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  • Not just a dream

    Aboriginal student pathways to higher level qualifications in TAFE NSW

  • ii | WWW.BVET.NSW.GOV.AU NSW BOARD OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING

    Preliminary

    Acknowledgements

    The research team acknowledges the invaluable input from:

    TAFE NSW Aboriginal studentswhose stories and reflections add the fish around the bones of the data gathered for this study

    the Board of Vocational Education and Training (BVET)which has funded and supported this study

    the project reference groupwhose members have guided the projects progress through its stages

    Department of Education and Communities (DEC) and TAFE NSW Aboriginal managers and stafffor their key role in gathering and confirming student data, sharing their stories and their generous input throughout project.

    Cover and internal artwork by Connie Ah See.

    Connie is a proud descendant of the Wirrum Wirrum people of the Wiradjuri Nation of the Wellington valley NSW: formerly Bindjung. She is also a head teacher at TAFE NSWWestern Institutes Yarradamarra Arts Centre in Dubbo.

    About the artwork

    The artwork illustrates the journey Aboriginal peoples and non-Aboriginal peoples take together to help Aboriginal students achieve their Dreams.

    The circle in the middle depicts the education centres in which they work. The crossed lines show Aboriginal communities accessing those centres from across NSW.

    Publishing details

    Compiled by TAFE NSW Level 2, 35 Bridge Street Sydney NSW 2000

    Copies of this report can be downloaded from the NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training website at: http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

    Printed by TAFE NSWSydney Institute, High Volume Print Cell

    NSW Department of Education and CommunitiesMay 2013

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

  • NSW BOARD OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING WWW.BVET.NSW.GOV.AU | iii

    This course, and the TAFE location, and people I met

    (including the teachers) were pivotal to me gaining employment,

    learning about life in general and growing as an individual

    It allowed me to dream on a whole other level.

    TAFE NSW student response,

    BVET Aboriginal pathways research project

  • iv | WWW.BVET.NSW.GOV.AU NSW BOARD OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING

    Preliminary

    Key cultural terminology

    Definitions

    Aboriginal

    In this report the word Aboriginal refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW.

    Indigenous

    In this report the word Indigenous refers to the First Peoples of the World.

    Community

    In this report the word Community refers to Aboriginal communities across NSW.

    Elders

    In this report the word Elder follows the traditional meaning. The traditional meaning of an Aboriginal Elder is someone who has gained recognition within their community as a custodian of knowledge or lore, and who has permission to disclose cultural knowledge and beliefs. Recognised Elders are highly respected people within Aboriginal communities. In some instances, Aboriginal people above a certain age will refer to themselves as Elders. However, it is important to understand that in traditional Aboriginal culture, age alone does not necessarily mean that one is a recognised Elder.

    Limitations of the study

    It should be noted that the project does not provide a complete picture of VET outcomes for Aboriginal students.

    Firstly, it is limited to student experience within TAFE NSW and does not include vocational education and training undertaken with other registered training organisations (RTOs).

    Secondly, it is limited to students who self-identified as Aboriginal on enrolment.

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

  • NSW BOARD OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING WWW.BVET.NSW.GOV.AU | v

    Table of contents

    Preliminary

    Acknowledgements ................................................................................................................. ii Key cultural terminology ......................................................................................................... iv Limitations of the study .......................................................................................................... iv

    Section 1: Key messages

    This section provides a short summary of key messages and recommendations from the study.

    Recommendations .................................................................................................................. 2 Key features of success for Aboriginal student pathways ........................................................ 4

    Section 2: Introduction

    This section gives a brief outline of the policy context since 2005 with implications for the study.

    About the research ...................................................................................................................5 Policy context: 2005 to now .................................................................................................... 6 Evidence of improvement in outcomes for Aboriginal students ............................................... 8

    Section 3: What we have learned from other projects

    This section provides a summary of related current research, particularly TAFE NSW projects which inform the study. Only projects which specifically focus on VET pathways and completions of Aboriginal students in TAFE NSW have been included rather than a full review relating to current Aboriginal education research.

    Focus on qualification completions ......................................................................................... 9 Pre-vocational programs ........................................................................................................ 10 Improving Aboriginal student outcomes ................................................................................ 10

    Section 4: Research methodology

    This section outlines the research methodology for all stages of the study.

    Stage 1Analysis of student data .......................................................................................... 13 Stage 2Individual student interviews ................................................................................... 15 Stage 3Focus groups: Aboriginal support staff .................................................................... 16

    Section 5: Overview of Aboriginal student outcomes (20052010)

    This section provides overall analysis from the enrolment and completions data based on the initial cohort of 3,014 Aboriginal students (1524 years) who enrolled in TAFE NSW for the first time in 2005.

    Summary of initial enrolments by Aboriginal students in 2005 by cohort ............................... 17 Summary of qualification completions for Aboriginal students (20052010) .......................... 18

    Section 6: Enrolment and completion outcomes for specific cohorts of Aboriginal students: 20052010

    This section provides detailed analysis of enrolments and completions 20052010 of students from the initial cohort of 3,014 Aboriginal students (1524 years) based on their course of first enrolment.

  • vi | WWW.BVET.NSW.GOV.AU NSW BOARD OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING

    Section 7: What worked for successful Aboriginal students

    This section provides analysis of data from interviews with successful students who completed an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificate III level qualification or above during the six years of the study. It also includes reflections by Aboriginal support staff gathered in focus groups.

    Data have been organised into key themes and each theme concludes with a summary. The diagram included in Appendix 2 summarises key research themes. Quotes included in this section were gathered during individual student interviews and do not identify the students or their location. Where quotes are from focus groups of Aboriginal support staff, this is indicated.

    Student snapshots are included under relevant themes. Where individual students are identified, they have given permission for publication of their pathway stories.

    7.1 Student expectations and motivation ............................................................................... 32 7.2 The learning experience .................................................................................................... 36 7.3 Support services............................................................................................................... 40 7.4 Employment ....................................................................................................................45

    Section 8: Student pathways

    This section includes a summary of pathways taken by successful students who completed a qualification at AQF Certificate III level and above.

    Diverse range of enrolments by students who completed courses .......................................... 51 Courses with the highest number of completions ................................................................... 52 Analysis of student pathways ................................................................................................. 52

    Section 9: Recommendations

    This section includes a short discussion of the key themes, conclusions and recommendations emerging from all stages of the study, including suggestions for future targeted research.

    Improving Aboriginal VET programs ...................................................................................... 63 Financial support and/or incentives ....................................................................................... 64 Further investigation ............................................................................................................. 64

    References

    List of references used ...........................................................................................................65 List of figures ......................................................................................................................... 67 List of tables.......................................................................................................................... 68

    Appendices

    Appendix 1: Project team ...................................................................................................... 69 Appendix 2: Research instruments ......................................................................................... 70

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Section 1: Key messages

    This study reveals rich information on individual Aboriginal student success. However, it also demonstrates that further work is required to close the gap between the education and training outcomes of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

    There is pressure nationally to build a population with higher level skills and more employment resilience to cope with the changing nature of work. This means that any successes in Aboriginal education must be viewed through the prism of overall educational attainment for Australians. The challenge for training organisations is to continually review and improve practice, to test strategies, to learn through mistakes and to innovate.

    This report tells the story and journey of a group of 1524 year old Aboriginal students who enrolled in TAFE NSW for the first time in 2005. It traces their course enrolments and completions over the six year period 20052010 to determine how many achieved an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificate III level qualification or abovethe studys measure of success.

    The study confirms that selecting the most appropriate starting point in a vocational education and training (VET) pathway is critical. Conversations need to be held regularly with schools, TAFE NSW Institutes, other VET providers, universities, employment service providers and communities to ensure the necessary education, training, support services and employment opportunities are in place to assist Aboriginal students.

    The study suggests there is no specific pathway that is more effective than another in determining individual Aboriginal students success.

    Successful students interviewed for the study followed varied pathways to reach their employment goals, although these could generally be categorised into two types of pathway groups:

    planned, linear pathways; or pathways that appeared to be exploratory, with students trying

    out different courses and changing career paths mid-way.

    Regardless of the pathway taken, a number of successful Aboriginal students who started in a lower AQF level course, either as an orientation to TAFE and vocational study, or to consolidate their foundation skills, progressed to and completed a higher AQF level qualification over the six years of the study.

    For many of these Aboriginal students, an apprenticeship was their preferred outcome. They wanted a practical hands-on course with links to employment.

    Ultimately, students want training to deliver jobs

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    Factors contributing to success identified by successful students, regardless of the pathway taken, included:

    enrolment in courses where students were engaged and genuinely interested

    the degree of fit with the learning environment the support and encouragement provided by teachers and other staff opportunities to gain on-the-job experience, which helped

    students to appreciate the real-world value of their study and transition to real work.

    Students also identified barriers they faced. Issues such as the cost and lack of transport or travelling long distances, financial difficulties, personal issues and a lack of self-esteem and confidence in their academic ability impacted negatively on students.

    Barriers specific to students Aboriginality included a perceived lack of Aboriginal-specific support or a low level of awareness that specific support services were available. It is important to provide a culturally safe environment that recognises the cultural diversity of all Aboriginal students.

    Students ultimately wanted training to deliver jobs. This suggests additional work is needed on career planning to complete pathways for students, as well as more emphasis on collaboration between TAFE NSW, job service providers and employers.

    Recommendations from this study are not necessarily new, however they are practical and, in combination, could be applicable to all training organisations.

    They are a useful reminder that barriers to Aboriginal student success have still not been overcome. The challenge for training organisations such as TAFE NSW is to identify and implement strategies to overcome barriers and continuously evaluate their effectiveness in consultation with individuals and communities.

    Recommendations

    The recommendations fall under the following themes:

    Improving Aboriginal VET programs

    1. The report recommends that all Aboriginal tertiary education programs should include:

    appropriate student orientation and induction sessions, including for returning students

    initial career and educational skills assessment to identify potential support needs (for example, LLN, study skills, digital literacy)

    mentoring and support services throughout the learning experience

    processes to monitor student attendance and engagement patterns to identify if additional support is needed

    links to employment and further study opportunities.

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    2. The report recommends that customised learning and career plans for Aboriginal students should be developed and trialled.

    3. The report recommends that providers accessing public VET funding for Aboriginal students need to demonstrate that their organisations have:

    teachers with appropriate cultural competence to meet the education and training needs of Aboriginal people

    a record in providing appropriate support services strong liaison with the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group

    (AECG).

    Financial support and/or incentives

    4. The report recommends that public funding for Aboriginal VET, as far as possible, includes additional funding to support links to employment, either through direct employment, internships, simulated or actual work experience.

    Further investigation

    5. The report recommends that BVET commission further research to identify:

    the best models of pathway entry programs (foundation skills and lower level AQF courses) which enable Aboriginal students to progress to higher level AQF courses

    successful pathways by Aboriginal students from VET to higher education.

    It allowed me to dream on a whole other level.

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    Key features of success for Aboriginal student pathways

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    Section 2: Introduction

    About the research

    The NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training (BVET) commissioned this study into Aboriginal pathways to higher level qualifications in TAFE NSW. The study was guided by a reference group chaired by Ms Kate Baxter, Institute Director, TAFE NSWWestern Institute. Membership of the group is detailed at Appendix 1.

    The aim of the study was to identify a range of pathways taken by Aboriginal students, either into higher level qualifications at AQF Certificate III and above, or into employment. The study focused on 1524 year old Aboriginal students who commenced their studies for the first time in 2005. The study also aimed to identify the critical factors that assist young Aboriginal students to progress successfully into higher level qualifications as well as the barriers preventing their progression.

    The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) considers that an AQF Certificate III is the minimum level qualification which improves employment outcomes and provides pathways to further education and training1. COAG also cited research which suggested that partial completion of AQF Certificate I and II level qualifications is unlikely to improve employability2.

    A recent study3 has examined whether, in the absence of immediate positive economic returns, AQF Certificate I and II courses provide a springboard to further study and aid the transition into the workforce; or have less tangible benefits, such as improved foundation skills (like language, literacy and numeracy) or improved self-esteem. The study of young people concluded that completion is very important in determining whether or not AQF Certificate I or II confers any benefit, especially in relation to further study. It concluded that there are benefits of completing lower level AQF certificates for young people, with the benefits strongest among the most disadvantaged learners.

    This final report combines findings from the project including:

    analysis of enrolment and completion data (20052010) of the 3,014 1524 year old Aboriginal students who first enrolled at TAFE NSW in 2005

    responses from individual interviews with 77 Aboriginal students who were part of the initial group. Only students who had successfully completed AQF qualifications at Certificate III and above were interviewed due to a focus on a strength-based approach

    outcomes of focus groups of Aboriginal staff who provide support to TAFE NSW Aboriginal students.

    1 COAG Reform Council (2010), National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development: Performance report for 2009, Sydney 2 Karmel, T. (2009), Welfare to work: Does vocational education and training make a difference? NCVER, Adelaide 3 Oliver, D. (2012), Lower-level qualifications as a stepping stone for young people, NCVER, Adelaide

  • 6 | WWW.BVET.NSW.GOV.AU NSW BOARD OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING

    Data gathered through different sources allowed a richer analysis of issues than would have been available if only qualitative or quantitative data had been used in isolation. Themes which emerged in the quantitative data analysis were confirmed by qualitative data. This provided a more holistic view of issues that impact on VET pathways for Aboriginal students and how they could be improved.

    Aboriginal student voice has been included throughout the report in the form of quotes from student interviews. Quotes from the two focus groups conducted are also used to illustrate specific issues from an Aboriginal support worker/staff perspective.

    Policy context: 2005 to now

    Initiatives to improve educational and training outcomes for Aboriginal students have a long history. This report takes 2005 as its starting point and briefly examines the policy context at the point these students commenced their study.

    In 2004, a far reaching Review of Aboriginal Education was undertaken by the then NSW Department of Education and Training in partnership with the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG). This review investigated Aboriginal participation and achievement across primary, secondary and tertiary (VET) education. Based on data collected during 2003 and 2004, the Review acknowledged that not all Aboriginal people experienced educational disadvantage, but a significant majority recorded lower levels of achievement in language, literacy and numeracy and in Year 10 and 12 completion. The reports recommendations were all implemented.

    Members of the graduating cohort reported on in this Review who completed school in 2004 may have commenced TAFE NSW study in 2005, and therefore be part of this study.

    Thirty-five per cent (or 862) of the 1519 year old students whose enrolments were tracked from 2005 (n=2,462) reported their previous level of schooling to be at Year 9 level or below, while approximately 18 per cent of 1524 year old students enrolled in Certificate III or above.

    In March 2008, COAG endorsed the Closing the Gap strategy that aims to reduce Indigenous disadvantage. COAG agreed to six ambitious targets to address the disadvantage faced by Indigenous Australians in life expectancy, child mortality, access to early childhood education, literacy and numeracy, educational achievement and employment outcomes.

    The targets relating to VET and employment participation are to:

    halve the gap for Indigenous students in Year 12 (or equivalent) attainment rates by 2020; and

    halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and other Australians by 2018.

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    These Closing the Gap targets and partnership agreements are reflected in NSW 2021, which outlines:

    additional State targets for achieving increased Aboriginal employment by 2015; and

    a 20 per cent increase in the number of completions in higher level VET qualifications at AQF Certificate III and above by students in rural and regional NSW by 2020.

    In May 2009, the NSW Parliament passed legislation to increase the school leaving age. Students are now required to complete Year 10. If they have completed Year 10, but are not yet 17 years of age, they must continue in full-time education, training, paid employment or a combination of these until they turn 17. Students were first impacted by this legislation in 2010.

