Most adaptions and innovations by Australian companies to the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic did not involve the sort of training provided by the VET sector, according to a new report.
A survey of businesses conducted by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) found that where training was required, it tended to be conducted through informal on-the-job training or free online training from government, industry associations or vendor websites rather than through accredited VET institutions.
In many cases, workers’ existing skills could be transferred with little difficulty.
The aged care sector was the exception, where some accredited training occurred, especially in infection control.
In manufacturing most changes in company operations were adaptive rather than innovative – for example switching from fashion manufacturing to personal protective clothing.
Online training was used by some businesses to upskill in web design, new contactless booking systems or new student enrolment systems.
This tended to be provided by software vendors rather than through RTOs.
The survey was conducted through interviews in three targeted industries- manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality and tourism.
According to NCVER: “Interviewees from the case studies had mixed views about the ability of the VET sector to meet current training needs, whether pandemic-related or not.
“A common theme from all three case study industries was that a future role for VET may lie in developing skills in leadership and management during crises such as the pandemic, but also including floods, drought and bushfires rather than technical skills.”
Some respondents displayed a strong preference for short intensive courses or micro-credentials which enabled businesses to be responsive to rapid change, although this was not a view shared by all.
“Some (were) concerned about how such an approach would address enduring skills shortages.
“Businesses were generally not concerned with whether available training was accredited unless this was a requirement of the job.”
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