The value of completing a VET qualification

11 Oct 2012

Using data from the 2009 Student Outcomes Survey, the report looks at the pay-off to completion on a range of outcomes, and identifies the groups for whom completion is particularly important.
The overall qualification estimated completion rate for the cohort commencing in 2005 was 27%, a figure that was greeted with some consternation. While this completion rate appears to be very low, the immediate response from some in the sector was that it did not take into account the fact that many students enrol in a VET course without intending to complete and leave the course before completion because they have obtained the skills they require. The purpose of this paper is to test this argument by looking at the return from completion and identifying those groups for whom completion matters.
This will enable us to refine completion rates as performance indicators for the VET sector. Our approach is based on the outcomes of completions. For each student we look at an outcome, such as the probability of being employed, conditional on, first, the student completing the course and, second, on not completing it. The ratio of the outcome to completion relative to non-completion then provides us with a pay-off function. The pay-off itself is unit-less. We can then identify groups for whom the pay-off from completion is the greatest. This approach is applied to a series of outcome variables; perhaps a particular group may have a high pay-off from completion in relation to one outcome variable but not another. The outcome variables we consider are all related to the labour market or further study: being employed after training (full- or part-time); improved employment circumstances after training;1 further study after training; salary; and occupational status.
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