    Fast forward to 2011 and the picture of Aboriginal students commencing enrolment in TAFE NSW is somewhat different. Almost 35,000 Aboriginal students enrolled in TAFE NSW in 2011, 6.3 per cent of total enrolments. This is significant as Aboriginal people make up just 2.1 per cent of the NSW population. In 2011, nearly 12,000 Aboriginal students enrolled in AQF Certificate III and above qualifications and 2,256 Aboriginal students graduated at AQF Certificate III and above.

    It can therefore be argued that some of the State initiatives that commenced from 2005as well as others introduced by the Commonwealth, including Closing the Gap and raising the school leaving agehave started to deliver some improvements, especially in terms of increased commencements. But it is clearly not enough.

    In recent years, there has been VET sector wide emphasis on improving qualification completions. TAFE NSW has undertaken two statewide projects and all TAFE NSW Institutes have researched and implemented strategies to improve completions. While the outcomes for students of these interventions are not apparent in this study, strategies such as systematic tracking of vulnerable students, support for students in the first stage of their apprenticeship, targeted learner support and better information upfront to ensure students are in the best fit class are being implemented by TAFE NSW Institutes. They should have a longer term impact on outcomes for Aboriginal students. In 2011, the NSW Premier and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs established the Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal affairs. The Taskforce recommendations informed the NSW Government Plan for Aboriginal affairs4 published in April 2013. The Plans focus on supporting strong Aboriginal communities aligns with the findings of this research, including the importance of Aboriginal languages and building local employer relationships to increase employment opportunities for Aboriginal young people. The NSW Department of Education and Communities Connected Communities Strategy5, which positions targeted NSW schools as

    4 NSW Government (2013), OCHRE Opportunity, Choice, Healing, Responsibility, Empowerment: NSW Government Plan for Aboriginal affairs: education, employability and accountability 5 NSW Department of Education and Communities (2013), Connected Communities Strategy

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    community hubs, is a key initiative of the NSW Government Plan for Aboriginal affairs. Connected Communities advocates schools partnerships with universities and TAFE Institutes to support transitions for Aboriginal students from school to tertiary education and training.

    Evidence of improvement in outcomes for Aboriginal students

    In 2011, TAFE NSW provided training for almost 28 per cent of all Aboriginal VET students in Australia. The number of enrolments in TAFE NSW Institutes by Aboriginal people, especially younger students, has been steadily increasing over the past few years. Table 1 shows positive trends in enrolments and course completions for all 1524 year old Aboriginal students at TAFE NSW between 20052010.

    Course completions are a key output of the VET system and one of the key measures of registered training organisations (RTOs) in meeting the needs of students. However, calculating a qualification completion rate is complex due to the different ways the VET sector provides services to students.

    There is variation in the duration of VET qualifications and there are different entry and exit points, with the majority of VET students studying part-time. These factors all impact on qualification completions for particular courses or cohorts of students. The measure of completions that is used in this study does not address these variations but is simply the number of completions in a given year.

    Table 1: Enrolments and completions for Aboriginal students (1524 years) in TAFE NSW 20052010

    1519 year olds 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

    % change 20052010

    Enrolments 4,636 7,486 8,349 9,721 10,691 12,280 164.9%

    Completions 1,964 2,181 2,225 2,662 3.347 3,540 80.2% 2024

    year olds 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 % change 20052010

    Enrolments 2,232 3,596 3,858 4,221 4,324 5,438 143.6%

    Completions 1,324 1,241 1,382 1,388 1,347 1,643 24.1%

    Source: TAFE NSW Data Warehouse, 2011

    The number and proportion of Aboriginal students in NSW (1524 years of age) is likely to continue to rise over the next few years. This is in part due to the relative youth of the Aboriginal population. In 2011, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under 15 years of age was 35.8 per cent, compared with 18.3 per cent of the non-Indigenous population in the same age group6.

    6 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011), 3101.0 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates, 2011 Preliminary, Canberra

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Section 3: What we have learned from other projects

    This review draws on specific recent and current action research undertaken by TAFE NSW Institutes and staff to improve the education and training experience and qualification completions for Aboriginal students. It is not a standard literature review. Rather, the projects included in this section have been selected to match the focus of this report, which is about Aboriginal pathways within TAFE NSW.

    This internal research, like broader research into Aboriginal education attainment, makes it clear that the issues affecting Aboriginal student progression in education and training are varied and complex.

    Focus on qualification completions

    Getting clever about completions: improving qualification completions in TAFE NSW, (TAFE NSW, 2011) was an action research project which involved all TAFE NSW Institutes. Several Institutes chose to review Aboriginal student cohorts as part of local priority setting. The report concluded that completions are everyones business. This was an important finding, given the recommendations which arise from separate TAFE NSW research on Aboriginal students (Towney, 2012). The TAFE NSW-wide action research investigating qualification completions identified four key areas to support improved completions:

    pre-enrolment/enrolment strategies quality delivery and assessment building partnerships that support students and system administration issues.

    TAFE NSWRiverina Institute focused on improving completions for their Aboriginal students. Their project report, Staying the Course (TAFE NSWRiverina Institute, 2010), identified that Aboriginal students, particularly young school leavers, benefit from an orientation period to allow them to ease into a potentially threatening environment. Students need clear information upfront about course outcomes and what the course involves. Orientation needs to involve counsellors, Aboriginal student support officers and teachers. Ongoing case management and follow up with students is critical and additional services (transport, meals etc.) provided as required.

    This project identified good teaching practice as the main means of retaining students. Good teaching practice was defined as including some sort of case management, a genuine care of the student, an understanding of different learning styles, the need to establish rapport with the student and maintaining contact with them throughout the course.

    Students identified enrolment in a vocational course and co-enrolment in a foundation skills course (as required) as the best option for most young Aboriginal students to allow integrated literacy and numeracy support, preferably through team teaching.

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    Pre-vocational programs

    In order to improve training outcomes, it is critical that Aboriginal students can engage with and understand the relevance of education and training. Harding (NCVER, 2009) researched perceptions of students, school and VET staff involved in the VTracks program. This pilot program provided by TAFE NSWNorth Coast Institute gave Years 810 students opportunities to explore different vocational areas and identify pathways into further education and employment. These were supported by Deadly Days festivals, hosted by TAFE NSWNorth Coast Institute, which combined career expos and hands-on vocational workshops, where VTracks students could consolidate and showcase their learning, with traditional and contemporary cultural activities through interaction with Aboriginal Elders, parents and the community.

    The study identified that, generally, the students developed greater self-confidence in their learning, demonstrated increased engagement at school, and could more confidently articulate their future education and career options. The report noted that targeting students with no clearly identified academic pathways would be beneficial. Recommendations included developing a staged exposure to education, training and employment pathways for Aboriginal students from Year 7 onwards through VTracks programs, and continuing to operate Deadly Days in partnership with local high schools.

    Improving Aboriginal student outcomes

    TAFE NSWWestern and New England Institutes have high numbers of Aboriginal enrolments. Aboriginal student success, however, is lower than for their non-Aboriginal counterparts. These Institutes have undertaken specific research to improve outcomes and have already implemented a number of recommendations.

    Bowden (NCVER, 2012) researched teacher attributes and strategies using a stakeholder group to identify the most likely attributes and strategies to achieve success. She then tested these attributes with three groups of teachers. These included teachers with considerable, some and limited experience of working with Aboriginal students. She uncovered disparities between stakeholder and teacher perceptions, which led her to recommend improvements to teacher recruitment and professional development.

    This research also identified the physical learning environment as a factor that supports students. Bowden (2012: 18) quoted an interviewee who stated that young Indigenous people hate classrooms, it is part of the reason they drop out of high school.

    Towney (NCVER, 2012) interviewed Aboriginal TAFE NSW ex-students, Aboriginal Elders and significant community members. He worked with 30 ex-students in individual and group settings to encourage yarning outside Western (ie non-Aboriginal) research contexts to explore the reasons for non-completion and to develop recommendations to improve completion rates.

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Towney produced the challenging finding that teacher attitudes were a key reason for non-completion. He also emphasised the importance of induction and orientation sessions for Aboriginal students to introduce them to Aboriginal student support staff and services. His report referenced other research that identified the importance of providing learning spaces on campuses to encourage the interaction between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. Towney identified the great concern within the Aboriginal community (particularly among the Elders) about the need for the training to be linked to employment outcomes. His report also suggested that institutional funding issues could contribute to non-completions. An example used was midstream closure of courses when class sizes decrease.

    Like Harding, both Bowdens and Towneys studies identified a range of factors that impact on successful education and training pathways. All reports identified the importance of teachers cultural awareness being reflected in their attitudes and teaching practices, the inclusion of community in the development of programs and pathways and the ability to access appropriate and adequate pastoral and curriculum support. They also emphasised the need to use Aboriginal role models, mentors, teachers, and support staff; as well as treating Aboriginal students with respect, and not stereotyping or patronising students.

    All studies identified transport availability as an issue. Towney noted that, within TAFE NSWWestern Institute, at least five Aboriginal communities have no access to TAFE NSW facilities. However, where TAFE NSW was close to home, this was reported as beneficial for the continuity of studies. It should be noted that these three studies were based in regional TAFE NSW Institutes where travel distances are significant for many students.

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    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Section 4: Research methodology

    The three stages of the study were designed to collect both quantitative and qualitative data to provide a comprehensive picture about the pathways of Aboriginal students in TAFE NSW.

    Stage 1: Enrolment and completion data were analysed for all Aboriginal students enrolling in TAFE NSW, for the period 20052010. Data were gathered using individual TAFE NSW allocated student enrolment numbers (student IDs) and only included Aboriginal students (1524 years of age) enrolling in TAFE NSW for the first time in 2005 to better identify student pathways.

    Stage 2: Individual student interviews were conducted with 77 Aboriginal students who were part of the cohort tracked in Stage 1. Only students who had successfully completed an AQF qualification at Certificate III and above were included.

    Stage 3: Focus groups were conducted of Aboriginal staff providing support to TAFE NSW Aboriginal students.

    The specific processes used in each stage are detailed below.

    Stage 1Analysis of student data

    Using internal TAFE NSW enrolment and completion data, the progress of all 1524 year old Aboriginal students enrolling in TAFE NSW for the first time in 2005 was tracked from 2005 to 2010. The total number of students in this cohort was 3,014 (see Figure 1).

    To allow for a more detailed analysis of student pathways, the cohort was broken into two age groups according to age at first enrolment: 1519 years of age (2,462 students) and 2024 years of age (552 students).

    Student IDs were used to track each students course enrolments and completions from 2005, when they enrolled in their initial TAFE NSW course, to 2010. The number of continuing students in 2011 was also counted. This report does not include data about student pathways post-2010, however, students who returned in 2011 may have improved their qualification outcomes.

    For the purpose of the study, individuals were grouped according to the type/ level of the course (listed below) in which they first enrolled in 2005, as follows:

    Foundation skills courses: include literacy and numeracy programs, employability skills, preparation for work and study courses. This category also includes some higher AQF level courses such as HSC equivalent programs.

    AQF Certificate I and II courses: include entry level vocational courses across different vocational areas. Some students enrolled in Certificate II vocational courses were undertaking traineeships.

    AQF Certificate III courses: include a wide range of vocational areas. A number of the students who enrolled in Certificate III courses over the six years of the study were undertaking apprenticeships.

    AQF Certificate IV and above courses: include AQF qualifications at Certificate IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma level.

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    Non-AQF courses: for the purpose of this study these include Statements of Attainment and Accredited Short Courses which are nationally recognised, but are not full qualifications under the Australian Qualifications Framework, as well as locally developed TAFE PLUS courses and TAFE Statements.

    TAFE-delivered VET in Schools (TVET) courses: NSW VET in Schools courses are delivered by schools, TAFE NSW Institutes and other VET providers. The TAFE NSW delivered VET in Schools (TVET) program enables students enrolled at secondary schools to start nationally recognised VET qualifications with TAFE NSW which can count towards their Higher School Certificate (HSC). TVET courses are generally undertaken by students in Years 11 and 12 (Stage 6). Since 2009, TVET courses may also be undertaken as a standard option for students in Years 9 and 10 (Stage 5). These students must meet requirements which satisfy both the NSW Board of Studies and TAFE NSW. (TVET pathways were only examined for the 1519 year old student cohort in the study).

    Figure 1: Number of Aboriginal students (1524 years) enrolled in TAFE NSW for the first time in 2005 (n=3,014)

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Note: TVET enrolments were 1519 year old students only.

    Analysis of tracked data

    For each of these groups the student data were analysed to determine:

    the number of courses each student completed over the six year period

    the breakdown by age, gender, highest level of schooling, location, employment status and course

    the number of students who progressed to higher level qualifications

    the highest level of qualification completed by each student.

    Graphs and tables summarising this data analysis and which illustrate key themes identified through the qualitative data are included in Sections 5, 6 and 8 of this report.

    1,324

    539

    409

    403

    131 208 Foundation

    Non AQF

    Cert III

    Cert I or II

    Cert IV +

    TVET

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    Stage 2Individual student interviews

    Students targeted for interviews During early 2012, individual face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with Aboriginal students who were part of the cohort of 3,014 students whose TAFE NSW pathways were tracked in Stage 1. All interviews were conducted by Institute Aboriginal staff members.

    Only students who had successfully completed qualifications at AQF Certificate III level or above between 2005 and 2010 were targeted for interviews, as the purpose of the interviews was to identify factors which had contributed to the students success. This group of successful students included 350 students who had enrolled in all TAFE NSW Institutes, with the exception of one metropolitan Institute which was not included due to low target group numbers (n=10).

    A total of 77 student interviews were conducted. Institutes reported that many of the students within the target group of 350 students had out of date or incomplete contact details.

    Approximately 150 students were able to be contacted and of this group 77 were willing and available to be interviewed. At the time of interviews in early 2012, participants were aged between 22 and 31 years. The response rate of 77 interviews measured against the 150 students contacted was 51.3 per cent.

    However, if the number of interview respondents is measured against the initial cohort of potential contacts (350) then the response rate was 22 per cent.

    Of the 77 students interviewed, 55.8 per cent were female and 44.2 per cent were male. The gender breakdown in the initial cohort of 360 students who successfully completed courses at AQF Certificate III level and above was 53.1 per cent female and 46.9 per cent male. A summary of students interviewed during Stage 2 categorised by location and gender is included below.

    Table 2: Summary of Aboriginal students (1524 years) interviewed in Stage 2, by Institute and gender

    Students interviewed Male Female Total

    Metropolitan Institutes 19 22 41

    Regional Institutes 4 10 14

    Rural Institutes 11 11 22

    Total 34 43 77 Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

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    Interview process

    Semi-structured interviews were conducted by TAFE NSW Aboriginal support staff using an interview schedule (see Appendix 2). To support the student interview data, Institutes also provided a case study of a successful Aboriginal student.

    Students were asked about their experience of their past study, including their expectations and motivations for completing their chosen qualifications, the barriers they encountered and the factors they felt had contributed to their success. Data from the interviews were analysed and key themes identified.

    Stage 3Focus groups: Aboriginal support staff

    In 2012, two focus groups were conducted with Aboriginal support staff and managers to gain more insight into how best to support and encourage Aboriginal students in TAFE NSW.

