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Insight issue #58 22 August 2016

More complete picture of training emerges

Two years ago the picture of training activity in Australia did not encompass the full scope and diversity of the VET sector. Until this point in time, VET statistical collections focused on publicly funded training, while private training remained largely out of scope. A turning point occurred in November 2015 with the first release of data on total VET activity (TVA), which was published as Total VET students and courses 2014. This provided a greater level of information, albeit during a transitional year. Now, a richer and more comprehensive picture is continuing to emerge with the second release of TVA data.

“This year, 4277 training providers reported data, including training providers that were previously granted exemptions. This information adds to the picture of Australia’s training sector making the picture more complete this year”, says Dr Craig Fowler, Managing Director, NCVER.

“It shows the scale and significance of the VET sector, with about one in four working-aged Australians training last year, a finding that is consistent with the first release of TVA”.

The second release of TVA data estimates that in 2015, 4.5 million people in Australia and overseas undertook some form of vocational education and training (VET) with an Australian training provider. This builds on the initial findings from the first TVA data collection, released in 2015.

Opportunities now exist for analysts, researchers, policy makers and others to use TVA data to gain a much more granular understanding of the VET sector than what has previously been obtainable.

NCVER’s preliminary analysis of data from the first release has provided significant insight into the VET sector’s diversity. There is evidence to indicate substantial dispersion in provider size, with 14% of providers training 80% of VET students (Anlezark & Foley 2016) and about 40% (almost 2000) of all registered training providers training 100 or fewer students (Korbel & Misko 2016). The analysis of the data has not only highlighted the diversity, but the complexity of the VET sector.

“As you can see from these two early pieces of work, TVA data are bringing into focus some of the challenges the VET sector is presented with, including regulation of this expansive and diverse market and providing meaningful information to help inform student choice”, says Dr Fowler.

TVA data provide industry, governments, training providers, regulators and students with a deeper understanding of the sector, which in turn, will help to better inform consumer choice. The data have shown us that of the estimated 4.5 million students enrolled in 2015:

  • 66% were enrolled at private training providers
  • 21% were enrolled at TAFE institutes
  • 5% were enrolled at community education providers
  • 3% were enrolled at schools
  • 3% were enrolled at enterprise providers
  • 2% were enrolled at universities.

The data also revealed that the majority of students undertake their training in the same state or territory in which they reside, indicating that being able to study with a provider that is close to home is an important factor for students.

TVA data is available from a suite of products, including:

In-depth information about TVA and the data is available from a suite of fact sheets. To access Total VET students and courses 2015 and the associated products, visit

The following NCVER analyses, using data from the first release of TVA published in 2015, are also available: