C R E A T I N G
A T T I T U D I N A L C H A N G E
E D U C A T I O N A N D T R A I N I N G
I N T H E
C R A D L E C O A S T R E G I O N:
R E P O R T
Prepared For The Cradle Coast Authority
30 Marine Terrace, Burnie, Tasmania, 7320 30 November 2004
S t r i d e C o n s u l t i n g Pty Ltd 26 Stodart Street, Camberwell, Victoria, 3124, Australia
Tel: 61 3 9889 9661 Fax: 61 3 98891127 Email: [email protected]
Table of Contents
Thanks and Acknowledgements 3 Disclaimer 3 Executive Summary 4 Introduction 5 Overview 5 The Brief 6 Issues 8 Scope 9 Target Groups 10 Report Structure 12 The Current Situation 13 Introduction 13 Basic Information 13 Key Factors and Insights 20 Analysis of Current Attitudes 24 Analysis of ‘Negative’ Attitudes 25 Analysis of ‘Positive’ Attitudes 31 Influences on Attitudes to Education and Training 42 Other Survey Findings 43
Thanks and Acknowledgements There are many people and institutions to thank for making this report possible. We deeply appreciate the assistance and support they have provided. In the course of a number of visits to the region, I myself was made to feel at home everywhere I visited, and given information that was full of insight. In particular, we take the opportunity to thank the 600 people who completed questionnaires and the 25 institutions that distributed them. We also thank the many people and institutions who gave generously of their time to meet with Denis White to discuss the project with him, and ensure that key factors, issues and concerns were kept at the forefront. We thank the Reference Group members for their assistance and support: Mike Brakey of Hellyer College; Gail Cumming of TAFE Tasmania; Toni Douglas of Barrington Support Service; Lynne Ferencz as a community representative; Rachael Hogge of the University of Tasmania; and Paul Roberts-Thomson of Van Diemen Quality Bulbs. There is much to thank them for. They have contributed greatly to provide focus and understanding, as well as giving generously of their time. We thank Roger James of Roger James and Associates for his work with the construction and analysis of the surveys. We particularly thank Nick Flittner, Project Officer of the Stronger Learning Pathways Program within the Cradle Coast Authority. Nick has been totally generous and professional in assisting with the project, providing information and contacts, and above all in contributing his own commanding insights and understanding in relation to the program. Disclaimer This strategy plan has been prepared for the purpose of information and analysis and is for the use of the recipient only. The information in this strategy plan is given in good faith and has been obtained from published information and other sources believed to be reliable at the time of preparation. Neither Stride Consulting Pty Ltd, nor its contractors nor any other person involved in the preparation of this plan is under any obligation for any change or inaccuracy. Any reliance placed by the recipient on the strategy plan or any information subsequently provided, shall be solely at the recipient’s own risk. This plan includes certain statements, estimates and forecasts with respect to the anticipated future outcomes and performance, and as to the market for various services and provisions. Such statements, estimates and projections reflect the various assumptions made by Stride Consulting Pty Ltd and its staff concerning anticipated result, which assumptions may or may not prove to be correct. No representation is made as to the accuracy of such statements, estimates and forecasts. Neither Stride Consulting Pty Ltd, its contractors nor any other person involved in the preparation of this plan accepts any liability or responsibility whatsoever for the accuracy or completeness of this plan, nor makes any representation in relation thereto.
Executive Summary The project is about attitudes to education and training in NW Tasmania: specifically, about changing attitudes to increase participation and retention rates. The report analyses four surveys of attitudes to education and training, then develops:
• ten quantitative objectives to strengthen positive attitudes towards education and training, plus a series of behavioural, situational and societal objectives;
• five strategies, and • twenty specific action recommendations for achieving the objectives.