    The first focus group (August 2012) included 13 Aboriginal staff from NSW State Training Services (STS). The group included STS regional office Aboriginal staff involved in the management and delivery of programs for Aboriginal people. These staff members work with employers and training providers and support Aboriginal students, mentors and workplace supervisors. This focus group, facilitated by the State Manager, Aboriginal Services Unit, NSW STS, included people with different support roles: an Aboriginal program manager; a senior Aboriginal employment advisor; Aboriginal training coordinators (6); an Aboriginal employment advisor; Aboriginal employment mentors (2); and Aboriginal customer service staff (2).

    The second focus group (September 2012) included seven Managers of Aboriginal Education and Training Support (MAETS) from TAFE NSW Institutes. The group was facilitated by an Aboriginal manager from the NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC).

    The same discussion guide was used for both focus groups. The guide included questions designed to identify critical factors for success, the pathways taken and the transition points encountered by Aboriginal students.

    Analysis of data gathered at all stages of the project has been grouped according to key themes which influence pathways for TAFE NSW Aboriginal students. This analysis is summarised in Section 8 of this report.

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    Section 5: Overview of Aboriginal student outcomes (20052010)

    Summary of initial enrolments by Aboriginal students in 2005 by cohort

    Initial course enrolments by Aboriginal students tracked as part of the project were spread across all qualification levels and industry areas. However, there was a high concentration of initial enrolments in lower level AQF courses. This aligns with students reported level of previous education.

    Figure 2 below shows the number of enrolments in 2005 for all students in the initial cohort broken down by the two age group cohorts and qualification level. There were enrolments by 2,462 students (1519 years of age) and 552 students (2024 years).

    The highest number of enrolments by all students was in foundation skills courses. Enrolments among 1519 year old students in foundation skills courses (n=1,126) were substantially higher than enrolments in any other group of courses.

    The next largest enrolment group was in non-AQF courses. There were similar numbers of students who first enrolled in an AQF Certificate I, II or III level qualifications with the smallest number of enrolments in an AQF Certificate IV or above level course.

    While not included as a specific cohort tracked in the study, information about enrolment in Aboriginal specific programs is included in the analysis in this section as it provides more data about enrolment choices made by Aboriginal students.

    Figure 2: Number of Aboriginal students (1524 years) enrolled in TAFE NSW in 2005 by age and qualification (n=3,014)

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    208

    1,126

    398 323 337

    70

    198 141 80 72 61

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    The highest number of Aboriginal student enrolments was in foundation skills courses

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    Summary of qualification completions for Aboriginal students (20052010)

    From the total of 3,014 Aboriginal students (1524 years of age) who enrolled for the first time in 2005, only 360 (just under 12 per cent) successfully completed qualifications at AQF Certificate III level or above over the six year period of the study. However, another 340 Aboriginal students (11.2 per cent) continued their pathways in 2011 and may have improved their outcome.

    More detailed analysis of the pathways taken by the 360 successful students is in Section 8.

    Multiple non-completions

    Enrolment and completions data for the 2005 cohort indicate there were some students who enrolled in multiple courses without completing programs.

    Figure 3 below summarises the number of student enrolments which did not result in a completion outcome. There were 615 students of the total cohort (n=3,014 students) who enrolled in one course and didnt complete (approximately 20 per cent). There were also 366 students from the total cohort who enrolled in three courses and didnt complete any courses (approximately 12 per cent).

    The data have been represented by geographic regions and indicate there was a higher incidence of non-completion in rural areas. External factors, such as limited transport options, could well be a factor contributing to non-completion.

    Figure 3: Number of Aboriginal students (1524 years) who enrolled once or 3 or more times and didn't complete, by region (n=981)

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    181

    143

    252

    39

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    Metro Regional Rural OTEN

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    Enrolledonce didn'tcomplete

    Enrolled 3times ormore didn'tcomplete

    some students enrolled in multiple courses without completing

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    Level of school education

    A factor that impacts significantly on a students performance and completion is their level of school education. Most TAFE NSW qualifications do not specify levels of school education as an entry requirement as TAFE NSW supports access for second chance learners with diverse life experience, knowledge and skills. However, all students in vocational courses need adequate functional literacy and numeracy skills as well as adult learning skills to manage the demands of vocational courses at AQF Certificate III level and above.

    Figure 4 below shows the level of school education by initial enrolment cohort for all 1519 year old Aboriginal students who first enrolled in 2005. As would be expected, the highest percentage of students with a Year 9 or below level of education (46 per cent) were initially enrolled in foundation skills programs.

    Figure 4: Percentage of Aboriginal students (1519 years) by level of school education and initial enrolment cohort

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Note: TVET students have not been included because they were all still at school. Students who did not state their level of prior education have also been excluded.

    In 2005, 49.5 per cent of 1519 year old Aboriginal students enrolled in AQF Certificate III level courses had completed Year 10.

    Over one third of 1519 year old students who enrolled in an AQF Certificate III level course in 2005 were undertaking an apprenticeship. Recent research7 indicates that more apprentices successfully complete their apprenticeship if they have attained Year 12. Also, it is difficult to gain an apprenticeship in tighter economic markets without completing Year 12 or equivalent of schooling.

    7 NCVER (2002), Outcomes and completions of New Apprenticeships, Research at a glance series, NCVER, Adelaide

    0

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    Year 9 or below Year 10 Year 11 Year 12

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    Sixty-two per cent of the 1519 year old students who completed AQF Certificate IV and above level qualifications between 2005 and 2010 had Year 10 or above as their highest level of schooling. This reinforces the idea that level of school education is a predictor of performance or completion.

    There is a similar pattern of initial course enrolment in relation to level of school education by the 2024 year old student cohort as shown in Figure 5.

    Figure 5: Percentage of Aboriginal students (2024 years) by level of school education and initial enrolment cohort

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Among the 2024 year old cohort, the largest number of students who enrolled in AQF Certificate III (40 per cent) or Certificate IV (68 per cent) had completed Year 12.

    Level of school education was also a good predictor of completions for the 2024 year old cohort. The majority (86 per cent) of 2024 year old students who completed an AQF Certificate IV and above level qualification reported they had completed Year 12 in 2005 when they first enrolled.

    A third of the 2024 year old students in the non-AQF cohort had Year 10 as their highest level of schooling. The range of non-AQF courses accessed by this group included specific employment related and licensing courses such as Responsible Service of Alcohol and Responsible Conduct of Gaming so individuals with a range of levels of school education could be expected to have accessed these courses for employment purposes.

    Aboriginal specific programs

    Enrolments and completions

    Students enrolled in Aboriginal specific programs were not a designated cohort that was tracked as part of the project, but analysis of initial course enrolments indicated that 146 Aboriginal students (1524 years of age) enrolled in 2005 in an Aboriginal specific program. Of this group 76 students (52 per cent) completed the course they originally enrolled in and 70 students (47 per cent) enrolled in another TAFE NSW program over the six year period.

    0

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    Foundation Non AQF Cert I or II Cert III Cert IV+

    Perc

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    Year 9 or below Year 10 Year 11 Year 12

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    Entry level Aboriginal specific programs are often delivered by TAFE NSW Institute Outreach or Access and General Education teaching areas. In most instances these programs are developed collaboratively with local Aboriginal communities and may be delivered in a community setting. This means students first experiences in TAFE NSW are more familiar and less intimidating than a TAFE campus. Such programs allow Aboriginal students to develop the skills and confidence to move into a foundation skills or vocational course on a campus.

    As well as enrolments in Aboriginal specific entry level programs (63 enrolments), students in both age cohorts enrolled in a range of targeted Aboriginal courses. These included courses such as the Diploma of Aboriginal Studies (7 enrolments) and courses for Aboriginal Education Assistants (9 enrolments), Aboriginal studies for specific industry sectors (8 enrolments), Aboriginal health assistants (6 enrolments), Aboriginal committee or mentor training (7 enrolments) or Aboriginal arts or performing arts programs (43 enrolments).

    Aboriginal specific programs are often co-delivered with community members. These programs help reinforce cultural identity and are aimed at community capacity building as well as providing specific employment outcomes or work related skills development for students.

    Several students enrolled in an Aboriginal language program in TAFE NSW in 2005 and there are now increased enrolments in Aboriginal language programs. The findings of the Round Two Consultations for the NSW Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs8 noted that participants agreed that speaking an Aboriginal language strengthens cultural identity. People consulted for this Review indicated that language learning should also not just be offered to school children but be offered to adults through community language centres or TAFE courses. It is noted that the 2013 NSW Government Plan for Aboriginal affairs will extend opportunities for Aboriginal students to learn an Aboriginal language9.

    8 Aboriginal Affairs (2012), Getting it right The findings of the Round Two Consultations for the NSW Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs, Office of Communities, NSW Department of Education and Communities 9 NSW Government (2013), OCHRE Opportunity, Choice, Healing, Responsibility, Empowerment: NSW Government Plan for Aboriginal affairs: education, employability and accountability

    Aboriginal specific programs reinforce cultural identity and community capacity building

    In brief: The highest number of Aboriginal student enrolments in 2005 was in foundation skills courses. Approximately 12 per cent of 1524 year old Aboriginal students who enrolled in TAFE NSW for the first time in

    2005 completed a qualification at Certificate III level or above over the six year period. The level of school education was a predictor of performance or completion. Aboriginal specific programs appeared to be a valuable entry point to other TAFE NSW course enrolments for

    some students.

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    Section 6: Enrolment and completion outcomes for specific cohorts of Aboriginal students: 20052010

    This section includes detailed enrolment and completions analysis for specific cohorts of Aboriginal students tracked as part of this project who enrolled in TAFE NSW for the first time in 2005.

    The information is grouped for students who first enrolled in:

    1. Foundation skills courses 2. AQF Certificate I or Certificate II level courses 3. AQF Certificate III level courses 4. AQF Certificate IV and above level courses 5. Non-AQF courses 6. TVET programs

    1. Foundation skills courses

    Enrolments

    Of the total of 3,014 Aboriginal students across both age groups (1524 years) whose enrolments and completions were tracked as part of the project, 1,324 students (43.9 per cent) first enrolled in a foundation skills qualification.

    This is not surprising given findings from the 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALLS) survey which revealed that 44 per cent of Australias working age population (around 6 million people) have literacy skills below Level 3, the level needed to meet the complex demands of work and life in modern economies. This equates to 40 per cent of employed Australians, 60 per cent of unemployed Australians and 70 per cent of those outside the labour force (ABS, 2006).

    Different types of foundation skills courses

    There is a range of courses and qualifications available under the heading foundation skills course (Table 3). Based on the qualification Aboriginal students initially enrolled in, they were seeking foundation skills development at different AQF levels.

    However, many students who enrolled in foundation skills programs accessed an introductory or pre-vocational type program to develop their employability skills (see category 1 in Table 3 below). Approximately 33 per cent of initial foundation skills enrolments by Aboriginal students (1519 years of age) and 40.3 per cent by Aboriginal students (2024 years of age) were in programs to develop employability skills.

    The next most significant group of Aboriginal students who enrolled in foundation skills programs were students seeking to develop their language, literacy and numeracy skills (see category 2 in Table 3 below). Approximately 30 per cent of student enrolments in both the 1519 year old cohort and the 2024 year old cohort were in these programs.

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    Another substantial group of students came to TAFE NSW to gain a School Certificate equivalent qualification (approximately 16 per cent of all 1524 year old foundation skills enrolments). Other Aboriginal students chose their initial enrolment to gain a Year 12 equivalent level qualification, either the Higher School Certificate (HSC) or the Tertiary Preparation Certificate (TPC).

    Aboriginal student enrolment patterns in foundation skills courses would possibly be different in 2011 because of the impact of changes to the school leaving age requirement that students remain at school until they either complete Year 10 or reach 17 years of age (whichever occurs first).

    In 2005, many high school students participated in a statewide TAFE NSW/DET partnership program involving older high school students gaining a short TAFE NSW literacy tutoring qualification to tutor younger students (category 6 in Table 3 below). As more than half of the students in this cohort were still at school or had Year 9 or below when they first enrolled, successful completion of this course may have represented a significant achievement along their pathway.

    Students also enrolled in targeted Aboriginal programs or a range of other access programs including mentoring skills development. Section 5 included further discussion about the role of Aboriginal specific programs.

    Table 3 below demonstrates the diversity of foundation skills enrolments by 1519 and 2024 year old students.

    Table 3: Enrolments for Aboriginal students (1524 years) in 2005 in foundation skills courses

    Foundation skills course type 1519 year olds 2024

    year olds

    1. Employability skills, career development, TAFE NSW introductory or pre-vocational courses (eg. Outreach access, WOW, CEEW) AQF Cert I or II level courses and below

    519 109

    2. LLN skills developmentAQF Cert I level courses and below 455 80

    3. Year 10 equivalent courses (eg. CGVE, CGVE prep) AQF Cert II level courses

    266 16

    4. Targeted Aboriginal programs (eg. Aboriginal vocational prep, Aboriginal access to further study, Aboriginal education assistants, Aboriginal studies)

    86 34

    5. Year 12 equivalent courses (eg. HSC studies, HSC prelim, Tertiary Preparation Course, further study courses) AQF Cert III or IV level courses

    76 22

    6. Literacy tutoring in schools 119 1

    7. Other 6 8

    Total 1,527* 270

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    *Note: Multiple enrolments are included so totals do not match those in Figure 1

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    Completions

    The study identified that of the group of 1,126, 1519 year olds who originally enrolled in a foundation skills course, 427 (37.9 per cent) did not complete any courses during the six years of the study. While relocation or enrolment with other RTOs could possibly account for outcomes for some students in this group, it is clear that the TAFE system failed a significant number of these students.

    Many students enrolled in subsequent foundation skills courses, which is consistent with the time it takes for individuals to consolidate their foundation skills to enable them to undertake a vocational course. However, 72 students (6.4 per cent) enrolled in between four and nine subsequent foundation skills courses following their initial course enrolment in 2005. More systematic career planning or goal setting for this group of students may have resulted in a better outcome.

    Qualification completions are summarised below for students from each age cohort who initially enrolled in a foundation skills course. Table 4 shows that there was little difference in outcomes for the two age cohorts. However, a little over half of the Aboriginal students who commenced in a foundation skills course completed at least one course (55.6 per cent for 1519 year olds and 55.1 per cent for 2024 year olds).

    Table 4: Enrolments and completions for Aboriginal students (1524 years), tracked during the project, enrolling for the first time in 2005 in foundation skills courses

    Foundation skills courses 1519 year olds 2024

    year old

    Number enrolled for the first time in 2005 1,126 198

    Number and percentage who completed at least one course at Certificate II or below

    626 (55.6%)

    109 (55.1%)

    Completed at least one course at Certificate III or above 73 (6.5%) 6

    (3.0%)

    Did not complete any courses 427 (37.9%) 83

    (41.9%) Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    A viable pathway for many students who first enrol in a foundation skills course, either as an orientation to the adult study environment or to develop literacy and numeracy skills, could be progression to an AQF Certificate II vocational course. Ideally, the delivery could include integrated literacy and numeracy support to allow students to develop contextualised literacy and numeracy skills and better equip them to access a higher AQF level course in their preferred vocational area.

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    2. AQF Certificate I or Certificate II level courses

    Enrolments

    There were lower overall enrolments of Aboriginal students in vocational AQF Certificate I or II level courses than in foundation skills courses, many of which are also at AQF Certificate I or II level.

    This trend appears to correlate with data about level of school education. Forty-six per cent of students (1519 year olds), who indicated they had Year 9 or below as their highest level of previous education, enrolled first in a foundation skills course. However, 50 per cent of the students (1519 year olds) who enrolled first in an AQF Certificate II level course had attained Year 10.

