in equal proportion, large and small employers. 55%
of the employer respondents employed approximately 2,500 apprentices overall, whilst about 60% employed approximately 4,400 trainees. Some employed both apprentices and trainees.
Half of the employers were relatively small with less than 20 employees and a further third employed between 20 and 100.
Table 1: Employer respondents by number of employees
Respondents No. of employees
1-19 380 50
20-100 249 33
Over 100 128 17
Don’t know 3 0
Total 760 100
About two-thirds [68%] of employer respondents were located in the metropolitan area. However they employed proportionately less of the apprentices and trainees [53%]. This difference is muted by the fact that some employer respondents classified as metropolitan, also employed apprentices and trainees in regional Victoria.
The largest group of employer respondents were in the Retail Trade (18%), followed by Recreation, Personal and Other Services (14%) and Metals and Metal Products Manufacturing (9%).
Table 2: Main industry of employers
Employer (N = 760)
Retail trade 18
Recreation, personal and other services 14
Manufacturing - metals & metal products 9
Manufacturing – food, beverages, tobacco products 7
Community services 7
Transport and storage 6
Finance, property and business services 6
Manufacturing – wood products & furniture 5
Wholesale trade 3
Electricity, gas and water 3
Agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting 3
Manufacturing – paper or paper products 1
Manufacturing – chemical, plastic, coal, petroleum, glass, clay, cement or other non-metallic mineral products
1 Manufacturing – textiles, clothing & footwear 1
Public administration & defence 1
Non-classifiable economic units 4
Don’t know 0
Apprentices and Trainees: Courses
Apprentices were mainly involved in automotive [18%], engineering [14%], building and construction [10%] and electrical [10%] courses. Trainees were mainly involved in courses in retail [24%], business [20%], community and health [11%] and hospitality [11%].
Apprentices were more likely to be involved with a TAFE institution as their main provider than were trainees whose training was more spread between TAFE, a Group Training Company [GTC] or in-house provision. Over half [54%] of trainees were being trained fully on the job, whilst 81% of
apprentices received their training on and off the job. The workplace of 56%
of apprentices and 75% of trainees were located in the metropolitan area.
20% of the trainees [2.6% of apprentices] had been employed by their current employer prior to their apprenticeship/traineeship commencing, for more than three months full time or six months part-time.
Age, and Year of Study
Apprentices at an average age of 20 were significantly younger than trainees [28 years]. About one third of the apprentices were in each of their first and second year and a further quarter in year three. 93% of the trainees were in their first year.
Provider and Location of Training
Employer respondents were asked what type of training provider they mainly used for apprentices and trainees. Not surprisingly there were significant differences.
Table 3: Main type of provider used by employer respondents
% Employers of Main Training Provider Appren-
TAFE 78 34
Group Training Company 10 31
In-house 8 26
Other 4 8
None - 1
Don’t know 0 0
Total 100 100
The survey sought information on the extent to which training was conducted on the job only or on and off the job. In only 17% of employers was apprentice training fully on the job, whereas training for trainees was fully on the job in 46% of employers.
Table 4: Location of training
% Employers of Where Training Conducted
Appren- tices [N=417]
Fully on the job 17 46
On and off the job 82 52
Other 1 1
Don’t know 0 0
Total 100 100
RESPONDENT EXPERIENCE AND OPINIONS Information
Respondents were asked a series of questions concerning their experience with the administration of the apprentices and trainee system and their opinions about its effectiveness in meeting their expectations or objectives.
In the first instance advice was sought on whether respondents had received enough information about the system prior to deciding whether to participate.
The responses will likely exhibit a bias towards those believing enough
information was provided since they had all decided to participate. The survey provides no insight into those who decided not to participate because of a lack of information.
Across a range of issues, relating to employment conditions, choosing a course or provider, or what would be involved or required, 80–85% of
employers stated that they had enough information, leaving 13-18% with not enough [choosing a provider 18%, employment conditions 17%, what would be required 16%]. Slightly fewer small employers received enough
information than larger ones. More significantly, a higher proportion of the employers of apprentices received enough information than those of trainees, particularly in relation to employment conditions and choosing a provider.