The report focuses on strengthening twenty two attitudes to education and training identified by the project reference group as positive. To find out what people’s attitudes are and what influences them, four groups were surveyed: secondary students, post-secondary students, community members, and institutional staff. A major result of the surveys is that existing attitudes are generally positive, and that the requirement is therefore to strengthen these positive attitudes rather than getting rid of negative attitudes. In order to give focus and ‘bite’ to the proposed attitudinal change campaign, one key objective has been expressed as a numerical target. This objective, to be achieved over five years, is: “To halve the number (%) of students who
believe their courses are too theoretical”. Currently more than one quarter of students believe their courses are too theoretical; the objective is to reduce this proportion to one eighth or less. This should prove a good indicator of whether positive attitudes are strengthening. The strategies and action recommendations assume that the community needs to ‘own’ the campaign for attitudinal change. To give ownership, many recommendations propose working parties that local institutions such as schools will put together, and which will receive seed funding including provision of an honorarium to responsible staff in order to ensure that there are incentives. Branding will occur through competitions for a logo and a motto. Information that is generic to the region will be disseminated by a series of targeted brochures, flyers, and information bulletins for parents. The survey results provide a wealth of information that will be valuable for years to come. These results provide a benchmark, but by themselves they are only a snapshot. It will be necessary to re-run the surveys in 3-4 years to establish directions and trends. The drive to make the campaign for attitudinal change succeed will need to come from within the North-West rerion of Tasmania. There are encouraging signs that it can be successful, based on the wide range of programs currently underway in the region, the commitment of institutions, and their willingness to co-operate.
One: Introduction Overview This project is about getting fundamentals right. The Cradle Coast Authority, along with other bodies in North West Tasmania, has put the spotlight onto attitudes as a driver of better outcomes in education and training. Responsible bodies in the region say that they are finding that everything else leads back to attitudes – which is why they are fundamental. The project objective is therefore to influence attitudes, and thus make a difference at that level. The project is closely aligned with other initiatives currently underway in the region. This will generate a lot of synergy. North West Tasmania is a unique part of Australia. It is known to generate strong local loyalties. Its towns and regional centres value their individual identities. Participation and retention rates in education are low. Because of these characteristics, it has been widely thought that something of a revolution would be required in attitudes to education and training. We received an example of this thinking when we asked two former residents what proportion of the adult population they thought would answer ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Would you like to undertake further education or training if you could?’. The answer they guessed at was 20%. In fact, 72% of the cohort we put the question to said ‘Yes’. This shows decisively that education is prominently on the radar screens of North West Tasmanians. That particular response is symptomatic of broader trends in attitudes to education across the region. Our research on attitudes shows that in the main, the task of getting attitudes ‘right’ calls for evolution rather than revolution; for strengthening ‘right’ attitudes that have already developed, rather than having to start by getting rid of ‘wrong’ attitudes that are entrenched. While attitudes in the region appear to be progressing, we have a strong impression that there are still some basic issues about confidence that need to be overcome. A number of people have commented to us that the history of NW Tasmania has not encouraged optimism about the future. As explained below, a different dynamic – fortunately one that is complementary to the strategies proposed for attitudes – is called for on this front. Without confidence, having the ‘right’ attitudes will not be sufficient by itself to bring about the kind of changes that are being looked for. Overall, the project that is being conducted is a very bold one. Part of what makes attitudes fundamental is that they do not easily yield to campaigns, to marketing, or to blandishments. Unusually effective strategies and action plans will be required to take their measure.
We have been asked to provide a report that will:
• enable attitudinal change to be achieved; • enable education and training to be showcased; • establish a direction for educational developments;
• contain insights and understandings that can be drawn upon in the future; and
• increase participation in education and training.
These requirements have called for broad and encompassing strategies and action plans. These are designed to contribute to change at the level of attitudes held by the target groups described below. Our hope is that a number of narrower initiatives will flow out of these broader programs. In its broadest context, it would be desirable for this project to be linked with generating a flow of new arrivals into the region. Granted that significant numbers of young students leave the region, it would be extremely valuable for the educational institutions to attract other students into the region. The presence of a university campus in the region – especially one which has been awarded a significant number of new Commonwealth-supported places – makes such growth feasible. More broadly, granted that Australia as a whole is experiencing the benefits of multiculturalism, it would be desirable to find ways to enable the region to participate more fully in these benefits. Without the benefits of multiculturalism, attitudinal change on the education front will probably not be enough for North West Tasmania to keep up with other parts of Australia. An open rather than a closed system is essential for future growth and development. As noted above and detailed below, this attitudinal change project is one of several education and training projects being undertaken in the region. At the same time, significant change – including a significant lifting of what is in effect the school leaving age – is being legislated. All the initiatives are moving in similar directions. The Brief The heading on the terms of reference and consultancy brief is the same as the title of this Report. The Brief contains background information as well as describing the nature and scope of this project. The brief provides the following information.