    Increasingly, there are few AQF Certificate I level vocational courses in Training Packages. Students are more likely to enrol in a skill set of Certificate I level units of competency within a pre-vocational course which may also include foundation skills development options.

    The majority of traineeship courses are at AQF Certificate II level. In 2005, there were 35 students aged 1519 years and 13 students aged 2024 years who identified as trainees on enrolment. Although these numbers may not reflect the actual numbers of Aboriginal trainees, as some students may not have identified as such, it is a comparatively low number. The total number of trainees in 2005 across TAFE NSW (all age groups and all stages) was 11,090 students.

    Table 5: Enrolments and completions for Aboriginal students (1524 years) enrolling for the first time in 2005 in a course at AQF Certificate I or II levels

    AQF Certificate I or II 1519 year olds 2024

    year olds

    Number enrolled for the first time in 2005 323 80

    Number and percentage who completed at least one course at Certificate II or below

    94 (29.0%)

    16 (20.0%)

    Completed at least one course at Certificate III or above 32 (9.9%) 10

    (12.5%)

    Did not complete any courses 197 (61.0%) 54

    (67.5%) Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Completions

    Table 5 shows that a relatively low percentage (9.9 per cent) of students (1519 years of age) who originally enrolled in an AQF Certificate I or II level course progressed to an AQF Certificate III or above level course.

    The success of pathways for disadvantaged students to a higher AQF level VET qualification is the subject of recent NCVER research10. The research showed that disadvantaged young people who complete an AQF Certificate

    10 Oliver, D. (2012), Lower-level qualifications as a stepping stone for young people, NCVER, Adelaide

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    I or II level qualification are more likely to go on to complete an apprenticeship. This confirms both the value of prevocational or pre-apprenticeship programs, which was demonstrated by Aboriginal students tracked in this study, and the need for an emphasis on completions.

    3. AQF Certificate III level courses

    Enrolments

    Many AQF Certificate III level qualifications are courses aligned to apprenticeships. In 2005, 115 of the Aboriginal students (1524 years of age) who enrolled in TAFE NSW for the first time identified as apprentices, approximately 34 per cent of Aboriginal students from this age group who initially enrolled in an AQF Certificate III level qualification.

    There was a lower number (only 19) of Aboriginal students (2024 years of age) who initially identified as apprentices in 2005, which is consistent with apprentices at that time tending to be predominately young school leavers.

    In 2005, there were 39,559 enrolments across TAFE NSW in courses related to apprenticeships (all ages and all stages of apprenticeships), however Aboriginal students appear to have made up a very small proportion of these enrolments.

    Apprenticeships and traineeships were a popular career destination for many successful students interviewed as part of the study. Some students who began in lower AQF level courses progressed to an apprenticeship program at AQF Certificate III level over the six years of the study. It is clear from the tracking data that many Aboriginal students who complete an AQF Certificate III level course do not enrol in any other higher AQF level courses. We can assume that an AQF Certificate III level completion, including completion of an apprenticeship, was the goal for these students.

    Completions

    Qualification completions for students who enrolled in 2005 in AQF Certificate III level qualifications were lower for both age cohorts than completions for students undertaking preparatory or lower AQF level courses. This is not surprising given the length and more demanding requirements of higher AQF level qualifications.

    Course completions for apprentices enrolled in AQF Certificate III level qualifications may also have been affected by negative factors relating to their employment.

    Table 6 summarises outcomes for the AQF Certificate III level cohort.

    Apprenticeships and traineeships a popular career destination for Aboriginal students

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    Table 6: Enrolments and completions for Aboriginal students (1524 years) enrolling for the first time in 2005 in a course at AQF Certificate III level

    AQF Certificate III 1519 year olds 2024

    year olds

    Number of students who enrolled for the first time in 2005 337 72

    Students who completed at least one course at Certificate III or above

    94 (27.9%)

    29 (40.2%)

    Students who did not complete any courses 198 (58.8%) 34

    (47.2%)

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Note: A small number of students from both age cohorts who commenced in an AQF Certificate III level course completed a course at a lower AQF level over the six year period.

    4. AQF Certificate IV level and above courses

    Enrolments

    Table 7 shows that in 2005, there was a relatively low level of initial enrolments (70 enrolments or 2.8 per cent of the cohort) by Aboriginal students from the school leaver (1519 year old) cohort in higher AQF level qualifications (Certificate IVAdvanced Diploma) courses.

    This is in stark contrast to enrolment patterns of young people from the broader population where traditionally a high percentage of school leavers enrol directly in TAFE NSW Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas. In 2005 approximately 10,900 students aged 1519 years enrolled in an AQF Diploma level or above course which was approximately 25 per cent of all TAFE NSW enrolments at Diploma and above level in that year.

    Most students enrolling in TAFE NSW in Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas have attained their Higher School Certificate of equivalent. Over the period of the study (20052010), there were low numbers of Aboriginal students in the school leaver age group who had attained their HSC. Aboriginal students with an HSC may have enrolled in higher education or sought employment straight from school.

    Completions

    Twenty five 1519 year old students (35.7 per cent) who enrolled in AQF Certificate IV or above level qualifications gained a qualification at AQF Certificate III level or above over the six years.

    There were particularly poor completion results for older students (2024 years of age) enrolled in AQF Certificate IV and above level courses (4.9 per cent). Students in this group, especially older students, who may be employed and studying part time, or those with family responsibilities need regular support to ensure they are coping with the demands of study. Further investigation would be valuable to discover the issues facing non-completers in AQF Certificate IV and above level courses and whether there has been a change in these figures in the current context where TAFE NSW Institutes have more focus on and targets to improve outcomes.

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    Table 7: Enrolments and completions for Aboriginal students (1524 years) enrolling for the first time in 2005 in a course at AQF Certificate IV level or above

    AQF Certificate IV and above 1519

    year olds 2024

    year olds

    Number of students who enrolled for the first time in 2005 70 61 Students who completed at least one course at Certificate III or above

    25 (35.7%)

    21 (34.4%)

    Students who did not complete any courses 39 (55.7%) 37

    (60.7%) Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Note: A small number of students from both age cohorts who commenced in an AQF Certificate IV+ level course completed a course at a lower AQF level over the six year period.

    5. Non-AQF courses

    Enrolments and completions

    There were 539 Aboriginal student (1524 years of age) enrolments in 2005 in non-AQF courses, making this cohort the second highest number of enrolments after foundation skills courses.

    Students (1519 year olds) who originally enrolled in a non-AQF course comprised the cohort with the highest proportion of students who completed at least one course (308 of the 398 students, or 77.4 per cent).

    Non-AQF courses include short programs or skill sets in specific industry areas so it is unsurprising they have a high level of completion. However, it is worth noting that 143 (36 per cent) of these students progressed to qualifications at AQF Certificate III and above over the six year period so short industry skills programs may be raising students awareness about the industry area or encouraging them to enrol in a higher AQF level qualification such as an apprenticeship.

    A significant number of the 1519 year old students who first enrolled in non-AQF courses were still at school. The non-AQF course with the most completions by this group was the General Construction OH&S Induction, which is not only a requirement for working in the industry but, for school students, may contribute to completion of the HSC.

    Some courses undertaken by this group which had high initial enrolments were Responsible Service of Alcohol (115 enrolments), Responsible Conduct of Gaming, General Construction OH&S Induction (154 enrolments), Senior First Aid (35 enrolments), Workplace Hygiene (Food Handlers) (25 enrolments), Chainsaw Operations (26 enrolments) or SMARTtrain Chemical Application Refresher (19 enrolments).

    Completion of many of these courses is an initial requirement prior to employment or work experience placement in specific industries so it is not surprising that many of the Aboriginal students tracked in the study followed this initial enrolment with further VET study.

    I started with the Barista course and enjoyed it so decided to do hospitality. I was offered and accepted employment.

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    6. TVET programs

    Two hundred and eight (8.4 per cent) of the Aboriginal students (1519 year olds) whose TAFE NSW pathways were tracked initially enrolled in a TVET program. Just over one third (38 per cent, n=79) completed at least one subsequent course, and 90 (43 per cent) progressed to courses at AQF Certificate III level and above over the six year period. Twenty-eight students (13 per cent) in this cohort enrolled again in 2011 to continue their studies, 18 of them in qualifications at AQF Certificate III level and above.

    TVET programs appear to provide Aboriginal students with an introduction to TAFE NSW and vocational study that improves their chances of completing higher AQF level VET programs. However, this group of students intends to complete Year 12 which would also influence their chances of success. TVET students have the advantage of both completing their HSC and being introduced to VET.

    In brief: Aboriginal students who enrolled in foundation skills courses had different learning goals including

    development of employability or literacy and numeracy skills or gaining an equivalent Year 10 or Year 12 qualification.

    Approximately 56 per cent of 1524 year old Aboriginal students who enrolled in TAFE NSW for the first time in 2005 completed at least one course.

    Apprenticeships were a popular training and career pathway for many students. There was a low level of initial enrolments by Aboriginal students in the school leaver age group in AQF

    Diploma or Advanced Diploma level courses. Non-AQF courses can provide a good entry point for Aboriginal students to further education and training

    with many students subsequently enrolling in other qualifications.

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Section 7: What worked for successful Aboriginal students

    This section is based on data collected during the 77 student interviews, therefore it represents the views of students who successfully completed a qualification at AQF Certificate III level or above during the period 20052010. It also includes the views of Aboriginal support staff collected through two focus groups. Individual snapshots of particularly successful students are included to illustrate the dynamic and diverse pathways that students undertake.

    The information is structured in sections which reflect the key themes that emerged from the qualitative research. Themes are summarised in Figure 6 below.

    Figure 6: Factors which impact on Aboriginal student pathways: themes emerging from the data

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    7.1 Student expectations and motivation

    (What matters is) kids having an interest. Knowing this is what they want to do. They need knowledge of where they are going and what is

    involved. Focus Group 2

    TAFE NSW students have many different expectations of and motivations to study which impact on their choice of a particular course or qualification. Students expectations vary considerably according to their age, previous level of education, socio-economic background, area of interest and employment aspirations.

    Study choice

    Aboriginal students were asked why they decided to come to study a VET course at TAFE NSW.

    The most common theme that emerged (from 73.5 per cent of students) was about gaining employment in an area of their interest (42 per cent), as well as a qualification (31.5 per cent). Students also cited practical reasons including affordable prices, fee exemptions and course flexibility.

    To gain a formal qualification to gain a job, due to not doing very well at school.

    Had studied at Ultimo TAFE previously before studying at North Coast TAFE. They had the course that I needed to do to get my trade

    qualification, and allowed me to work while I did it.

    Many students also said that through studying they wanted to build their self-esteem and confidence in their ability to complete a course successfully and gain employment. One student said:

    Being happy within yourself that you have accomplished as much as you could to move yourself forward in any situation is important.

    Students were asked why they chose the course they studied. The majority of students stated that they chose a course because it was career or employment related. A smaller proportion stated that they chose the course as a pathway to university or further studies. Other students spoke of their goal to go back to study and gain a higher level of school education, either to complete a Year 10 or Year 12 certificate. These views are reflected in the statements below.

    Trade is always good; started as a trade assistant and then came to TAFE as a mature student. I gained confidence as I did well in exams and

    kept my employment. Enjoyed the study.

    I wanted to develop my musical skills, work towards my goal of working in the music industry, and get some tertiary education in the field.

    To get my Year 10, at my age, to help me with personal belief and acknowledge my culture, get good self-esteem and I had an interest in

    further study.

    Gaining employment was the most common reason for doing a VET course

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Some students had a clear idea of what they wanted to study at TAFE NSW. A number of students interviewed expressed this.

    To be a carpenter was my childhood dream.

    Many students, particularly young school leavers, tend to select a course without having a clear career goal11. Sometimes they need to enrol in something to meet Centrelink requirements or choose to study with peers.

    There were people in the class that didnt want to be there they were there to keep the job networks and Centrelink off their backs. I found it

    distracting.

    Often young people make decisions not based on an actual qualification. It might be more about what their friend is doing or which teacher they

    want to learn with but, regardless, its good that they are learning. Focus Group 1

    Career planning

    Discussion that emerged from both focus groups emphasised the importance of both long and short term goal setting. Participants emphasised the importance of students having an interest in their chosen career and setting achievable goals.

    Upfront setting of goals, both short and long term goals are important. Short term goals are about the actual training, long term goals need to be

    able to see the bigger picture/ where the course will lead. Need achievable goals.

    Focus Group 1

    Whilst engagement in some form of post-school education is considered a valuable activity for Aboriginal students, it is important that all students are placed in the appropriate course for their level of schooling, skills and background. It is also important that students are able to access clear and reliable course information, as well as information about course expectations and estimated workload. This information helps students to make an informed choice about the most relevant course to meet their interests, goals, skills and aptitude.

    Students indicated they were seeking advice and direction about their choice of course. They may be searching for a course that aligns with their skill level and interests and will lead to employment.

    I didnt finish high school so adult learning was an option I wanted to take up. Not knowing what I wanted to do with my life,

    I tried many courses.

    A TAFE NSW Aboriginal staff member cautioned that all staff members need to support students in making a good personal choice based on the students skill level and career goals rather than making a quick judgement or a decision based on administrative expediency.

    11 TAFE NSW (2011), Getting clever about completions: Increasing TAFE NSW qualification completions

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    Sometimes they (the students) are slotted into classes we believe they would be good at or even into courses we are running to fill them up. If we

    do that they are likely to get bored and drop out. Focus Group 2

    While for some students exploration is a necessary part of their journey, for others individual mentoring and career support at transition points along the pathway may provide a better outcome.

    Better tracking or follow up of all Aboriginal students, particularly those enrolled for the first time, may improve VET outcomes for Aboriginal students.

    Adult learning environment

    Students were asked what they expected when they first came to TAFE NSW. Nineteen per cent of participants mentioned that they expected to be treated as an adult in a respectful learning environment.

    Some of these responses also contrasted with students perceptions of their high school environment. Some cited discrimination or disrespect as a reason that they left high school. Others appreciated the autonomous learning style and having a personal interest in the subject. Students valued:

    To be treated differently and a mature learning experience.

    Not sure on what I expected I think it was to be treated nice by the teachers at TAFE, not like school. To make some other friends.

    A self-motivated, adult learning environment.

    I knew or hoped it would be better than school, and it was.

    Other students said that they expected cultural respect, while some were glad to see more Aboriginal students studying with them:

    Multicultural understanding and respect both ways.

    To see more black people on campus made me feel comfortable obviously helped me to complete the course.

    The value of preparatory courses

    Students who had initially undertaken a TVET or pre-vocational course were positive about its value in providing a better understanding of what is involved in a particular vocational course, the workload involved and career options in the industry area.

    TVET and pre-voc give an introduction to courses Lets you know what you are in for and if you will like it.

    Pre-trade or pre-voc is a great way to bridge between school and TAFE.

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    The BVET research project, A Fair Deal (2011) focused on strategies to improve outcomes for apprentices. It identified the importance of apprentices having an understanding of what is involved in the course prior to enrolment. Preparatory courses can provide Aboriginal students with this required background and an idea of where the course will lead.

    The features of preparatory type programs referred to by students in the study as providing learning experiences to better inform their vocational choices are summarised below.

    Taster programs

    Taster programs are short practical workshops or hands-on training sessions to give potential students a taste of what the particular course or industry area involves. TAFE NSW Institutes work with local school communities to provide a wide range of taster programs to allow school students to make more informed career choices. Opportunities provided through these programs are particularly important for Aboriginal students who may not have ready access to career information or family and community members who can provide advice about what particular VET courses involve.