Table 4: Information provided to Employers
% Enough Information Provided
Yes No D.K.
The conditions attached to employing an apprentice or trainee
81 17 2
Choosing an appropriate course 85 13 1
Choosing a training provider 80 18 2
What would be required from you during the apprenticeship or traineeship
83 16 1
D.K.= Don’t know
Apprentices and trainees tended to be less satisfied than employers although a majority were satisfied overall. A third of them believed that they did not receive enough information about providers to assist in a choice. Over 20%
also did not receive enough information on each of the other issues.
Table 5: Information provided to apprentices/trainees
% Enough Information Provided
Yes No N.A.
The conditions of your employment as an apprentice/trainee
74 24 1
Choosing an appropriate course 66 21 12
Choosing a training provider 53 32 15
What would be involved in your on and off-job training 77 22 1
There were some differences in the responses of apprentices and trainees on two of the issues. Fewer trainees than apprentices believed that they received enough information about choosing a course and provider.
Respondents were also asked to identify areas where they required information but didn’t receive it. A wide range of issues were identified by employers where required information was not received including:
incentives/rebates/grants [6% of employers], guidelines [6%], contractual requirements [6%] and course content [5%]. 15% of apprentices/trainees stated that they needed more specific/in-depth information on the structure of apprenticeships/traineeships. Other issues raised by them included topics covered in courses, course structure [6%] and wages [5%].
Appropriateness of Enrolment
The survey sought information on whether training courses were at an appropriate level, whether new skills were being developed and whether or not credit was given for skills acquired prior to the training. Satisfaction overall was high [employers 90+%, apprentices 86%, trainees 84%]. Employers of trainees were somewhat more satisfied about the appropriateness of the level of courses and on the development of new skills than were apprentices’
Satisfaction with the level of training by apprentices/ trainees declined with age. However, about a third of apprentices and 46% of trainees believed that the training they received could have commenced at a higher level.
The vast majority of apprentices/trainees [88%] believed that they developed new skills through their training, but 20% of the trainees didn’t share that belief.
Almost three quarters of employers stated that their apprentices or trainees received credits for skills prior to training commencement. According to them trainees were marginally more likely to receive such credit, because they were more likely to have existing skills. While 91% of employers responding to this question were satisfied at the process for recognising the prior skills,
62% of apprentices and trainees had their existing skills and competencies recognised and 15% of apprentices and 23% of trainees but did not. However there was overwhelming satisfaction with the process of prior recognition.
Table 6: Appropriateness of course level
% Employers of Course at
Appren- tices [N=380]
Yes 86 94 88 84
No 14 6 11 15
Don’t know - 0 1 1
Total 100 100 100 100
Choice of Provider
Respondents were questioned about the reasons for their choice of provider.
They were able to provide more than one reason if they chose. Chief reasons offered by employers were:
• reputation of provider [21%]
• only provider offering the course [19%]
• proximity to workplace [18%]
• past experience with provider [14%]
• employer choice [49%]
• proximity to home [20%
• reputation of provider [16%]
• only provider offering the course [10%]
Table 7: Reason for choice of provider
% Employers of Reasons for choice of provider Appren-
Reputation 13 28 23 10
Only one offering course 26 12 14 6
Close to workplace/employer 23 13 9 3
Past experience with provider 14 14 n.a. n.a.
Quality of teaching, equipment 13 14 8 5
Relevance of course content to business
5 14 n.a. n.a.
Apprentice/trainee/employer chose 9 3 30 68
Close to apprentice/trainee home 10 1 33 6
Flexibility of course time, location 6 4 5 4
Other 9 21 15 12
Don’t know 1 2 2 1
Note that totals exceed 100% because of multiple responses.
