State of VET survey results – Some interesting perspectives!

As some of you know a few weeks ago I asked people who were interested to fill out a quick survey I had created about their perception of the how the VET sector was travelling at the moment and their confidence in the sector moving forward.  Now it has taken me a little while to get back to the survey because, frankly, I was overwhelmed by the number of responses that I got and it has taken some time to troll through the data and to think about what that data says.  Firstly then a very, very big thank you to everyone who filled in the survey and now on to the results.

Most of the responses were from those in non-public providers, about 70%, 15% were from TAFEs and the final 15% made up of independent trainers and assessors, consultants and others, with respondents from across a wide range of roles within the sector. Which given the make up of the sector itself is not too bad a mix.  What I found interesting given the respondents was when I looked at the data there was so much cohesion around the answers to the various questions I posed.

The first two pieces of data are about respondents satisfaction with the sector and how they think the sector will travel of the next 12 months.

Sector Satisfaction


12 month satisfaction outlook

A huge 80% of respondents were either very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with the current state of the sector and 79% of the sector thinks that the situation is either going to stay the same or get worse over the next 12 months.  Interestingly while as a sector we seem to a little disillusioned shall we say and think things are likely to remain how they are for a while, it seems that we don’t really think it is going to have too much effect on your student numbers.  Sure no one it seems expects that there is going to huge growth in the number of students they enroll over the next 12 months but only a small number feel that there will be a significant decrease in student numbers as well.

Enrollment forcast


The other piece of data that I found worrying was perceptions around financial security and profitability.  The majority of respondents felt, not unsurprisingly I think, that their profitability was either going to remain the same of decrease.  With smaller number predicting increases or substantial decreases


This of course translates into the fact that only 18% of respondents felt that their ongoing financial security was either sound or very sound.

Financial security


Which then underlies the fact that in general providers feel the revenue they generate from traditional sources is going to decrease over the next 12 months, but there also seems to be a level of confidence that revenue from other sources will rise.

funding sources

These factors of course will then have an effect on the make up of the VET sector workforce as can be seen below.


So what does all of this mean?  Well not unexpectedly I think it points strongly to the fact that we are currently part of a sector which is in a state of flux and which is to some extent attempting to find its feet again and that this general uncertainty will be something we are going to have to live with at least until the end of 2016 and may a little longer after that as well.  There will be and in a lot of cases should be a tightening of belts and more fiscal responsibility from providers.  We will see less sponsorship of football teams and more money being concentrated where it should be, on student outcomes and completions.  We are also going to see the the dollar value per student reduce across the board, be it VFH, State funding or Fee for Service.  Providers will get less overall money per student which will result in lower profitability in most cases.  Are we going to see more providers abandon the market either voluntarily or through administration?  Clearly I think the answer there is a definitive yes.  There are still a couple of the larger (primarily VFH fueled providers) who are close to the bone at the moment, but not being publicly traded makes it difficult to know just how close they are.  I also think that a number of smaller providers will simply walk away, some for profitability reasons, other just because it is becoming to hard to be a small player unless you other systems supporting you.  I know of a number of providers who have walked away from State government contracts to deliver training, because for the small number of students they put through the additional compliance and paperwork made it not cost-effective.  These providers haven’t walked away entirely though, but have simply gone back to doing fee for service business.

So what do other people think of the data, what it means and how you think things are going to pan out over the next 12 months or so.



About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

8 Responses to State of VET survey results – Some interesting perspectives!

  1. Chris says:

    I believe the survey results are very reflective of what’s is happening in the VET sector

  2. Chemene says:

    Interesting post, Paul. I daresay I agree with the results, but am also reassured by the many professionals I associate with (largely on LinkedIn) who want to make VET better. If we can all just take a lesson from the movie, Finding Nemo, and start swimming – TOGETHER – in the SAME DIRECTION. I think we can do some great things. Will you be speaking about this at the AITD Conference?

    • pauldrasmussen says:

      Chemene, Unfortunately I think that is one of the things doesn’t come out in data, is that that while there are a lot of people feel (and probably rightly so) less than confident about the sector at the moment, there is also also a lot of people who as you say, really want to work towards making things better in the sector. I think that the positive that I take from the data is that there is a deep understanding that the sector needs to work together to move forward, acting entirely from positions of individual self interest have put us here and we need to work together to move forward. I do touch on it in the presentation, particularly around brand and the idea working together to get the best outcomes for customers, regardless of whether you do the business or pass it on to someone else.

  3. Arpan Sidhu says:

    Its very interesting Paul,but I believe VET sector is filled up by business persons rather than people who are really passionate about education and delivering as per industry demands.In general people think VET has lots of money,specially funding,but we have seen recent ASQA audits which shuts many dodgy RTOs. This sector needs passionate educators,not businesspersons.

    • pauldrasmussen says:

      Arpan, I don’t think the sector is full of business people. I think that for the most part, the vast majority of people who are in the sector and who have been in the sector for some time are passionate and dedicated people for whom the goal of what they do is high quality student outcomes. I think unfortunately over that last couple of years people whose sole motivation has been money have moved into the sector and are now falling over and out of the sector.

  4. Brent says:

    How many respondents were there?

  5. Sam says:

    Hi Paul;
    I totally agree. I was in the industry as an educator and an owner of an RTO for last 25 years and never felt this bad. I lost my enthusiasm!

  6. Wayne says:

    Well done on the Survey Paul, I agree the situation is Bleak but in response to some above. Those that have passion for Teaching or Training etc. still have a commercial focus you must be paid to be able to deliver and impart your knowledge and skills so therefore those with Business focus are also key components to this cause and the future of VET. lets also look at the fact of there are more private providers who rely on business revenue and are governed by Public sector doctrines and can make any changes as they are paid by public purses without out risk. Unlike an RTO that has Funding cuts or constant changes to TP and Products such as the TAE which is such a huge Impact on business and the trainers who are so confused as to what is required to keep employment within this Sector. Stop changing for the sake of Change is my view.

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