    TVET programs

    VET in Schools programs have multiple aims. They introduce students to some of the career options available through VET. They provide an opportunity to experience the world of work directly. These programs improve school retention by engaging students, who might otherwise leave or be disengaged, in practical learning options and provide a pathway that can lead to a full VET qualification.

    Foundation skills programs

    Foundation skills courses allow students to develop adult learning skills, adapt to the TAFE environment and begin investigating career options. They include skills development in language, literacy and numeracy, as well as employability skills and relevant vocational units of competency, so students can start to engage in vocational training and understand what is involved.

    Non-AQF courses

    Non-AQF qualifications include Accredited Short Courses and Statements of Attainment, TAFE Statements and TAFE PLUS courses. While these courses are not full qualifications under the Australian Qualifications Framework, many of them are required by industry (skill sets or licensing requirements) and may have direct employment outcomes. They provide students with a taste of what is involved in particular industry areas.

    In brief: Aboriginal students benefit from:

    taster or introductory programs available pre-course to help inform course choice goal setting and career planning from start of TAFE pathway access to initial career advice and continuing information available during the course good information upfront about course outcomes.

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    7.2 The learning experience

    The (right) course and the TAFE location, and people I metincluding the teacherswere pivotal to me gaining employment, learning about life

    in general and growing up as an individual.

    This section includes information about specific courses taken by Aboriginal students included in the study, their observations about aspects of their learning experience and the impact this had on their success. It is clear from students feedback that what they were looking for at TAFE NSW was a package of features which allowed them to succeed, including a nurturing learning environment, clear pathways to employment or further learning and targeted support when they needed it. In previous TAFE NSW-commissioned research this was referred to as the complete package12.

    Students reported that they valued their prior education (Year 10 or Year 12) and commented on how school completion had increased their self-motivation, determination and goal setting:

    High school helped with success especially maths side of studyyou need to finish if youre going to start.

    It took courage and determination from myself, compassion and understanding from teachers.

    The value of the teacher

    I thought it might be boring but the teacher made even the dullest subjects come alive.

    Students were asked what they liked best about their course and the theme that emerged most commonly (57 per cent) related to the actions of teachers. Many students when answering this question stated that the quality, enthusiasm, encouragement and support of their teachers really helped them to complete.

    The importance of teacher attributes are highlighted in students comments included below. They focused on how much they value teachers encouraging and helping them to grow as individuals and tailoring learning by offering support on an individual basis.

    The teachers:

    Were pivotal to me gaining employment, learning about life in general and growing as an individual.

    Have been great in the way they have approached their teaching towards Indigenous students in a culturally sensitive way that they learnt

    how Indigenous students needed to be taught.

    Had experience in their skill area, not just text book stuff. They told us about real life experience on the job.

    12 Allen Consulting Group (2006), The Complete Package: The value of TAFE NSW

    the teachers role is pivotal

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Provided compassion and understanding. I was 80 per cent out the door when the first lot of assessments were due in the first semester but I

    emailed the teachers and they allowed me to submit late and from then on it made me keep on track of my studies.

    Fitted in with the boys and he had the support of the Elders and community. There were two teachers in the classroom too.

    Were really accessible and students could contact teacher outside of class time so people didnt feel shame to ask questions. Learning

    environment was safe.

    The learning environment

    Students were asked what they liked best about their experience. The most popular response (35 per cent) was that the students really enjoyed learning, particularly when the learning style was focused on practical or hands-on learning.

    Overall I like to learn and when offered to do training and different courses I find relevant and are going to help me in my working future I

    take that on board.

    Students valued having an applied learning environment and being given a choice in their study pattern, such as one day study/four days of work or block release study. They were positive about:

    The hands-on approach was good not text book theory.

    Learning materials were relevant to work.

    Use of technology when I had none.

    TAFE is known to train the tradies.

    Access to the learning environment

    Students indicated the need for more options for training in more remote areas. Barriers related to travel were a common theme raised by students.

    It was a pain to travel and I had no money for travel.

    An overall issue is that (the campus) is a lot out of the way and is very inconvenient due to travel time and fuel cost, some fuel vouchers would

    be great and the cost for a bus there and back is fairly high considering other prices elsewhere.

    The loss of my licence meant that I had to rely a lot on the Mrs, family and whoever else, like my boss. I found this really difficult. It made me

    feel dependant on others and unreliable. When we first moved to Wagga we relied on public transport but the hours dont suit tradespeople.

    Flexible delivery is increasingly a viable solution for many TAFE NSW students to reduce travel and allow students, especially those who are employed, to study at their own pace. Few students interviewed commented on their experience in a flexible or online learning environment.

    a practical, hands-on learning style was important

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    Flexible learning options can create additional barriers for Aboriginal students who need easy access to technology as well as competent digital literacy skills and confidence in the use of flexible materials, particularly online materials.

    A number of students commented on the value of self-paced learning but also cautioned on the additional support needs of students in a more flexible learning context:

    I moved into self-paced as preferred learning. I could do it in my own time although I lost motivation.

    Financial considerations

    Students also commented on the importance of providing fee exemptions so they can easily access learning opportunities. Most of the students interviewed stated that they could not have completed their qualification if it werent for the fee exemption provided to Aboriginal students. Others said that it would have been helpful if there was also financial assistance available or subsidies for purchasing textbooks, equipment and stationery.

    [The exemption] definitely helped; couldn't afford fees but exemption solved that. I couldn't afford to do the course or have current job if I had

    to pay.

    The value of work experience/work related study

    Students supported the role that work experience played in their TAFE NSW program, both as a reality check that they were in their area of interest, and as a way of relating the theoretical aspects of the course to real life employment.

    The majority of students interviewed who successfully completed a qualification at Certificate III level and above (60 per cent) said that their course included work experience, and agreed that it was useful. It also helped them to make decisions about their future career options:

    It helped me a lot to get my head around the course.

    It made what I was learning in class relevant and easier to understand.

    The work experience showed me that I had done the wrong course, so I did a Business Administration Cert III which I also passed.

    Yes, as we were able to be employed as soon as we finished our certificate, if not before. Also I feel it was necessary to gain the experience.

    Students indicated they valued having an apprenticeship or traineeship to better understand the demands of their occupation or industry area. They commented on the attraction of apprenticeships as they provide employment while studying, a practical focus which relates to work, a clear career path and the opportunity for self-employment.

    fee exemptions are critical for Aboriginal students

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    In brief: Aboriginal students benefit from:

    preparatory programs which provide an orientation to TAFE NSW (and foundation skills where needed) the chance to set achievable goals accessible, knowledgeable and practical teachers who are closely linked to the workplace teachers with good cultural understanding who are enthusiastic and encouraging practical, hands-on courses linked to employment opportunities integrated language, literacy and numeracy support where needed work experience as part of the course (where relevant).

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    7.3 Support services

    Individual support

    Nineteen per cent of students interviewed were positive about the extra support they received from the Aboriginal unit, a teacher or a family member. They said this support made a considerable difference to their success and completion.

    Information about available support services is often provided to students in the initial stages of the course when they are overwhelmed and dealing with a new environment. It is important that students are reminded of available services throughout their course, as their needs can change at different stages of their study.

    Felt isolated to start with, felt frustrated due to not knowing about the learning process (no concept), angry at self for not knowing how to learn,

    felt I didnt belong, low finances made it hard especially when trying to acquire Information Technology equipment, life stopped while I studied. I

    didnt know the campus environment to know what was on offer in the way of support.

    In many instances Aboriginal students are enrolled in mainstream classes and rely on support from class teachers:

    I had very good teachers, as the only Aboriginal student, it was really a mainstream experience.

    I had tutoring for drawing from my teacher which was unreal. He didnt stint on helping, he was awesome. I was the only Aboriginal student in

    the class.

    However, Aboriginal students experience of support and understanding from teachers is not uniform. Some students noted their teachers lack of awareness with issues they were facing which impacted on their learning:

    Teachers are sometimes not aware of some students personal circumstances and how this might be impacting on their work and their

    assessment deadlines.

    Ensuring that Aboriginal students have a significant other who checks on them especially in the early stages of the course is important. This may be a member of the Institutes Aboriginal unit, a designated mentor, a class teacher or learner support teacher.

    A more systematic method of linking all Aboriginal students to someone who acts as their significant other could help keep track of students, identify when they are struggling and provide advocacy and referral to internal and external support services as the student requires.

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Having a mentor or buddy was identified by one interviewed student as a strategy to better support Aboriginal students finding it hard to commit to and successfully complete their studies. The student noted that the mentor or buddy needs to be:

    A friendly person, not necessarily Aboriginal someone that can be seen as a good role model to provide that extra bit of support.

    Students commented on how their mentors had supported them:

    Having the right teachers teach the subjects and courses knowing their stuff, being flexible, culturally sensitive, not assuming we all learn in

    the same way. And working with students one-on-one making sure they were on track. And overall support from Aboriginal unit, teachers and

    fellow students.

    [Having] someone to help when youre struggling, keep you motivated.

    TVET was a great introduction. We started with 30 Aboriginal students which went down to two students. We both came from a home

    environment where education was supported and encouraged. That helped.

    The final quote in the group above captures the key challenge for teachers. Not all students have the same educational background or have access to a supportive environment so it is up to teachers and support staff to fill the gap to help create a level playing field for all TAFE NSW Aboriginal students.

    Focus group participants suggested that mentoring needed to be ongoing, and course information and material needs to be broken down to students to make them understandable and achievable. One participant said that:

    Through school, some students dont have any role model. If we can give them good role models they can move along.

    Focus Group 1

    While not part of this study, TAFE NSWHunter Institute has developed an innovative program to build the cultural competencies of its workforce, Building Cultural Competencies: The Message Stick Way13. The program was developed as a collaboration between Hunter Institutes Purrimaibahn Aboriginal Education and Training Unit, the Institutes workforce development unit and the local Aboriginal community. The program includes online material and opportunities for staff to interact in sessions facilitated by an Aboriginal project officer. Other Institutes have similar programs.

    13 NSW Department of Education and Communities (2012), Building Cultural Competencies: The Message Stick Way

    Aboriginal students benefit from a significant other who checks on them regularly

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    Promotion of support services

    Students offered a wide range of suggestions for improvement during the interviews, with one theme dominant: better promotion of Aboriginal services and more Aboriginal specific support for Aboriginal students. Many students who received tutoring reported that it made all the difference in helping them complete. Other students reported that they enrolled several times or were quite far into their study before finding out that Aboriginal Student Support Officers (ASSOs) were there to help.

    Lack of knowledge about available support services is reported by many TAFE students despite all students being given this information on enrolment. These messages need to be reinforced throughout the course, particularly when the first assessments hit.

    I didnt know there was an ASSO and the services were on offer until this year when I received an info letter in the mail. It needs to be promoted

    more.

    It was good to have this [the Aboriginal Unit] but it was not as noticeable there is one day [per week] when an Indigenous worker

    has an office at the campus.

    Focus group participants also talked about how to make students more aware about the availability of support services some staff said the way they did this was to send out a welcome letter to all Aboriginal TAFE NSW students at the beginning of their study, and continually work with the teaching sections about any issues that arise:

    We try and visually remind students about services, we have lots of posters, awareness is very important. Its also important that there are

    Aboriginal people about that they can talk to. They need to know where to go for support.

    Focus Group 2

    Support for apprentices and trainees

    NSW State Training Services (STS) Aboriginal staff reinforced the need to support Aboriginal apprentices including liaison with employers, workplace supervisors, employment services providers staff and other stakeholders. Staff highlighted the need for apprentices and workplace staff to be clear about the requirements of the Training Plan and to ensure the apprentice has adequate support in the workplace. Staff explain the training arrangement and conditions with the apprentices or trainees, and explain to them what they need to do in order to complete the qualification.

    NSW STS Aboriginal staff emphasised the need to assess apprentices language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills upfront to ensure they had the capacity to complete the study and participate fully in the workplace.

    Where students require LLN support this needs to be organised as early as possible in the apprenticeship. They also noted the need to liaise with TAFE NSW on learning issues before things break down. Early intervention is critical to ensure Aboriginal students have the best chance of completing their apprenticeships.

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Peer support

    Other aspects that students rated highly as support mechanisms were forming friendships, class interaction, group learning, and the class environment. About a quarter of students (24 per cent) rated highly the social or community aspects of studying at TAFE NSW, either forming friendships or working in groups.

    I met a lot of friends that I am still in touch with, I like my job now and I am building on my skills with new courses.

    Class turned into a family atmosphere.

    Meeting new friends and getting an education was great.

    Part of the learning community

    Students also wanted to feel welcomed in a new environment.

    I would have liked to feel a bit more comfortable so that the transition into studying was not such a different thing. I am black, therefore my

    usual surroundings are of being in the presence of other black peopleI feel if there were a more comfortable feel to studying, there may be less

    dropouts and more enrolments.

    Many students felt that they were not as comfortable studying as they would have liked, because they were not studying with enough other Aboriginal students.

    Several students mentioned that they felt like a minority and they felt disempowered studying among the mainstream. A sense of community and belonging was very important to them and their success. These findings were echoed in the focus group discussions, where several Aboriginal support officers from different TAFE NSW campuses mentioned the importance of cultural comfort. They also mentioned the importance of cultural awareness training for teachers and other TAFE NSW staff, so they would better understand the family or other issues a student may be facing and how best to support them.

    Students recommended ways of improving Aboriginal students sense of belonging such as orientation sessions or initial course delivery in a community setting could help ease students entry into a TAFE NSW campus.

    Get specialised tutors in the areas of study in which the students are studying.

    Have opportunities where Indigenous students can interact between each campus.

    Encourage students to attend Indigenous workshops and Interagency meetings to get them networking and skilled.

    Provide more tutorials on campus or in towns for Aboriginal people i.e. in community centres so people can get general help with their courses off

    campus in hours when people can access them.

    A sense of community and belonging was very important to students and their success

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    Some students commented on feeling disempowered by negative attitudes from other students.

    Being a part of a minority group is already disempowering and this makes you uncomfortable especially if youre in a large class with many

    other different views. I was fed up with hearing other peoples uneducated views and I wanted to quit. You can only take so much

    criticism of your people when trying to break down a barrier. That in itself is hard enough.

    A student interviewed as part of the project (see Student snapshot #1 below) said that all the courses he had chosen to take were customised for Aboriginal students. What he liked most was being in a specifically tailored Aboriginal class, where he felt as if he belonged, and this motivated him to study and achieve his goals.

    Student Snapshot #1

    Student: Leslie Williams Pathway: Cert I/Cert II and above pathway Location: TAFE NSWRiverina Institute (Narrandera campus) Completed courses:

    Cert I in Construction Cert II in Construction Cert III in Carpentry.

    Leslie finished Year 10 in 1999. For 6 years after he finished Year 10, he felt he didnt really have a direction or purpose in life, and this is what made him think about TAFE. He first enrolled in a Certificate I in Construction. Since completing his first course, he has completed further studies in construction as well as carpentry. Today he is proud to say that he owns his own business and employs apprentices.

    The great thing about the course is that it was Aboriginal specific.

    All the boys were picked up first thing in the morning so transport was not a problem. This made the course easy to access and there was no excuse not to turn up, especially when that bus was pulling up out the

    front to your house, and they would wait.

    I liked it because it was just for Aboriginal people, because I dont feel comfortable in the mainstream, I wasnt confident and I was worried

    about being laughed out. This was my experience.

