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Occupational identity in Australian traineeships: An initial exploration. Erica Smith, University of Ballarat Australia. Apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia. Approx 400,000 participants from 1.6 million VET participants and a labour force of 12 million;

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occupational identity in australian traineeships an initial exploration

Occupational identity in Australian traineeships: An initial exploration

Erica Smith, University of Ballarat

Australia

apprenticeships and traineeships in australia
Apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia
  • Approx 400,000 participants from 1.6 million VET participants and a labour force of 12 million;
  • Participants are always employed and therefore ‘study’ part-time towards a qualification, usually at AQF level III or IV;
  • Participants may be of any age and may work full-time or part-time;
  • The government funds the training and also provides employment incentives; and
  • ‘Study’ may be at a public (TAFE) college or a private college (‘RTOs’), or mainly on-the-job.
what s different about traineeships
What’s different about traineeships?
  • They are ‘new’ (approx 20 years) and more likely to be in newer industry areas and/or those which did not traditionally have any qualifications;
  • They cover many jobs where the workforce is predominantly female eg aged care, retail;
  • They suffered for many years from perceptions of low quality in delivery and a thin curriculum;
  • They usually last for 12-18 months as opposed to a typical 3-year apprenticeship.
occupational identity
Occupational identity
  • A “home” with psychological, social and ideological “anchors” (Brown, 2004);
  • Often fixed through history but nevertheless offering scope for shaping either individually or collectively;
  • Workers vary in their need and desire for occupational identity.
the research
The research
  • Two case studies from a study on quality in traineeships.
  • Each involved 6-8 senior stakeholder interviews at industry and government level (State and National) and two company exemplars, involving interviews with workers, managers and training providers).
  • Asset maintenance (cleaning) Certificate III and General construction Certificate II.
asset maintenance cleaning
Asset maintenance (cleaning)
  • An industry area that previously lacked qualifications.
major issues cleaning
Major issues: Cleaning
  • An industry with low profit margins and many underqualified managers.
  • Workers often had low literacy levels.
  • High levels of technological advance and deep knowledge requirements.
  • Snobbery exhibited by some stakeholders and training providers.
  • Workers enjoyed training but were relatively unaware of qualification ladders and career prosects.
general construction certificate ii
General Construction Certificate II
  • An industry where apprenticeships are firmly entrenched, at Certificate III level.
main issues construction
Main issues: Construction
  • Massive resistance by trade unions to traineeships.
  • Has resulted in low levels of take-up and poor pathways into Cert III (Apprenticeship level).
  • A new qualification with better pathways was being blocked by trade unions at the time of the study.
  • Often used for disadvantaged groups eg indigenous workers in remote locations and for high-school-based workers.
  • In most cases employers used apprentice-like training methods.
discussion
Discussion
  • Individual level: Some workers may identify more closely with organisation than the occupation; they may not value their traineeship qualification very highly; some trainees don’t know they are on traineeships.
  • Organisational level: Many employers are inexperienced in traineeship management. Unions have actively opposed traineeships.
  • Society as a whole: The jobs covered by traineeships are of lower status than those covered by apprenticeships. This may change over time.
find out more
Find out more?
  • Smith, E., Comyn, P., Brennan Kemmis, R. & Smith, A. (forthcoming). High quality traineeships: identifying what works. Adelaide: NCVER.

www.ncver.edu.au

  • Or email e.smith@ballarat.edu.au