Relationships With Other Bodies
Employers, apprentices and trainees were asked to identify the type of organisation with whom they had dealings in organising apprenticeships and traineeships, and to indicate their degree of satisfaction. Trainees were more inclined to have used Group Training Companies and less inclined to have used TAFE Institutes than were apprentices.
Table 8: Bodies dealt with in organising training
% Employers of
Type of Body Appren-
Group Training Company 26 45 19 26
TAFE Institute 38 26 35 18
New Apprenticeship Centre 32 30 8 5
Apprenticeship field officer/OTFE 18 17 7 5
Other training provider 7 13 8 16
Employer 12 9 6 13
Obtained job myself - - 6 1
Employment agency - - 2 2
Other 12 9 4 8
None 4 4 14 11
Don’t know 2 1 2 3
Note that totals exceed 100% because of multiple responses.
The vast majority of all respondents were very or somewhat satisfied with the services they were provided. Variations in satisfaction of employers with providers was most often the extent to which they were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied.
Table 9: Employer’s level of satisfaction with provider services
% Bodies dealt with Satisfaction NAC
Field officer [N=130]
TAFE Institute [N=245]
Very satisfied 48 49 55 51 53 59
42 37 31 36 33 27
10 11 12 11 14 13
Don’t know 0 1 2 2 0 3
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100
Table 10: Apprentices/trainees level of satisfaction with provider services
% Bodies dealt with Satisfaction NAC
Field officer [N=45]
TAFE Institute [N=204]
Very satisfied 39 52 47 42 45 35
49 38 42 44 48 51
2 7 7 11 7 4
Don’t know 0 - - 0 - 2
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100
NAC = New Apprentice Centre GTC = Group Training Company
Field officer = Apprenticeship Field Officer/OTFE
Apprentices are slightly more satisfied with the services provided by TAFE Institutes, than are trainees.
Respondents were asked whether or not they had training plans, whether or not they were involved in their development, what they contained and how they were used.
Far more employers of trainees had training plans in all cases [81%] i.e. for all their trainees, than those of apprentices [52%]. The larger the number of apprentices employed however, the higher proportion of employers who had plans for all their apprentices. About two-thirds of employers stated that they were involved in the development of plans.
According to employers plans were highly likely to include the competencies or modules to be completed [89% of employers], who would deliver them [83%], who would assess the competencies [88%] and how they would be delivered [77%]. In all cases, employers of trainees included these elements in plans.
Despite the number of employers stating that they had training plans for all their apprentices/trainees, only 55% of apprentices/trainees had training plans with a slightly higher proportion of trainees having plans [59% versus 51%].
Only a minority of apprentices/trainees [29%] were involved in the
development of their training plans and 40% stated that they hadn’t referred to the plan to check their progress.
Asked whether or not any training had yet been delivered, 85% of employers said some or all had been and 14% said none had been. A higher proportion of larger, metropolitan employers stated that the training had commenced than small, non-metropolitan ones. 77% of apprentices/trainees said that their training had commenced.
Training takes place in the workplace with provider’s materials or on-site instruction, delivered by the employer, or by attendance off-site in classes.
The method adopted varied between apprentices and trainees, according to type of provider, size of company and location. Apprentices were twice as likely to attend classes while trainees utilise on site arrangements more as do non-metropolitan companies. Larger companies are more likely to receive on- site training from providers than are small ones. Responses from
apprentices/trainees reflect the same pattern.
Table 11: Method of training
% Employers of % Employers
Provider Method All [N=648]
Non- metro [N=219]
Delivers material to workplace
32 11 54 33 31 29 38
On-site instruction by provider
40 13 66 47 32 37 45
Employer delivers on behalf of provider
29 20 38 35 23 22 43
Apprentice/traine e attends classes
74 98 50 75 73 73 76
Other 0 - 0 - 0 0 -
Don’t know 0 0 0 1 - 0 -
All = all employer responding to the question Apps = employers of apprentices
T’nees = employers of trainees
There were reasonably high levels of satisfaction with the delivery methods with almost 69% of employers satisfied or very satisfied and only 9%
dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. A higher proportion of trainee’s employers were very satisfied than those of apprentices. TAFE Institutes were less likely to leave employers very satisfied than other providers. A slightly higher
proportion of apprentices/trainees than employers were satisfied or very satisfied [72%].
