Wednesday, 20 Mar 2002

Participation of young Australian women in formal and informal training programs provided by their employers as part of their work (firm-based training) has more than doubled between 1985 and 1997, according to a report released today by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).

In 1985, 15 per cent of women aged 19 to 26 participated in external firm-based education and training, compared with 32 per cent in 1997. The incidence of in-house training also increased for young women – from 32 per cent in 1985 to 37 per cent in 1997. For young men there was little change in that period, increasing marginally from 28 per cent to 29 per cent for external training and 29 per cent to 32 per cent for internal training.

The report, Firm-based Training for Young Australians: Changes from the 1980s to the 1990s by Michael Long and Stephen Lamb, examines changes in the extent, pattern and outcomes of participation in short episodes of firm-based education and training by young Australians. The study uses data from the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY) project, which is jointly managed by ACER and the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST). It focuses on a national sample of more than 14 000 young Australians, the most comprehensive available data to analyse the changes in training experienced by young workers over the period 1985 and 1997.

According to the report, the extent of formal firm-based education and training for young Australians is substantial, but uneven. As part of their work, 46 per cent of employees in the sample participated in formal training in 1994 receiving an average of 55.5 hours over the previous 12-months. However, the distribution of training time is skewed with a small proportion of individuals receiving extensive training and many receiving little training (the median amount of training is 17.2 hours per year).

Most of the firm-based education and training was provided by the worker’s own employer (76 per cent). Young women had a slightly higher incidence of formal training (49 per cent) than young men (44 per cent), but on average received fewer hours (73 hours for males over the previous 12 months, compared with 40 for females).

The report also found that workers with "better" jobs (eg those who are in full-time jobs requiring more education, or in professional or managerial occupations) receive more training. Training tended to be higher in public administration and community service industry sectors and lower in agriculture and primary industry. Evidence also suggests that those who undertook in-house firm-based training received, on average, higher hourly wages.

Dr John Ainley, Deputy Director of ACER, said the report highlighted the importance of ongoing training for employees to build on their initial skills. "Training provided in the workplace is an important component of lifelong learning and helps to build a more skilled workforce," Dr Ainley said.

Long, M., Lamb, S. (2002). Firm-Based Training for Young Australians: Changes from the 1980s to the 1990s, LSAY Research Report 23, Melbourne: ACER.

The full report will be available on the ACER web site in pdf format from Wednesday 20 February 2002 and in print form from ACER Press, phone (03) 9277 5447; fax (03) 9560 4799; email sales@acer.edu.au