• The Cradle Coast Authority is a joint authority established by the nine local government Councils of northwest and western Tasmania to coordinate and drive economic development at a regional scale.
• The Authority has entered into a partnership to invest $12 m. in the region
under the Federal Government’s Sustainable Regions Program.
• The partnership’s Advisory Committee has made ‘participation in education, training and employment’ one of six priorities, on the basis that it is considered a cornerstone of future development of the region.
• The Advisory Committee has allocated $2m. through the Stronger Learning
Pathways initiative for grants for initiatives that increase participation and retention in education and training in the region. The Stronger Learning Pathways initiative is guided by a Reference Group.
An issue confronting the region is that education and employments rates are amongst the lowest in Australia. Because of this, and as stated in the brief, the Reference Group ‘considers it is important to raise the profile of education and training in the region in order to effect a cultural change in the way people value education and training. To this end the Reference Group has decided to implement a campaign to promote and showcase the value of education and training for the communities and individuals of the region’. This project is the first stage of the campaign, entitled ‘Scoping and design of the campaign’. The second stage is implementation, the third is evaluation. The brief spells out the scope of the campaign in the following terms.
“The campaign will be designed to specifically target distinct groups of learners or potential learners, and to deliver messages in the most appropriate and effective way for each group. The campaign will be underpinned by research into learners, identifying different market segments, their motivations and perceived barriers, and the most effective marketing strategies to reach each group. It is expected that previous research undertaken by ANTA (Australian National Training Authority) into learning cohorts and their attitudes to learning will be localized and will form the basis for campaign strategies. It is expected that the campaign, in conjunction with other regional initiatives, will increase the numbers of people participating in post-compulsory education and training, through University, TAFE, schools and colleges, and with other training providers operating in the community or the workplace.”
The brief spells out the scope of stage one of the campaign in the following terms.
“Stage 1 of the campaign should address the following components • Background market research on learners and potential learners,
including proven and effective ways to successfully target different segments of the learning community
• Identification of key target groups • Identification of appropriate marketing strategies for each target group • Indicative costings for each strategy • Identification of sponsorships to fund an on-going campaign, and/or
the development of partnerships with key stakeholders • Development of an implementation plan for the campaign.”
The brief notes that implementation of Stages 2 and 3 will be considered upon completion of Stage 1. Throughout our discussions with both the Stronger Learning Pathways reference group and its members, and with the reference group specifically set up for this project, the primary and indeed virtually exclusive focus has been on matters of attitudinal change. This Report reflects that emphasis and focus. Issues The issues involved in the project itself are relatively straightforward.
• What attitudes should be investigated, including consideration of which are the ‘good’ and which the ‘damaging’ ones?
• Thinking about attitudes to education and training - how can their incidence,
relevant causative influences, and connections with behaviour and intentions, be identified and analysed?
• In the light of research findings into the above questions:
o how should target groups for attitudinal change be determined; and
o how should strategies and action programs be developed?
Five issues of enduring and underlying significance also arise.
• What are the most productive ways to view relationships among and between education, training, employment, lifestyles, earning, people’s futures, and ways of life? This issue concerns relationships between attitudes and behaviour as well as relationships between institutions. A related issue is how to harness synergies between schools and employers on the one hand, and ‘learning’ and ‘working’ on the other?
• How can this project be developed to ensure that the matters being addressed
will continue to be addressed in the longer term? • What are the implications of influences including distance, cultural factors,
and costs – including poverty as well as the huge costs of children having to leave home to study after both year 10 and year 12 – for proposals to create attitudinal change to education and training?
• How can the fullest advantage be taken of existing ‘on the ground’ provision
of educational services in the region, in combination with the emerging potential of online learning and distance education – and how does this relate to ‘attitudes to education and training’?
• How can this project be linked with broader objectives of attracting more
people – including young people and people with young children - to the region, and increasing the ‘ethnic’ mix in the region?
These are issues with extensive ramifications. They highlight that ‘attitudes to education and training’ are not stand alone items. For example, looking only at the last of the issues above, it could well be argued that there is little chance of achieving closer alignment between relevant attitudes in NW Tasmania and the major population centres of Australia until there is a more extensive ethnic mix in the region. A further issue that might be raised is how to justify the attitudes that are espoused below – and how to refute those that are rejected. While this issue has not been taken up, we believe that a core criterion would be the extent to which the attitudes in question are ‘for’ or ‘against’ education. Scope Our Reference Group has taken the view that it would be a mistake to prejudge in any way the scope of the proposed campaign. We understand that a media advertising campaign has been mentioned in certain contexts as one possible outcome. Without discounting this possibility as part of a campaign, we feel it is important to recognize that the creation of attitudinal change to education and training will need to go deeper. For example, it will be necessary to address the drivers of attitudes as well as the attitudes themselves. Such a process is likely to take time. It may need to be indirect. For example, one conclusion coming out of our surveys is that the attitudes of secondary students are significantly influenced by both parents and teachers. Based on this, it makes sense to work with both parents and teachers to fashion desired attitudinal changes in these students. A campaign of broad scope will be required to make progress with these diverse and pervasive sectors of the community. Indeed, it rapidly becomes apparent that it is not easy to draw boundaries around the project. KPIs are not easy to identify or establish. As proposed elsewhere, re-run of the questionnaires in three years time enable changes to be quantified – although this will not of itself tell the story of what factors have been influential. We also recommend using responses to questions about whether courses are too theoretical as a useful litmus test. To take another example, we are not aware of any evidence showing how long it takes for a good campaign to change, first the attitudes of parents, and then in turn the attitudes of their children. Structural changes to education programs may be calculated to produce more rapid changes in attitudes. Relevant influences may all need to move one way, even though they move at different rates. This project – and the information collected through the surveys – provides an initial line in the sand for understanding attitudes to education and training in the region. But the sand stretches in many directions.
We believe that the results of the surveys will be broadly encouraging to people living in NW Tasmania, and that they will support and increase community confidence. The line in the sand will also be useful in measuring change in the future. It would be antithetical to the spirit of this project to pluck out one group or section of the community and hope or attempt to limit the scope of the proposed campaign to this group. It will, however, as recommended later in this Report, be useful to retest attitudes in a few years both to find out what has changed, and the extent to which broad strategies and action programs coming out of this Report have played a part. Target Groups The brief suggested that the project’s target groups might be identified through an ANTA3 classification based on people’s attitudes to learning. This classification splits the general community into eight segments: passionate learners (21%); almost there (6%); learning on hold (11%); make it easier (16%); done with it (14%); forget it (8%); might give it away (7%); and learn to earn (17%). We have come to the view that attitudes to learning are not the only basis for determining what the target groups of this attitudinal campaign should be. In the light of our survey findings, our other research, and our judgment about the most effective ways of achieving desired outcomes, we have selected six target groups, as set out below. We should also make it clear from the outset that these six groups – which encompass virtually the whole population - are more than ‘targets’, whose attitudes the campaign will try to change. Most or all of them will become vehicles for bringing about change both in other parts of the community, and also more widely among people who form sub-groups within the larger groups to which they themselves belong. This is in line with a core statement in our tender.
“We highlight at the outset that if the consultancy is to be successful and effective, the communities in the Cradle Coast region – including target groups – will need to feel a sense of ownership in the attitudinal change campaign that comes out of it. Achieving this sense of ownership will give a flying start to the implementation stage.”
PARENTS As a major influence on the attitudes of their children, and as community members who may or may not wish to undertake further education themselves, parents are an inescapable target group. Specific sub-groups that have been mentioned to us as requiring special attention include young mothers who are themselves studying in open learning programs; parents of primary school children, who are ripe for attitude-shaping information about education and training; and parents who put pressure on their children.
3 Australian National Training Authority
EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS As providers of the experiences that go into shaping most people’s attitudes to education, and as organisations that are perhaps too close to education to review their own attitudes or activities dispassionately, educational institutions are an equally inescapable target group. As will become apparent, we see them as vehicles for:
• analysing and reviewing their own attitudes; and • creating means for influencing their students’ attitudes in favourable ways.