    In brief: Aboriginal students benefit from:

    a sympathetic learning environment and opportunities to interact with other Aboriginal students information about specific Aboriginal support services provided upfront and available throughout the course a regular systematic check in by a trusted support person (teacher, Aboriginal staff member, peer).

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    7.4 Employment

    Providing training is only the beginning. There are becoming a large number of qualified Aboriginals with no jobs. This is mainly caused by the funding available for training but no continuation after completion of the

    training. Focus group 1

    Employment outcomes

    Aboriginal students identified that employment was an important outcome for them. Many students thought that TAFE NSW should work to connect students more closely with employers. This can happen through TAFE NSW offering courses that align with local job opportunities and linking students to workplaces through work experience and on-the-job training.

    As previously outlined in this section, work experience plays a critical role in ensuring that students can test their skills on-the-job and assess whether the vocational area is right for them.

    Similarly for students who are employed in a particular area, study can become more meaningful. Students who had done their training on-the-job said they had found it very helpful. They reported that they could use the skills they were learning and that employment helped to motivate them. It made them take training seriously and kept them interested.

    Partnerships with companies that ensure jobs after completion of a course will successfully boost the progress, not only qualifications, but

    more importantly employment.

    Making sure that career and employment advice and referrals are available for all Aboriginal students while they are studying at TAFE and

    on completion of their course would be valuable.

    Students were asked if their course assisted them in gaining employment. The majority of students (82 per cent) said that their course did assist them in gaining employment. They commented on how important it is for a course to have a study to employment transition built into it, and felt that this was one of the main reasons why they were motivated to study at TAFE NSW.

    Under the NSW Government Plan for Aboriginal affairs14, local Opportunity Hubs will be established to coordinate employment and training opportunities for Aboriginal young people. The Hubs will also broker partnerships with local businesses, industry leaders, non-government organisations and local government and establish stronger links between local schools and TAFE NSW. This Plan emphasises the importance of pathways that lead to real jobs.

    14 NSW Government (2013), OCHRE Opportunity, Choice, Healing, Responsibility, Empowerment: NSW Government Plan for Aboriginal affairs: education, employability and accountability

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    The link between work and study

    Successful students were asked whether they had a job while they were studying, and if this made it easier or harder for them.

    Almost three quarters (67 per cent) said that being employed while studying made it easier for them to complete. The main reasons they gave were the complementary on and off-the-job learning, the study time granted by their employer, no transport issues and the ability to cover living costs more easily while studying.

    Ninety per cent of students interviewed who identified as an apprentice or trainee indicated that being an apprentice or a trainee made their study easier due to the capacity to learn skills related to their course on-the-job. They also mentioned the financial independence gained from being able to work while studying in the same field.

    Students commented on the value of working while studying as the training related directly to their work:

    Yes I was a rigger, I found it easier as I was already in the industry and was motivated to learn and complete the certificate. I was there because I

    chose to be, so I took it seriously and made the most of it.

    Over the six year period (20052010), employed 1524 year old students completed a greater number of higher level qualifications than those not in employment.

    Figure 7: Percentage of completions by Aboriginal students (1524 years) in 20052010 in AQF Certificate III level courses and above by employment status

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Note: Some students did not state their employment status so figure does not add to 100%.

    TAFE NSW provides training to organisations which employ Aboriginal staff. These workers have benefitted from a customised approach where the training aligns to their work.

    0.05.0

    10.015.020.025.030.035.040.045.050.0

    Employed (F/T) Employed (P/T) Not employed seeking work

    Not employed not seeking work

    % of

    com

    plet

    ions

    Employment status over 6 year period

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    One student noted the value of studying in a familiar context with workmates:

    What helped me complete was my own personal drive, a brilliant teacher and 40 fellow employees going through together in two classes.

    Student snapshot #2 below describes one students pathway through TAFE NSW courses which culminated in her completing an AQF Certificate IV course with her Aboriginal work colleagues through workplace delivery at LinkUp15.

    Student snapshot #2

    Student: Heidi-Anne Bradshaw Pathway: Foundation skills pathway Location: TAFE NSWWestern Sydney Institute (Blue Mountains campus) Completed courses:

    Adult Literacy Tutoring (foundation skills course), 2005 Aboriginal Alcohol and Other Drugs (Non-AQF), 2006 Outreach Access (SOA), 2007 Cert IV in Child Youth & Family Intervention, 2010 Diploma of Community Services Work, 2012

    Heidi-Anne Bradshaw began her journey at TAFE NSW in 2005 with a foundation skills adult tutoring course. Between 2005 and 2012, she completed a number of courses relating to community services. Heidi commenced the Certificate IV in Child Youth & Family Intervention because it was offered as part of a pilot program while working at the organisation LinkUp, and where training and assessment were completed at the workplace. After this Heidi went on to complete the Diploma of Community Social Work.

    I got a lot of satisfaction out of seeing my Aboriginal co-workers receiving qualifications.

    One of my co-workers was in her 40s and this was the first time she had ever had the chance to receive a formal qualification. It had a massive impact on her confidence with her work. Her whole family

    came to the graduation and it was really special.

    In my industry we have a lot of Aboriginal people not qualified (formally), but they are teaching other staff with their life experience.

    They have skills that could be transferable into qualifications, but just sometimes lack the opportunity for that to happen.

    15 LinkUp is an organisation in the upper Blue Mountains of NSW that works with Aboriginal people who were separated from their families as children.

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    Employment + training not an option for all

    Students acknowledged the burden of trying to juggle work, study, family commitments and travel. Several employed students commented on the value of external or flexibly delivered programs especially those designed specifically for the workplace.

    A small proportion of students reported that they were not working while studying, and of these, one said it was easier due to child care responsibilities, although others noted the financial difficulties they experienced due to receiving no income.

    Over the six year period 20052010, more unemployed students (54.1 per cent including job seekers and non-seekers) completed their qualifications than employed students (including full-time and part-time) as shown in Figure 8 below. However, this was not the case for students enrolled in higher level AQF qualifications as reported earlier in this section.

    Given the significant number of tracked students who initially enrolled in lower AQF level foundation skills course or an AQF Certificate I or II level course we could hypothesise that many of these unemployed students required increased foundation and employability skills development prior to gaining work.

    Figure 8: Percentage of completions by Aboriginal students (1524 years) in 20052010 by employment status

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Note: Some students did not state their employment status so figure does not add to 100%.

    The most common barrier identified to completing training (16 per cent) was lack of time to balance work, study and family/home-life commitments.

    Lack of time due to work commitments. Trying to complete assessment tasks for five different classes which were all due to be submitted around the

    same period meant some assessment tasks took precedence over others.

    My own personal issues and also lack of parent time with children.

    0.0

    5.0

    10.0

    15.0

    20.0

    25.0

    30.0

    35.0

    40.0

    Employed (F/T) Employed (P/T) Not employed:seeking work

    Not employed: notseeking work

    % of

    com

    plet

    ions

    Employment status over 6 year period

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    In addition to time management issues, students highlighted other external barriers such as difficult personal circumstances, family commitments and housing issues.

    Although these barriers are external to the learning context, they impact on students capacity to study so it helps if teachers and other support staff are aware of students circumstances and can refer them to other community agencies for support.

    Examining the situational barriers these students face also gives us insight into the issues that they have overcome:

    I was working at the time as a cleaner at my local aged care facility. My boss suggested I enrol in TAFEso I did. I liked it allalthough it was

    sometimes hard to balance the job, kids and study, I coped with it.

    Sometimes it got too much but I had a lot of supportthis wasnt my first attempt... I was enrolled in a youth work course before but I fell

    pregnant and it was by distance.

    I dropped out to have my first baby but when I was ready I went back to work.

    I have held my job since then, through three babiesmy fourth baby is on the way (in fact due tomorrow!).

    Aboriginal students who have reached their career goals and are now employed or employing others are in the best position to advise or mentor new Aboriginal students in their industry area.

    Now I am running my own business and am really proud to say that I have my own apprentice and I hope to employ ten more I am happy to participate in this interview because TAFE has done so much for me and I

    really appreciate it and I want to give back.

    Many TAFE NSW Institutes have established alumni organisations. There may be value in establishing a TAFE NSW Aboriginal student alumni program both as a means of providing role models for younger students but also as a way for TAFE NSW graduates to continue networking in their industry area and promoting employment and workplace learning opportunities for graduates.

    In brief: Aboriginal students benefit from:

    courses linked to employment opportunities work-based delivery linked to employment a good learning option for many employed Aboriginal students more flexible delivery options and support these help students juggle employment, study and personal

    commitments.

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    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Section 8: Student pathways

    Tracking Aboriginal student pathways (20052010) provides insight into the more common pathways taken by the 360 students (288, 1519 year olds and 72, 2024 year olds) who enrolled in TAFE NSW for the first time in 2005 and completed qualifications at AQF Certificate III or above between 2005 and 2010. Data included in this section focus on the pathways of these 360 successful students.

    The study showed that successful students followed varied pathways to reach their training and employment goals. These could be categorised into two types: planned, linear pathways; or pathways that appeared to be exploratory, with students trying out different courses and changing career paths mid-way.

    Many students who had unplanned, mixed content pathways still succeeded. This could be due to many factors. The interview, focus group and case study data identified that:

    an individuals characteristics/background often assisted them in achieving their goals regardless of how planned their pathway was; and

    the TAFE NSW teaching and learning environment and support helped individuals to succeed.

    Diverse range of enrolments by students who completed courses Students tracked as part of the project were enrolled in courses across all industry areas.

    Enrolments in a diverse range of industry areas

    Tables 8 and 9 below summarise the most popular industry areas of courses at AQF Certificate III level and above completed by the 1519 year old cohort. They do not reflect the diversity of qualifications that students completed, particularly at the Certificate III level.

    Students tracked as part of the study completed more than seventy different Certificate III level qualifications across all industry areas. They included enrolments in areas such as conservation and land management, marine craft construction, shearing, upholstery, multimedia, stonemasonry, refrigeration and air conditioning or aquaculture.

    The most popular industry areas for the 1519 year old students were community services (40 higher level qualifications completed), and administration services (39 higher level qualifications completed).

    Table 8: Industry areas of courses at AQF Certificate III level and above completed by Aboriginal students (1519 years)

    Industry area completions (1519 years) (%) Community services 12.1 Administration services 11.8 Building construction 8.2 Mechanical technology 7.3 Business services 7.3 Hospitality services 5.8 Primary industries 5.8

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Note: This table does not total 100% as only industry areas with the highest levels of completions are included

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    For 2024 year olds, the most popular industry area was business services (14 higher AQF level qualifications completed) and community services (9 higher AQF level qualifications completed).

    Table 9: Industry areas of courses at AQF Certificate III level and above completed by Aboriginal students (2024 years)

    Industry area completions (2024 years) ( %) Business services 17.9 Community services 11.5 Primary industry 10.3 Health services 10.3 Administration services 9

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Note: This table does not total 100% as only industry areas with the highest levels of completions are included

    Courses with the highest number of completions

    For the 1519 year old students tracked as part of this project, Certificate III in Business Administration had the highest number of completions, with 35 students completing this qualification. Certificate III in Childrens Services was the qualification with the second highest number of completions (26 qualification completions), followed by Certificate III in Engineering Fabrication Trade (13 qualification completions), Certificate III in Hairdressing (12 qualification completions), and Certificate III in Carpentry (11 qualification completions).

    At course level Certificate III in Business Administration and Certificate III in Aged Care Work were the courses with the most qualification completions by 2024 year olds (5 qualification completions each). They were followed by Certificate III in Childrens Services (4 qualification completions), and Certificate III in Electro-technology (3 qualification completions).

    Analysis of student pathways

    The pathways information presented below is organised from the lowest level AQF qualifications (TVET programs) to the highest to explore pathways students took. While most students completed qualifications at a particular AQF level before moving to a course at a higher AQF level, this was not always the case.

    Where pathways taken by students from the two age cohorts were similar, a single graph or table has been used to represent the data.

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Pathways to TAFE from TVET programs

    Pathways for TVET students are summarised in Figure 9 below and only relate to the 1519 year old cohort.

    The size of the cohort (27 students) who began in a TVET program and successfully completed a higher level qualification over the six year period is small. However the majority of students (40.7 per cent) followed their TVET program with enrolment in an AQF Certificate II qualification and then progressed directly to a Certificate III qualification.

    Although these TVET students had undertaken Year 11 or Year 12 studies at school, they have still taken the same pathway as students in the broader 1519 year old cohort, the majority of whom had not completed Year 10.

    TVET programs do not always provide students with a full Certificate II level qualification while at school, so students may have first completed their Certificate II courses at TAFE NSW before continuing into a higher AQF level course.

    Figure 9: Pathways of Aboriginal students (1519 years) who first enrolled in 2005 in a TVET program (n=27)

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Foundation skills as a starting point for young people

    Of the students who initially enrolled in a foundation skills course and progressed to an AQF Certificate III level course or higher, the largest group (42.5 per cent) progressed from a foundation skills qualification directly to an AQF Certificate III level qualification.

    The bulk of foundation skills courses that Aboriginal students first enrolled in were at AQF Certificate I and II level or below and were designed to develop students employability and/or LLN skills. These courses provide an effective starting point for students wanting to gain an AQF Certificate III qualification. Most of these lower AQF level foundation skills courses allow students to enrol in lower AQF level vocational units of competency as part of their program to give them a taste of a particular industry area. Such

    40.7%

    18.5%

    14.8%

    11.1%

    7.4%

    3.7% 3.7%

    CII to CIII

    CI to CIII

    CII to CIV

    SA to CIII

    CII to Dip

    CI to CIV

    SA to CIV

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    courses provide students with a pre-vocational or pre-apprenticeship type program.

    An additional 9.6 per cent of students moved from a foundation skills course to an AQF Certificate II level course and then to an AQF Certificate III level course. This pathway provided students with more time to consolidate their foundation skills.

    Two hundred and eighty two students initially enrolled in 2005 in a Year 10 equivalent program (AQF Certificate II level) so these students may have been part of the foundation skills cohort who subsequently enrolled in an AQF Certificate III level course.

    Initial foundation skills program enrolments included 98 enrolments in Year 12 equivalent programs (HSC = CIII and TPC = CIV) which could account for the pathways from foundation skills courses direct to AQF Diploma and AQF Advanced Diploma level courses.

    As summarised in Figure 10 below, pathways for the successful 1519 year old students who initially enrolled in a foundation skills course are diverse. This reflects the diverse range and different AQF levels that constitute foundation skills programs.

    Figure 10: Pathways of Aboriginal students (1519 years) who first enrolled in 2005 in a foundation skills course (n=73)

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Note: Foundation = CIII or CIV refers to initial foundation skills course enrolment at a CIII or CIV level

    There were lower levels of course completion by 2024 year olds who initially enrolled in foundation skills programs.

    A high percentage of this cohort had achieved Year 9 or below level at school and may have not been in an education environment for a number of years. It could be expected that these students might require several enrolments in lower AQF level qualifications to develop the foundation

    42.5%

    9.6% 6.8% 5.5%

    5.5% 4.1%

    4.1%

    4.1%

    4.1% 2.7% 2.7%

    1.4% 1.4% 1.4% 1.4%

    1.4% 1.4%

    Foundation to CIIIFoundation to CII to CIIIFoundation = CIIIFoundation to CII to SA to CIIIFoundation to CIVFoundation = CIVFoundation to DipFoundation to SA to CIIIFoundation to CIII to CIVFoundation to CII to CIII to CIVFoundation to CIV to DipFoundation to CII to CIVFoundation to CI to SA to CII to CIIIFoundation to CIII to SA to CIVFoundation to CIII to CIV to DipFoundation to CIII to CIV to Ad DipFoundation to SA to Dip

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    skills required for study at AQF Certificate III level and above and might benefit from a managed support strategy.

