Australia’s Adult and Community Education Sector in Perspective
According to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), there are almost 400 not-for-profit adult and community education (ACE) training providers in Australia, the majority of them located in Victoria and New South Wales.
Of the 3.9 million Australian vocational education and training (VET) students enrolled in 2020, 386,400 (9.8% of the total) studied with a not-for-profit ACE provider. This was a substantial decrease of 21% (102,700 students) on the previous year – 2019, the largest decrease in recent history. Much of the drop in total students appears to be due to the COVID-19 impact of less learning engagement by vulnerable and disadvantaged students. CCA notes that this is a worrying trend that needs to be addressed urgently as it shows that many of the most needy learners are likely to be missing out in important skills development.
In addition to community providers, Australian VET students enrolled in TAFE with 20.1% of the total (792,700 students – up by 13,500 from 2019); private for-profit providers with 71.9% of the total (2.8 million students, down 200,000), university providers with 1.8% (75,100 students – down 2,500); school providers with 2.8% (111,000 students – down 3,000); and enterprise providers with 2.4% (95,600 students, down 28,800). (Totals add to more than 100% as students may have enrolled in training with multiple provider types.)
In addition to the 400+ ACE providers which deliver accredited and pre-accredited vocational education and training, more than 2000 other ACE providers offer personal interest learning and other courses, including adult basic education in language, literacy, numeracy, digital and other foundation skills (see Adult Learning Australia, Adult Community Education Australian Environmental Scan 2020).
VET Students who enrol with community education providers consistently show the greatest increase into employment of any provider type: 16.8% of community education VET training graduates moved from unemployment to employment in 2018 as a result of their training, compared to 10.1% of TAFE graduates (also the national average), 9.5% of private for-profit training providers, and 7.9% of university VET providers. Compared to other VET provider types, community education graduates were also the most satisfied with assessment, the most satisfied with the overall quality of training and the most willing to recommend their training. Of those employed after training, more community education graduates found the training relevant to their current job and received at least one job-related benefit (source: NCVER VET Student Outcomes 2019 report, December 2019).