COMMUNITY MEMBERS WHO WOULD LIKE TO UNDERTAKE FURTHER EDUCATION OR TRAINING IF THEY COULD In a region with education rates that are among the lowest in Australia, these community members are an equally inescapable target. Engaging the interest of this majority group will not only help to draw them into programs, but help to give them influence over the minority of community members who currently say no to further education or training. We have not included community members who do not wish to undertake further education as a primary target group. Our judgment is that it is better for the attitudes of this group to be shaped by changes in the broader community which is more interested in education. Any outside attempt to go straight at the attitudes of groups that are ‘anti’ rather than ‘pro’ is likely to be an uphill battle. We accept the need to do something to assist sectors of the community – such as third generation unemployed people – for whom attitudinal change towards education and training might be the best hope. Our judgment is that effective approaches are likely to come out of initiatives that are broader in the first instance. Doing it this way should mean that disadvantaged groups will end up inside rather than outside the mainstream. Specific pro-active approaches will be required as part of these broader approached.4 STUDENTS Students – especially school students – are an equally inescapable target. Many of them are not studying by choice. It is desirable to find ways to engage them while they are in education. A core proposal is to focus initially on the 25+% of students – both at the secondary and the post-secondary level – who find their current studies ‘too theoretical’. We accept the need to do something to assist special sub-groups within student communities, such as Year 8, 9 & 10 students who are ‘at risk’. Once again, our view is that effective approaches are most likely to come out initiatives that are essentially encompassing.
4 Action Recommendation Five is an example.
EMPLOYERS As beneficiaries, consumers, and financiers of education, employers are also an inescapable target. Employers are seldom ‘education people’. Their own attitudes to education are often coloured by their own experiences, which have not infrequently been adverse. Employers are often not aware of the imperatives and the professional goals of educational institutions. We have no doubt that huge benefits in terms of attitudinal change to education and training would come out of better mutual understanding between employers and educational institutions. The reality would be that better outcomes and better attitudes would feed systematically off each other. Report Structure The next section of this Report describes and analyses the current situation with respect to attitudes to education and training in the Cradle Coast Region. The following section, entitled Objectives, proposes and discusses a series of objectives that should be the aim of the campaign. The final section of the Report proposes a series of strategies and action recommendations, including a number of suggestions about implementation. The Report includes four appendices – a note on indicative costings for strategies and action programs; a report on the surveys of attitudes to education and training; lists of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ attitudes; and a bibliography. a report on survey findings, an estimate of campaign costs, and a list of references consulted. The next section, on the Current Situation, includes relevant background and demographic material, as well as the analysis of our consultations and research about attitudes in the region to education and training.
The Current Situation Introduction This section provides information that is salient for developing objectives, strategies and action recommendations for the proposed attitudinal change campaign – and for the related initiatives. In developing strategies to create attitudinal change in the Cradle Coast Region, the following features of the region, especially of its education system, need to be kept clearly in view. In reviewing the current situation in education in the region, it is important to be aware that while some features are well established, a large number of new initiatives are coming on stream, and a great deal of innovation is taking place. As noted elsewhere, four distinct but overlapping quantitative surveys were conducted to obtain up-to-date region specific information. The presentation and analysis of these survey results is the centerpiece and provides a large amount of relevant information. Other information has come from consultations within the region, and desktop research. It is useful to present the research findings in the context of the region’s geography and demography, an outline of relevant established practices, and an understanding of the initiatives currently being conducted in the region. As detailed below, this attitudinal change project is part of a tapestry of mutually supporting initiatives that are being undertaken in the region at the same time. Basic Information Geography and Demographics As noted in the Cradle Coast Regional Profile, the region covers 22,492 km2, 33.1% of Tasmania’s total area. It comprises nine Local Government Areas: Burnie, Central Coast, Circular Head, Devonport, Kentish, King Island, Latrobe, Waratah/Wynyard, and West Coast.5 For this project, the main geographical features of the Cradle Coast Region are:
• the north west coastal strip from Devonport in the east to Smithton in the west, including Burnie, Latrobe, Ulverstone and Wynyard; and
• the west coast towns of Queenstown and Roseberry.
Smithton is approximately 140 km from Devonport. Burnie - roughly in the middle - is approximately 55 km west of Devonport, and some 85 km east of Smithton. Queenstown is approximately 170 km south of Burnie. It takes 2½ hours to drive from Queenstown to Burnie, just over half an hour from Burnie to Devonport, and just under one hour from Burnie to Smithton.