    Pathways from AQF Certificate I or II level qualifications

    Figure 11 below summarises pathways for students who commenced in an AQF Certificate I or II level qualification.

    Half of the successful 1524 year olds (n=42) who started their pathways at AQF Certificate I or II level progressed directly to (and completed) an AQF Certificate III level qualification. Most courses that these students enrolled in are used as pre-vocational or pre-apprenticeship programs.

    The most popular pathways for students in the 2024 year old group were from an AQF Certificate II level to an AQF Certificate III level qualification.

    In many instances students progressed from an AQF Certificate II level qualification to an AQF Certificate III level qualification in the same industry area and in other cases students completed a qualification such as a Certificate II in Engineering Production and then moved to a broader range of qualifications across the engineering, building or automotive trades.

    Almost one quarter (21 per cent) of the students who began in a vocational AQF Certificate I or II level qualification moved directly to an AQF Certificate IV level qualification. Slightly less (12 per cent) went from an AQF Certificate II level qualification to an AQF Certificate III level qualification and finally an AQF Certificate IV level qualification.

    For these students too, we could assume that the AQF Certificate I or II level qualification is an effective pre-vocational pathway.

    Figure 11: Pathways of Aboriginal students (1524 years) who first enrolled in 2005 in a course at AQF Certificate I or II levels (n=42)

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    50.0%

    21.4%

    11.9%

    4.8% 4.8%

    2.4% 2.4%

    2.4% CII to CIII

    CII to CIV

    CII to CIII to CIV

    CI to CIII

    CI to CII to CIII

    CII to SA to Foundation to CIII

    CII to Foundation to SA to CIII

    CII to SA to CIII

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    Pathways from AQF Certificate III level qualifications

    Details of student pathways from AQF Certificate III qualifications are provided in Figure 12 below.

    The overwhelming majority of the successful students (85 per cent) from both age cohorts who began their pathway in an AQF Certificate III, exited with an AQF Certificate III qualification and did not progress any further.

    Many completed an apprenticeship or traineeship, or gained an AQF Certificate III qualification such as Certificate III in Childrens Services which provided them with a direct path to work.

    A small percentage (4 per cent) of students progressed from an AQF Certificate III to the completion of an AQF Certificate IV (4 per cent) and a smaller percentage (3 per cent) went from an AQF Certificate III, to an AQF Certificate IV, and then completed a Diploma.

    These student pathway results align with comments made by successful students surveyed as part of the study. They commented on their interest in completing an apprenticeship and the employment options it provided, particularly self-employment.

    Figure 12: Pathways of Aboriginal students (1524 years) who first enrolled in 2005 in a course at AQF Certificate III level (n=123)

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Pathways from AQF Certificate IV level and above qualifications

    Twenty-five 1519 year old students who enrolled in qualifications at AQF Certificate IV level or above successfully completed a qualification.

    Almost a third (32 per cent) initially enrolled in and completed an AQF Certificate IV qualification without progressing any further. Three students continued from an AQF Certificate IV to an AQF Diploma and three students continued to an AQF Advanced Diploma.

    85.4%

    4.1% 4.1%

    3.3%

    0.8% 0.8% 0.8% 0.8% CIII

    CIII to CIV

    CIII to enrolment in CIV

    CIII to CIV to Dip

    CIII to CII to CIII

    CIII to CIV to enrolment in Dip

    CIII to CI to CII to SA to CIII

    CIII to Foundation to SA to CIII

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    Some students who initially enrolled in an AQF Certificate IV exited TAFE NSW with an AQF Certificate III (12 per cent); other students moved from an AQF Certificate IV to an AQF Certificate II to an AQF Certificate III (4 per cent), or from an AQF Diploma to an AQF Certificate III qualification (8 per cent). It is not clear whether these exit points were in the same or different industry areas to the initial enrolment.

    Some Aboriginal students interviewed as part of the project indicated that TAFE NSW had provided them with a pathway to tertiary education at a university or other higher education provider. Students commented on the value that these pathways provided in allowing them to develop the study skills required to succeed in higher education:

    The TAFE course helped me get into NIDA and I graduated as an actor.

    The teachers were very supportive and the quality of the materials and equipment was excellent. It was a great preparation for university as I

    found that quite overwhelming in the beginning.

    The final report of the recent Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People16 focused on improving higher education access and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The report made a direct recommendation for universities and the VET sector to collaborate with professional bodies and private and public sector employers to build and extend pathways between VET and higher education and pursue delivery partnerships. BVET has funded the Tertiary Pathways Program in NSW which supports higher education initiatives and partnerships between universities and TAFE NSW Institutes.

    Figure 13 below summarises pathways taken by students who originally enrolled in AQF Certificate IV level and above qualifications.

    Figure 13: Pathways of Aboriginal students (1519 years) who first enrolled in 2005 in a course at AQF Certificate IV level or above (n=25)

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    16 Department of Industry, Innovation Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE) (2012), Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People: Final Report, Commonwealth of Australia

    32.0%

    12.0% 12.0%

    12.0%

    12.0%

    8.0%

    4.0%

    4.0% 4.0%

    CIV

    CIV to CIII

    CIV to Dip

    Dip

    Ad Dip

    Dip to CIII

    CIV to CII to CIII

    CIV to Ad Dip enrolment

    Ad Dip to CIV to Dip enrolment

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    For the 2024 year old Aboriginal students who initially enrolled in AQF Certificate IV level and above qualifications, being employed did not seem to be a deterrent to qualification completion. Of the twenty-one students in this cohort who completed higher AQF level qualifications, twelve students were employed and one was a trainee. Many Aboriginal students interviewed as part of the study reported the value of concurrent employment and study in that it provided a practical context to their study.

    Aboriginal students who initially enrol in AQF Certificate IV level or above qualifications would also benefit from ongoing career planning and mentoring as well as discussion with a significant other at key transition points. Some students ended their pathway with an AQF Diploma or Advanced Diploma.

    There may have been Aboriginal students from either age group cohort who successfully completed an AQF Certificate IV level or above qualification and continued on their educational pathway.

    There would be value in promoting the value of a combined vocational education and higher education pathway for Aboriginal young people as it allows students to work while studying, can provide a practical context for study and allow students to develop their study skills.

    Student snapshot #3 (below) demonstrates how vocational education can be the start of a successful pathway to higher education and also the value of such pathways to students in terms of flexibility and affordability.

    Student snapshot #3

    Student: Angela Wood Pathway: Cert IV and above pathway Location: TAFE NSWSouth Western Sydney Institute, (SWSI, Granville campus) Completed course:

    Diploma in Lab Technology (Pathology Testing) Angela Wood completed Year 12 in 2005, and enrolled in a Diploma in Lab Technology (Pathology Testing) in 2006 at Granville campus, SWSI. She then successfully articulated from TAFE NSW into a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at University of Western Sydney (UWS). She is now a qualified doctor. She has worked at the Childrens Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA) as well as the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association Secretariat.

    [TAFE was] familiar. You do two years at TAFE, cheaper than doing three years at university straight up Did it as a university pathway.

    At TAFE, I became mature enough to understand the importance of hard work and dedicationAt the age of 17,

    I was not ready for a career.

    TAFE helped me by readying me for a university course, which would determine my career path.

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    Student pathways from non-AQF courses

    The majority (67.6 per cent) of successful 1519 year olds who first enrolled in a non-AQF course progressed from a Statement of Attainment directly to an AQF Certificate III level qualification.

    Other more varied pathways for this group are shown in Figure 14 below and demonstrate the value of these sometimes shorter programs as an introduction to VET study.

    Student snapshot #4

    Student: Kyola Williams Pathway: Non-AQF pathway Location: TAFE NSWIllawarra Institute (Wollongong campus) Completed Courses:

    Nail Technology, 2000 Nail Enhancement, 2001 Certificate II in Business, 2006 Mind Your Own Business (MYOB), 2006 Cert IV in Community Services, 2009 Diploma of Community Services, 2012

    Kyola Williamss family is from the Wiradjuri tribe but lives and is accepted by the Illawarra Aboriginal Community. At the age of 22, Kyola, mother of two, had an uncertain career path, no qualifications or work experience. She decided to enrol at TAFE NSW and completed several courses in small business and beauty. Using these skills, she gained work as an Aboriginal employment and training case worker. With that experience, Kyola decided to enrol in a Cert IV in Community Services, which led to work as a youth support worker with the Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation. Kyola recently completed the Diploma of Community Services Management to help her achieve her goal of becoming an Aboriginal family support worker. Kyola did all this as a single mother of two and while working full-time.

    It was a challenge for me to work, study and be a mum at the same timebut TAFE NSW and my employer gave me the

    support I needed to get me through. Im reaching my personal goals in life which, at one stage,

    I thought was impossible.

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    Figure 14: Pathways of Aboriginal students (1519 years) who first enrolled in 2005 in a non-AQF course (n=37)

    Source: TAFE NSW TAFE Strategy, Performance and Accountability

    Non-linear pathways

    A number of students completed several courses at the same AQF level rather than a linear progression to a higher level course. In some instances this course pathway was dictated by the need to develop specific work skills.

    I have continued my education in the same field. I had completed a Certificate IV in Youth Work and realised it would be good to have the Certificate IV in Mental

    Health as well. Now I can work across two areas in my field.

    Clearly student pathways are not static. As in the broader population, Aboriginal students today may retrain and change careers several times during their lifetime in response to changes in the economic climate and emerging jobs. It is important that TAFE NSW Aboriginal students have confidence and a sense of achievement on completion as well as the employability skills that allow them to continue learning and if necessary retrain.

    Observations by several students illustrate the continued nature of adult learning:

    I am sure that I will do a Diploma as well. Doing a Certificate III has given me the confidence to aim for that in the future.

    As a structural design draftsman I like what I do. Its interesting work. I am wanting to get into property development. Who knows where my life

    will go but it is all pretty much an adventure.

    67.6% 8.1%

    5.4%

    5.4% 2.7% 2.7%

    2.7% 2.7% 2.7% SA to CIII

    SA to CII to CIII

    SA to CIV

    SA to CI to CIII

    SA to CI to CII to CIII

    Short Course to CIII

    SA to CII to CIV

    SA to CIII to CIV

    SA to Dip

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    Student snapshot #5

    Student: Alice Hutchin Pathway: TVET pathway Location: TAFE NSWWestern Institute (Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo campuses) Completed Courses:

    Cert II in Hospitality in 2008 while in Year 11 at Bathurst HS (not complete) Cert II in Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health while in Year 11

    at Orange in 2010 (not complete) AQF Certificate IV in Music, 2011 Advanced Diploma in Acting and Dance, ACPA Brisbane, 2011/12

    Alice is a proud young Wiradjuri woman who is the youngest of seven children. Alice grew up in Bathurst, and has always held music close to her heart. Her love of music began when she used to sing in English and in Wiradjuri at church with her family and her grandfather who was the pastor. After trying out different courses while still at school and moving location and schools many times, Alice settled on undertaking an AQF Certificate IV in Music. Alice did very well under difficult circumstances living away from home and staying at the Aboriginal hostel in Dubbo. Alice has recently received an award for Vocational Student of the Year at TAFE NSWWestern Institutes 2012 Outstanding Graduating Student Awards. Alice is now an accomplished singer/songwriter. Soul, rhythm and blues are Alices chosen genres but now she has stepped out of her comfort zone and has started to perform some rap tunes.

    In brief: Aboriginal students benefit from:

    pre-vocational or pre-apprenticeship programs to confirm their interest completion of an AQF Certificate I and II can encourage further VET study gaining an apprenticeship nurturing can encourage higher AQF level completions promotion of pathways from VET to higher education.

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    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Section 9: Recommendations

    There was a degree of consistency between the findings from the enrolment and completions data, student interviews, focus groups, case studies and the literature review. These are reflected in the recommendations below.

    These recommendations are not necessarily new, however they are practical, and in combination could be applicable to all training organisations. They are a useful reminder that barriers to Aboriginal student success have still not been overcome. The challenge for training organisations such as TAFE NSW is to continually review and improve practice, to test strategies with stakeholders, to learn through mistakes and to innovate.

    The recommendations fall under the following themes:

    Improving Aboriginal VET programs

    Recommendation 1

    The report recommends that all Aboriginal tertiary education programs should include:

    appropriate student orientation and induction sessions, including for returning students

    initial career and educational skills assessment to identify potential support needs (for example, LLN, study skills, digital literacy)

    mentoring and support services throughout the learning experience

    processes to monitor student attendance and engagement patterns to identify if additional support is needed

    links to employment and further study opportunities.

    Recommendation 2

    The report recommends that customised learning and career plans for Aboriginal students should be developed and trialled.

    Recommendation 3

    The report recommends that providers accessing public VET funding for Aboriginal students need to demonstrate that their organisations have:

    teachers with appropriate cultural competence to meet the education and training needs of Aboriginal people

    a record in providing appropriate support services strong liaison with the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group

    (AECG).

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    Financial support and/or incentives

    Recommendation 4

    The report recommends that public funding for Aboriginal VET, as far as possible, includes additional funding to support links to employment, either through direct employment, internships, simulated or actual work experience.

    Further investigation

    Recommendation 5

    The report recommends that BVET commission further research to identify:

    the best models of pathway entry programs (foundation skills and lower level AQF courses) which enable Aboriginal students to progress to higher level AQF courses

    successful pathways by Aboriginal students from VET to higher education.

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    References:

    List of references used

    Aboriginal Affairs (2012), Getting it right The findings of the Round Two Consultations for the NSW Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs, Office of Communities, NSW Department of Education and Communities.

    Allen Consulting Group (2006), The Complete Package: the value of TAFE NSW, Allen Consulting Group, Melbourne.

    Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011), ABS: 3101.0: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates, 2011 Preliminary, ABS, Canberra.

    COAG Reform Council (2010), National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development: Performance Report for 2009, Sydney.

    Bowden, A. (2012), Perspectives on Teacher Attributes and Practices That Enhance Indigenous Students Completion Rates, NCVER (online): http://www.voced.edu.au/content/ngv54037.

    Department of Industry, Innovation Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE) (2012), Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People: Final Report, Commonwealth of Australia.

    Harding, R. (2009), Early vocational education and training programs for young Aboriginal learners: Perceptions of practitioners and young people, NCVER (online): http://www.ncver.edu.au/publications/2196.html.

    Karmel, T. (2009), Welfare to work: Does vocational education and training make a difference? NCVER, Adelaide.

    NCVER (2002), Outcomes and completions of New ApprenticeshipsResearch at a glance series, NCVER, Adelaide.

    NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC) (2012), Building Cultural Competencies: The Message Stick Way, [Accessed online: 23/10/12] https://detwww.det.nsw.edu.au/lists/directoratesaz/aet/policystrategy/competencies/plld/cultural-competencies/index.htm.

    NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC) (2013), Connected Communities Strategy (2013), [Accessed online: 10/4/2013] https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/media/downloads/about-us/news-at-det/announcements/yr2012/connected-communities-strategy.pdf.