Three quarters of employers stated that their apprentices/trainees had been assessed [70% of employers of apprentices, 81% of trainees]. Over 90% of them were satisfied with the assessment overall and were satisfied that skills were adequately assessed and that the assessment was fair and
professional. 69% of apprentices/trainees had been assessed and they also were overwhelmingly satisfied with the assessment.
Supervision and Feedback
Employers were asked about the extent of involvement of workplace supervisors in training delivery or assessment and whether or not they received adequate feedback on the progress of their apprentices/trainees.
Apprentices and trainees were asked whether or not they had received adequate information on their training.
Two thirds of employers advised that supervisors were involved daily but this varied significantly for apprentices [79%] and trainees [54%].
74% of the employers believed that they received adequate information on the progress of apprentices/trainees, that is, a quarter of them believed that they did not. Employers of apprentices were marginally less satisfied about feedback than those of trainees.
Three-quarters of apprentices/trainees received adequate feedback on their progress but fewer trainees [69%] than apprentices [79%] believed this to be the case. A substantial minority did not receive adequate feedback [20% of apprentices; 29% of trainees].
Respondents were asked to nominate the reasons for their involvement in apprentices/traineeships and whether or not they achieved their objective in becoming involved. Responses from employers varied significantly in relation to whether they referred to apprentices or trainees. Employers of trainees were three times more likely to cite an increase in the businesses skill levels as the main reason, whereas passing on trade skills, employing a new worker and supporting industry development were the main reason for twice as many employers of apprentices.
Table 12: Main reason for becoming involved
% Employers of
Main Reason Appren-
Increase skill levels in the business 13 40
Give an opportunity to a young person 18 18
Pass on trade skills 21 10
Employ a new worker 18 7
Support the development of the industry 15 4
Financial benefit 3 6
Access training wages and subsidies 1 4
Other 9 9
None 0 1
Don’t know 1 1
Total 100 100
95% of employers stated that their main objective in becoming involved had been reached. This response applied across all categories.
Apprentices and trainees reflected a similar pattern to the employers responses, although their reasons had a more personal focus.
Table 13: Apprentices and trainees main reason for involvement
% Total [N=760]
Start a career in this industry 59 21 40
Get a job 22 17 20
Get a better job or promotion 7 22 14
Employer decided 3 24 13
Qualifications 1 4 3
Interest in trade 3 1 2
Other 5 11 8
Total 100 100 100
A high proportion of apprentices and trainees [59%] stated that qualifications were an additional reason for becoming involved.
Respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with a set of statements about the outcomes of the training of apprentices/trainees.
Overall employer responses were very positive towards the training and its value. However, views about whether the balance in training between theory and practice, and on and off the job components were somewhat less positive than the relevance of the training for the business or industry, and whether or it represented value for money. A quarter of employer respondents agreed that there was a lack of personal development of apprentices/trainees.
Table 14: Employers’ views on the outcomes of apprenticeship/traineeship
% of Employers [N=760]
Statement of outcome
Dis- agree strongly
Don’t know Skills of the
apprentice/trainee fit your business needs
49 46 4 1 0
Skills of the apprentice/
trainee are relevant to the industry needs
47 46 5 1 1
Course had the right balance between theory and practice
26 54 10 4 6
Course had the right balance between on and off job training
24 54 14 4 5
There is little value in the qualification for apprentices/ trainees
3 10 38 47 2
A lack of personal development of apprentices/trainees
5 26 43 23 3
Investment in the training is good value for money
44 45 7 2 2
Skills acquired during the
apprenticeship/traineesh ip are not useful for the apprentices/trainees’
2 6 39 52 1