5 Cradle Coast Regional Profile, p. 1
At June 2002, the region’s total population was estimated at 106,417 people.6 There were 1,345 births in the region in 1999, compared to 1,644 in 1994.7 The following chart shows the populations of the region’s main urban centres and towns, according to the 2001 census.8
Location Total Population Burnie - Somerset 17,227Devonport 21,575Latrobe 2,689Penguin 2,911Port Sorell 1,936Queenstown 2,352Rosebery 1,115Sheffield 981Smithton 3,148Tumers Beach 1,259Ulverstone 9,519Wynyard 4,635Total 66,513 Thus almost 40% of the region’s population lived outside these urban centres and towns. The 2001 census showed the region’s population of 0-14 year olds at 23,3909, and of 15-19 year olds at 7,480. On average, this means that each year’s cohort of young people in the region is approximately 1,500-1,650. If the overall proportions were maintained across the region at 1,500, each year’s cohort would be, for example, approximately 240 in Burnie, 300 in Devonport, 135 in Ulverstone, 45 in Smithton, 35 in Queenstown. 4,432 (32%) of the 15-24 year olds in the region were employed full time, and 2,581 (18%) were employed part time. 1815 ( 13%), were unemployed, and 1401 (10%), were neither attending education institutions nor in the labour force. To give two snapshots – from a later year – of employment openings, the Jobsearch website showed 492 job vacancies in West and Northwest Tasmania (out of 1,194 across Tasmania) in August 2004, and 535 vacancies (out of 1,745 across Tasmania) on 19 November 2004. A 2003 Report showed (i) that there are currently 14 labour market entrants in Tasmania for every 10 retiring, and (ii) that by 2010, there will be less than 10 entrants for every 10 retiring.10
6 Ibid. 7 N. Jackson, Demographic and Socio-Economic Report: The Population of the Cradle Coast, p. 11 8 Cradle Coast Regional Profile, p. 27. 9 Ibid, p.8 & passim 10 N. Jackson, Demographic and Socio-Economic Report: The Population of the Cradle Coast, p. 13
The 2001 census showed the region’s population of 20-64 year olds at 61,209.11 Assuming even distribution, this would mean that approximately 9,900 people from this cohort are living in Burnie, 12,400 in Devonport, 5,500 in Ulverstone, 1,800 in Smithton, 1,350 in Queenstown. To the extent that the region’s towns and urban centres exist in isolation from each other, campaigns in various parts of the region to create attitudinal change to education and training in the student groups will not be dealing with large numbers of people. The numbers are still modest with the 20-64 year old cohort – and would be challenging in terms of attracting a minimum class-size group to enroll in any particular education programs. It is widely recognized that poverty is an issue in the region,. What the figures seem to show is that people on the Cradle are on average less well off than in the rest of Tasmania, and that there is a bigger gap between those who are well off, and those who are not so well off. One Report states that ‘the median weekly income for the Cradle Coast adult population (from all sources) in 2001 was, at $230, 31% lower than that for total Tasmania ($302)… The discrepancy undoubtedly reflects the combined effect of differing proportions of each population in each educational, skill, industrial, occupational and labour force category.’12 Another Report states that the average annual individual taxable income in the Cradle Coast Region in 2001 was $31,647, compared to $31,410 for Tasmania.13 The same Report notes that 38.9% of persons aged 15 years and over in the Cradle Coast region were Centrelink income support customers, compared with 36.1% for Tasmania.14 The purpose of this overview of geography and basic demographics is to provide some basic orders of magnitude. Without these, it is difficult to keep the issues in proportion. Overview of Education Enrolments in the Region It is useful to have an overview of the size of sectors and instutitions in terms of enrolments. Schools: In 2003, in schools and colleges across the region, 1,035 students were enrolled in Year 10, 726 in Year 11, and 635 in Year 12. TAFE Tasmania: In 2003, in the various TAFE Tasmania campuses across the region, 6,481 students were enrolled, 851 of them full-time, and 5,630 part-time. Programs included accounting, agriculture, asset maintenance, automotive, business, clothing production, community services, conservation, construction, drilling, education, electrotechnology, engineering, English, financial services, food processing, forest & forest products, furnishing, hairdressing, horticulture, hospitality, IT, library and information services, mining, museum practice, occupational health &
11 Ibid 12 N. Jackson, Demographic and Socio-Economic Report: The Population of the Cradle Coast, p. 5 13 Cradle Coast Regional Profile, p. 8 14 Ibid
safety, plastics, retail, seafood industry, security, textile clothing & footwear, tourism, transport, volunteer, water industry. The count by campus and mode of attendance is set out in the following table.