    TAFE NSW (2011), Getting clever about completions: increasing TAFE NSW qualification completions (online): https://www.tafensw.edu.au/about/assets/pdf/getting-clever-about-completions.pdf .

    http://www.ncver.edu.au/publications/2196.htmlhttps://detwww.det.nsw.edu.au/lists/directoratesaz/aet/policystrategy/competencies/plld/cultural-competencies/index.htmhttps://detwww.det.nsw.edu.au/lists/directoratesaz/aet/policystrategy/competencies/plld/cultural-competencies/index.htmhttps://www.tafensw.edu.au/about/assets/pdf/getting-clever-about-completions.pdfhttps://www.tafensw.edu.au/about/assets/pdf/getting-clever-about-completions.pdf

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    List of references used

    NSW Government (2013), OCHRE Opportunity, Choice, Healing, Responsibility, Empowerment, NSW Government Plan for Aboriginal affairs: education, employability & accountability, [Accessed online: 10/4/13] http://dada11715.staging-cloud.netregistry.net/nsw-government-aboriginal-affairs-strategy.

    Towney, R. (2012), Factors which encourage course completions by Aboriginal people an Indigenous perspective on completions, NCVER (online): http://www.voced.edu.au/content/ngv54036.

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/http://dada11715.staging-cloud.netregistry.net/nsw-government-aboriginal-affairs-strategy/http://dada11715.staging-cloud.netregistry.net/nsw-government-aboriginal-affairs-strategy/

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    References

    List of figures and tables

    Figures

    Figure 1: Number of Aboriginal students (1524 years) enrolled in TAFE NSW for the first time in 2005 (n=3,014)

    Figure 2: Number of Aboriginal students (1524 years) enrolled in TAFE NSW in 2005 by age and qualification (n=3,014)

    Figure 3: Number of Aboriginal students (1524 years) who enrolled once or 3 or more times and didn't complete by region (n=981)

    Figure 4: Percentage of Aboriginal students (1519 years) by level of school education and initial enrolment cohort

    Figure 5: Percentage of Aboriginal students (2024 years) by level of school education and initial enrolment cohort

    Figure 6: Factors which impact on Aboriginal student pathways: themes emerging from the data

    Figure 7: Percentage of completions by Aboriginal students (1524 years) in 20052010 in AQF Certificate III level courses and above by employment status

    Figure 8: Percentage of completions by Aboriginal students (1524 years) in 20052010 by employment status

    Figure 9: Pathways of Aboriginal students (1519 years) who first enrolled in 2005 in a TVET program (n=27)

    Figure 10: Pathways of Aboriginal students (1524 years) who first enrolled in 2005 in a foundation skills course (n=73)

    Figure 11: Pathways of Aboriginal students (1524 years) who first enrolled in 2005 in a course at AQF Certificate I or II levels (n=42)

    Figure 12: Pathways of Aboriginal students (1524 years) who first enrolled in 2005 in a course at AQF Certificate III level (n=123)

    Figure 13: Pathways of Aboriginal students (1519 years) who first enrolled in 2005 in a course at AQF Certificate IV level or above (n=25)

    Figure 14: Pathways of Aboriginal students (1519 years) who first enrolled in 2005 in a non-AQF course (n=37)

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    References

    List of figures and tables

    Tables

    Table 1: Enrolments and completions for Aboriginal students (1524 years) in TAFE NSW 20052010

    Table 2: Summary of Aboriginal students (1524 years) interviewed in Stage 2 by Institute and gender

    Table 3: Enrolments for Aboriginal students (1524 years) in 2005 in different types of foundation skills courses

    Table 4: Enrolments and completions for Aboriginal students (1524 years) enrolling for the first time in 2005 in foundation skills courses

    Table 5: Enrolments and completions for Aboriginal students (1524 years) enrolling for the first time in 2005 in courses at AQF Certificate I or II levels

    Table 6: Enrolments and completions for Aboriginal students (1524 years) enrolling for the first time in 2005 in courses at AQF Certificate III level

    Table 7: Enrolments and completions for Aboriginal students (1524 years) enrolling for the first time in 2005 in courses at AQF Certificate IV level or above

    Table 8: Industry areas of courses at AQF Certificate III level and above completed by Aboriginal students (1519 years)

    Table 9: Industry areas of courses at AQF Certificate III level and above completed by Aboriginal students (2024 years)

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Appendices

    Appendix 1: Project team

    Membership of the Reference Group Name Position Representing

    Kate Baxter, Chair Director, TAFE NSWWestern Institute

    Carol Vale R/Leader TAFE Programs, Aboriginal Education and Training Directorate

    Aboriginal Education and Training Directorate

    Tony Aumuller Manager, Aboriginal Programs State Training Services

    Cindy Berwick President, NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group

    NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group

    Kathy Esson Senior Manager, Skills Strategy Executive Officer, BVET

    NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training

    Rod Towney Manager, Aboriginal Education and Training, TAFE NSWWestern Institute

    TAFE NSW

    Natalie Walker Chief Executive Officer, Australian Indigenous Minority Supplier Council

    NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training

    Jennifer Raines Executive Officer , Senior Manager, TAFE Pathways

    TAFE Strategy

    Sue Roy Executive Support, Manager, TAFE Policy, Communication and Research

    TAFE Strategy

    Vanessa Adams Executive Support, Reporting and Accountability Officer

    TAFE Strategy

    Cristina Clarke Executive Support, Assistant Policy and Research Officer

    TAFE Strategy

    James Worner Design, Policy Officer TAFE Strategy

    Previous members of the Reference Group:

    A number of people contributed to the Reference Group and the First Interim (Quantitative) Report, but are now in other roles:

    Denise Andrews, R/Leader TAFE Programs, Aboriginal Education and Training Directorate Mikael Smith, Manager Policy and Communications, NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group

    (AECG) Mary Adams and Rebecca Kyle, Executive Support, TAFE Strategy

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    Appendix 2: Research instruments

    1. Interview schedule

    Template/guidelines for individual interviews Aboriginal Pathways Project Qualitative Analysis

    To be conducted by local Aboriginal staff only

    During the quantitative analysis we discovered lots of data about young Aboriginal students who first enrolled in TAFE NSW in 2005 how many did what, where and when but now we want to find out the stories behind the data. The following questions are samples only (you can ask your own questions as appropriate) but it would be good to get some feedback about each of the following areas:

    TAFE NSW/the Institute/campus Student expectations/motivation The higher level course the student successfully completed Employment Critical factors for success Possible barriers

    Questions: Responses

    TAFE NSW/ Institute/campus:

    What did you like best about your experiences in TAFE NSW? What made a difference? For example:

    Aboriginal Unit/Centre Aboriginal staff support (e.g. literacy/numeracy) teacher other Aboriginal students in your class?

    Expectations/motivation

    Why did you decide to come to TAFE NSW? What did you expect/hope for when you first came to TAFE NSW?

    The course

    Why did you choose the course? Have you done any other courses at TAFE NSW? Was the course customised for Aboriginal people? Did your course include work experience? Did the course help you get work? What did you like best about the course?

    Employment

    Did you have a job while you were studying? Do you have a job now? Were you/are you an apprentice or trainee? Did the course help you get a job?

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    Critical factors for success

    What does success mean to you? What made it easier for you to successfully complete your course?

    Possible barriers

    Did anything make it difficult for you to successfully complete a higher level qualification?

    What could we do better to help other Aboriginal students progress suc higher level qualifications and employment?

    2. Summary how the research was conducted Institute

    No of students contacted, by gender No of interviews conducted No of students in focus group if applicable Names and titles of all staff who contributed

    You may also wish to contribute one example of best practice and/or one case study of a successful Aboriginal student at your Institute.

    1. An example of best practice at your Institute (Please provide specific program, campus, teacher and outcomes)

    2. A case study of one of the Aboriginal students at your Institute (Please make sure you provide the following information about the student: gender, age when first enrolled in TAFE NSW, campus enrolled at, higher level course completed.)

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    3. Student interview consent form

    Whats your story?

    We want to find out what we can do better to help Aboriginal students study successfully, enjoy their time at TAFE NSW, and graduate with qualifications that help them find good jobs.

    Wed love to hear your story about what made a difference for you

    Introduction We are conducting a research project into what helps young Aboriginal people study successfully in TAFE NSW and move into higher level qualifications and employment. With your permission I am going to tell you a bit about the project before you decide whether or not you will participate. You might also like to talk to someone else that you feel comfortable with before you agree. If you decide to participate we will ask you to sign the consent form. If the consent form contains words that you dont understand please ask me to stop as we go through the information and I will take time to explain.

    Purpose of the research We want to find out what we can do better to help Aboriginal students study successfully, enjoy their time at TAFE NSW, and graduate with qualifications that help them find good jobs. For many young people coming into an adult learning environment for the first time can be a bit daunting, and successfully completing a TAFE course can be difficult. We want to make sure we give you all the support you need. Participant Selection You are being invited to take part in this research because you successfully completed a qualification at Certificate III or above between 2005 and 2010, and you were between 15 and 24 years of age when you enrolled in TAFE NSW for the first time in 2005. If you choose to participate you may be interviewed or asked to take part in a focus group with a few other Aboriginal students. Well ask you about your experiences in TAFE NSW, the courses you took, the things that made it easier for you and the things that made it difficult. Your answers will help us make things easier for other young Aboriginal students who may wish to study a course at TAFE NSW. Confidentiality If you are interviewed or take part in a focus group your name will not be used and you will not be identified in any way. We might ask you if we can use your story as a case study, to help to inspire other young Aboriginal students. If you agree, we will write a story about your experiences. You will be shown the story and it will only be published if you are happy with it.

    ABORIGINAL PATHWAYS TO HIGHER LEVEL QUALIFICATIONS IN TAFE NSW

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    (Insert Institute logo)

    ABORIGINAL PATHWAYS TO HIGHER LEVEL QUALIFICATIONS IN TAFE NSW

    CONSENT FORM

    I have read the information about the project and have had an opportunity to ask questions about it. I understand that my name will not be used and that I will not be identified in the study.

    I am happy to take part in the study.

    Name of participant

    Signature

    Date

    Name of researcher

    Signature

    Date

    Agreement to use my story as a case study:

    I have read the story about me and am happy for it to be published in the report.

    Name of participant

    Signature

    Date

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    4. Focus group guidelines and questions

    Aboriginal Pathways to higher level qualifications in TAFE NSW

    Focus Group Discussion Facilitator Guide

    The following information has been developed to guide the facilitator so that a consistent approach is used for all focus groups. Welcome

    a) Outline the purpose of the focus group e.g. This focus group is to gain more insight into the critical factors involved in the transition points that help or hinder Aboriginal VET students from moving forward. Transition points can occur when students move from school to VET study to work, one course to another, or when they experience difficulties e.g. the first assessment activity, starting work experience or when family or personal problems impact on their study.

    Explain that the information from this group will help to guide the development and findings of the Final Report. Individuals will not be named or quoted in the report without their consent.

    Hand out the one page project summary below.

    b) Process for today: Explain that the group does not have to reach an agreement about issues, we are interested in different views. The focus group will last about one hour and as facilitator, your role is to move the group on to make sure we cover the questions.

    Introduce the note takers from TAFE Strategy and explain that their role is to take notes on the key points and issues raised. Explain that the session will be recorded (if that has been agreed).

    c) Introductions: Participants and note takers introduce themselves.

    d) Questions: Check whether there are any questions from participants before getting started on the questions.

    Questions/discussion Focus group discussion questions are included below. Try to make sure you cover all questions in the time available and allow for participants to add anything else they want to add. Conclusion Thank everyone for their input. If anyone has additional information they would like to provide later they can email it to ... Explain that as soon as the final report is published we will notify participants. THANKYOU

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    BVET Aboriginal Pathways Research: Overview for focus group participants

    About the project The Board of Vocational Education and Training (BVET) commissioned a study to identify a range of successful pathways for Aboriginal students either into higher level qualifications (Australian Qualifications Framework [AQF] Certificate III and above) or into employment. The study aims to identify the critical factors that assist Aboriginal students to progress successfully into higher level qualifications and the barriers that prevent Aboriginal student progression. Research process There were two phases of research proposed:

    1) looking at the student data 2) asking students what they thought.

    The data found that only 12 per cent (number = 360) of the sample of Aboriginal TAFE NSW students (number = 3014) successfully completed AQF qualifications at Certificate III level or above in TAFE NSW over the six year period of the study (2005-2010).

    Because of the difficulty in tracking ex-students down, in the end, 77 Aboriginal students were interviewed Findings/recommendations The interviews showed that there is no specific successful pathway among these students, rather they all had varied pathways and in this group of 77 even the less planned, more mixed pathways were successful.

    Recommendations from these students to improve TAFE services included:

    more Aboriginal support services more opportunities for work placement and links with actual job outcomes from training and providing more of a sense of place and belonging to students within their campus.

    Focus Group Questions 1. Participants Roles Q. What are the key aspects of your roles in relation to supporting and mentoring Aboriginal students in education and training?

    2. Critical Factors for success Q. What do you think are the critical factors for success (top 5) that help Aboriginal VET students to complete their training? 3. Transition Points Most students go through different transition points. These may occur when students move from school to VET study to work, one course to another, or when they experience difficulties e.g. the first assessment activity, starting work experience or when family or personal problems impact on their study. Q. What turns a student around when they hit a transition point and makes them stay and complete their study?

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    4. Pathways The research so far shows that some Aboriginal students who successfully complete a VET course follow a planned pathway and others have a more mixed pathway, for example, starting in retail and ending up in community services or starting in hospitality and ending up in construction Q. What helps students make good decisions about selecting their training course or courses? Q. What strategies do you use or see others use that help young Aboriginal people make decisions on their pathway and to maintain their motivation?

    Anything else? Is there anything else youd like to say or add that we havent covered?

    Thank you very much for your input to the project.

    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

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    http://www.bvet.nsw.gov.au/

    About the artworkPublishing detailsDefinitionsAboriginalIndigenousCommunityEldersImproving Aboriginal VET programsFinancial support and/or incentivesFurther investigationFactors impacting on Aboriginal student pathways in TAFE NSWAnalysis of tracked dataStudents targeted for interviewsInterview processMultiple non-completionsLevel of school educationAboriginal specific programsEnrolments and completions1. Foundation skills coursesEnrolmentsDifferent types of foundation skills coursesCompletions2. AQF Certificate I or Certificate II level coursesEnrolmentsCompletions3. AQF Certificate III level coursesEnrolmentsCompletions4. AQF Certificate IV level and above coursesEnrolmentsCompletions5. Non-AQF coursesEnrolments and completions6. TVET programsStudy choiceCareer planningAdult learning environmentThe value of preparatory coursesTaster programsTVET programsFoundation skills programsNon-AQF coursesThe value of the teacherThe learning environmentAccess to the learning environmentFinancial considerationsThe value of work experience/work related studyIndividual supportPromotion of support servicesSupport for apprentices and traineesPeer supportPart of the learning communityEmployment outcomesThe link between work and studyEmployment + training not an option for allEnrolments in a diverse range of industry areasPathways to TAFE from TVET programsFoundation skills as a starting point for young peoplePathways from AQF Certificate I or II level qualificationsPathways from AQF Certificate III level qualificationsPathways from AQF Certificate IV level and above qualificationsStudent pathways from non-AQF coursesNon-linear pathwaysRecommendation 1Recommendation 2Recommendation 3Recommendation 4Recommendation 5FiguresTablesMembership of the Reference GroupPrevious members of the Reference Group:1. Interview scheduleTemplate/guidelines for individual interviews2. Summary how the research was conducted3. Student interview consent form4. Focus group guidelines and questionsThe data found that only 12 per cent (number = 360) of the sample of Aboriginal TAFE NSW students (number = 3014) successfully completed AQF qualifications at Certificate III level or above in TAFE NSW over the six year period of the study (2005-2010).