Friday, April 20, 2012

NZ vocational research forum -- day 2

Day two opens with welcome from Dr. Peter Coolbear, CE of Ako Aotearoa. Provided a short overview of yesterday and connection to the contributions from today. Important to think about what the priorities are for VET research into the short and long term.

Keynote 3 is on 'Maori Learners in workplace settings' with Cain Kerehoma from Kahui Tautoko Consulting. An Ako Aoteoroa National project with MITO, BCITO, ETITO and the ITF that commenced in 2011. Other projects conducted in formal training so important to undertake this project on workplace learning. 40 plus learners in 3 regions (Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Wellington) from motor and building trades. Investigate how Maori workers learn in the workplace, what works and what are the barriers to sucess. Used focus groups and interviews to talk with (not about) Maori learners. From stakeholders, points to note include: learner attitude a key; ethnicity not a key factor in outcomes; failure attributed to family backgrounds and wider social/economic factors; some distinctive characteristics of Maori learners; and positive relationships a key. Feedback from learners include: learners come from multiple backgrounds; focused on 'getting the 'ticket'; importance of whanau support and expectations; relationships with employer; apprenticeship model works well; barriers occurred for accessing off job training; and some distinct learning approaches used (learning styles, shyness, wait for others to ask rather than approach supporters for assistance).

Attended session with Helen McPhun (McZoom) and Andy Graves (IAG training manager) on 'the proof's in the pudding: evaluation of a winning partnership. Looks into changes made to IAG induction programme - 4 weeks induction plus option to complete ANZIIF qualification over 2 years. Pilot run to provide four weeks induction, integrating modules of the NC in Finance (level 4) and rest of qualification completed over first year at work. Programme developed by determining parameters (cause), business needs, performance needs, learning needs, preference needs towards 'delivered solution'. -- engage learners reaction, stimulate learning, improve performance application and produce results on business impact. Evaluation of the pilot reveal high learner engagement, assessment activities stimulated learning, ability to apply learning, competency achieved between 2 - 4 weeks instead of at least 8 weeks.

Then 'lessons from ITO embedded literacy and numeracy' with Rose Ryan and Heather McDonald from plus Alison Doyle and Rosemary Sutton who also contributed to the project. reports on Department of Labour commissioned evaluation. Pilot projects fund between 2006 - 2008 and 2009 saw funding for capability building and trainee learning. In 2011, embedding became business as usual. Embedding supported by ITO PD activities, ITF good practice project and establishment of ITF literacy/numeracy network. Project was formative to look at range of models used by ITOs to embed; whether some models more effective than others; and what value is placed in improving lit/num for learners. Interviews conducted with 23 ITOs and case studies conducted (3 ITOs in 2010, 2 in 2011). Findings include ongoing strategic development in IT0S; awareness raising and capability building along with processes of assessment and diagnosis. Lessons learnt include: support from industry employers; need to build capability internally and with on and off job trainers; and sustainability of on-going change.

Keynote 4 is with Francesca Beddie, general manager, research, at the National Centre for Voc Ed Research (NCVER) in Australia. She presented on 'a common vision for VET research in Australia'. Outlined aspiration of NCVER to ensure public funding is spent wisely on research to inform tertiary ed and training. Every 3 years, NCVER undertakes by consulting with researchers, policy makers, training practitioners etc. leading to recommendations for VET research priorities. Important to set 'generic' priorities rather than specific recommendations due to fluid and dynamic nature contributed by social/political contexts. Included is need to continue building the evidence base; have high level evaluation aimed at assessing the impact of policy interventions; and continued efforts to build researcher capability. impact of research also important - four domains involved - knowledge production, capacity building, informing policy and informing practice.

A workshop on 'working together towards a common vision for NZ VET research' then took place. Session led by Mark Oldershaw and a list of questions to consider included topics for research; how to communicate research findings; and how to assist new researchers and build communities of practice.

After lunch, 3 more concurrent sessions. I attended the following
Siobhan Murray presented the Ministry of Education work on the Industry training review: Employer perspectives on VET. Part of review of industry training. Survey with interviews with employers. Survey gathered information on respondents (960 employers), types of training, decisions about training, access to training and opinions about VET system. 300 + employers had between 1 - 5 employees. employers more likely to invest in training for specific rather than all staff; regulartory compliance and upgrading staff skills in current job main training types; apprenticeship most common with training accessed via ITOs; qualification completion rated as very impt; and costs of having staff away from workplace and training cost main barriers to further training. Most common method was in-house followed by ITO organised. Employers value training and feedback also gained on ITO and training provider supports. areas for ITO improvement include type of training, better support for training and better communication.For tertiary providers type of training, better quality courses/tutors and communication/consultation.

Then a session with Sarah Crichton from the Department of Labour on 'Industry trainees and their pay rates. analysis of data from 2003-2008 for adults 20-64 of benefits from participation (120,000 with 95,000 trainees in employment before and after) in workplace based training. Generally, trainees completing level 1 qual. did not show gains. completing level 2 provided small gain in earnings. Level 3 a bit more and level 4 gained 7% increase in earnings. important gain in that trainees completing quals. tended to be still in employment after 3 years.

Lastly, Fiona Stokes from BERL reported on the work of measuring the economic costs and benefits of industry training. in general, economic benefits are gained from training and especially important in certain sectors (export). Presentation centred around key figures and on methodology used to derive the costs. Data gathered from usual sources -stats from Ministry of Education, Dept. of Labour and also interviews with trainees, ITOs, employers etc. Economic costs include cash funding from TEC to ITOs ($1550 - $2300) but NOT in kind costs (staff away on courses etc.). Also employer and employee costs. Role productivity training generally have low training costs ($2450-$8400) but significant and immediate impact. Occupational and trades training have higher costs ($60-70000 over several years), margin increases once trained but life long skills and on-going benefits to individual and industry.

Final plenary session discussed 'a way forward for VET research in NZ' through collation of the discussions at the workshop just before lunch. Topics to research - incentives/motivations/aspirations, what leads to success/completions, pathways, ROI, Skill utilisation, generic skills. Communication - website for VET research, forums, be more proactive - promote use of media, versions of publications for different audiences, common language/no jargon, more cross agency collaboration. New researchers - community of practice, mentors, networking opportunities, better cross tertiary communication and funding/seed money.
Panel of Peter Davies, Francesca Beddie, Peter Coolbear and Mark Oldershaw presented briefly on the collations.

Overall, a good conference with many focused and relevant papers reflecting the current political climate.

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