Campus Full-Time Part-Time Total Burnie 492 2,771 3,263 Nth Terrace, Burnie 64 508 572 Devonport 278 2,044 2,322 Queenstown 6 112 118 Smithton 11 195 206 Total 851 5,630 6,481 The University of Tasmania: In 2004, some 488 students were enrolled at the Cradle Coast Campus at Burnie, a 22% increase from 2003. Of the 2004 students, 307 were full-time and 181 part time. The 2004 enrolment was 275.5 EFTSUs.15 Of the 2004 students, 63% of the students were 25 years old or more, and we understand that less than 50% of them live in Burnie. The University’s Vice-Chancellor recently announced that “By 2010, the target student enrolment on the (Cradle Coast) campus will be triple the 2003 enrolment”.16 This proposed increase – to 1,200 enrolments - creates opportunities for people in the region, for the University, and potentially for people outside the region who might wish to come to the University. Northern Group Training: In 2004, the region’s major Group Training Company, Northern Group Training, was employing some 140 apprentices and 400 trainees in the Cradle Coast region. The Senior College System The secondary schools in most towns in the region finish at Year 10. To go on in a stream that gives university access, students need to change schools, and many have to leave home. There are only two senior secondary colleges in the region – one in Burnie, the other in Devonport. Some students move to Hobart or Launceston at this stage. Up to the present time, this need to change schools after year 10 has given students and their families a real option to leave school at that stage. It has been a natural ‘break’ in the education process. For most students, the end of Year 10 has also coincided with the end of compulsory education. It is likely that the arrangement has contributed to a situation where more students might have left at that stage than would otherwise be the case. We are told that some students have difficulty in developing a feeling of belonging at Senior Colleges.
15 The above figures are from the Statistics section of the University’s website. 16 UTAS Press Release, 12 October 2004.
Some figures that have been provided to us indicate that ‘apparent retention’ rates for the region in recent years have been as follows.
• From 2001 to 2003, the retention rate from Year 10 to Year 12 was 51.8%, compared to 50% from 2000 to 2002.
• From 2002 to 2003, the retention rate from Year 10 to Year 11 was 69.5%,
compared to 75.2% from 2001 to 2002, and 74.8% from 2000 to 2001. We understand that there are significant differences between the retention rates from Year 10 to Year 11 as between different high schools in the region.
• From 2002 to 2003, the retention rate from Year 11 to Year 12 was 68.9%,
compared to 66.8% from 2001 to 2002, and 64.9% from 2000 to 2001. A set of figures sourced from Schools Australia indicate that the apparent retention rates from Years 10 to 12 Australia wide in 2003 were 76.9%, and for Tasmania as a whole 76.2%. It is not clear to what extent the various sets of figures are comparable, but there is certainly an appearance that retention is a significant issue in the Cradle Coast region. The Post-Year 10 ‘Leaving School’ Syndrome The idea of leaving school after Year 10 is a sufficiently well established practice for parents with children in primary school to be asked to complete surveys about it. The following table, based on parent responses about their expectations for their children, provides useful information.17 Expectations to
Complete Year 10 (Only)
Expectations to Complete Year 12
Expectations to Complete Beyond
Year 12 %
Primary School One 12 25 63 Primary School Two 10 40 50 Primary School Three 15 44 41 Primary School Four 15 32 53 Primary School Five 9 30 61 Primary School Six 0 34 66 Primary School Seven
4 52 39
High School One 14 27 69 High School Two 14 32 54 Noteworthy points are:
- there is considerable variation as between parents at different schools, suggesting that attitudinal factors are relevant and that attitudes can change;
- in most schools, 10-15% of parents do not expect their children to complete beyond Year 10.
17 Names of schools are omitted for confidentiality reasons.
The situation will change with an incoming lengthening of the period of compulsory education. Connected and Disconnected Young People A practitioner from the region has suggested that there are some 70 young people with predominantly negative attitudes in one centre of the region alone. By extension, this indicates there may be 300-400 such people in the region as a whole. Such levels of negativity are not unique to the Cradle Coast region. But smaller communities can more easily feel a sense of responsibility in relation to it, and a desire to do something about it – they may also have a greater capacity to do something about it. Sport is a traditional recourse, but one comment to us is that there has been a turn away from traditional sports – although 60% of relevant populations still takes football (Aussie Rules) seriously. It is therefore appropriate to consider building up connections through a broader range of activities – skateboarding, dance, drama and other cultural activities. The Compulsory Years of Education The newly legislated position, which will come into effect with students who complete Year 10 in 2007, is as follows.
“All young Tasmanians who have completed grade 10 or have turned 16 (the current minimum leaving age) will be required to participate in education and training for:
- a further two years; - until they have gained a Certificate 3 vocational qualification, or - until they have turned 17.”18
Our understanding is that at the minimum, this adds one year to the minimum ‘school’ leaving age. It will be useful to monitor the difference makes both to attitudes and to retention rates. Current Initiatives in the Region Much is happening in the region. Initiatives and innovation are being spurred by the Stronger Learning Pathways initiative and the Tasmanian Government. Without attempting to list every program, initiatives that are obviously relevant to this project include19:
- the Arthur District Student Pathways Project, including appointment of Student Pathway Officers and Personal Futures and Transition Officers;
18 Information provided by Mr Carey McIver, Barrington District Superintendent. 19 See Stronger Learning Pathways Initiative Progress Report, August 2004, p. 3 & passim
- the Barrington District Personal Futures Project, which incorporates
- the Central Coast School-Business Alliance project;
- the Learning Leading project in the Circular Head district - including
appointment of a ‘Change Leader’ in Circular Head to promote attitudinal change;
- the University of Tasmania’s project on ‘Skilling the Cradle Coast Community
for the Twenty-First Century;
- the Creative Pathways Program, which facilitates transition from TAFE to university;
- the establishment of community education committees, and conduct of
- new TAFE Tasmania appointments for Rural and Remote Delivery, and Community Relations, and a new University of Tasmania appointment of a Community Engagement Officer.
Institutions themselves feel that they have adopted a much stronger service orientation than existed in the past. Curriculum reform is in train in schools, designed to engage students more effectively, and encourage greater development of thinking skills. The UTAS Cradle Coast Campus has initiated several successful region specific programs: flexible learning programs; a school holidays programs for (125) primary school students; the ‘Do It For Yourself Program’ which has recruited more than 30 mature age students – and three times that many respondents - who would not otherwise have contemplated university study. UTAS has a Uni-Access program which provides advice to the community on accessing university websites. The Cradle Coast Campus has also launched an ‘Open Day Every Day’ program to replace the once a year open day concept. The Vice-Chancellor’s 12 October 2004 statement, cited earlier, also referred to new courses at the Cradle Coast Campus. TAFE Tasmania Campuses are putting measures in place to increase flexibility and responsiveness, and looking at ways to ‘do it better’. These measures include the E-learn and flexi-learn programs. Hybrid models of service delivery are being introduced to support students studying in isolation. Students in remote regions are able to obtain access to tutors at on-line access centres. MOUs are being established with RTOs to facilitate face-to-face communities of learners in remote areas. In summary, there is a significant presence of people employed in the region to foster ‘attitudinal change’. At the same time, the many initiatives that are underway allow people to express and take advantage of attitudinal change trends. Overarching this is a newly emerging enthusiasm among institutions for cooperation and working together. This institutional attitude should have a transforming impact, because it will meet two essential conditions of real progress in the education and
training area – attracting people to come through the door, and providing services that keep them coming back for more. Key Factors and Insights Based on our consultation with people and institutions in the region, we believe that the following matters are important in understanding attitudes to education and training in the region, and that they need to form part of the ‘mix’ in developing strategies for change. Apprenticeships: Apprenticeships are viewed ambiguously within the community. Some people told us that there is a stigma attached to them. Others said that they are what many families want above all for their children. Still others have said that apprenticeships are thought to have ‘failed’ too many people, in the sense that they have left people stranded in mid-career. Our strong impression is that both the role and the nature of apprenticeships needs to be better understood - by employers, by institutions, and by the community. The same goes for traineeships – which are of course themselves ‘New Apprenticeships’ in Commonwealth parlance. Our overall impression is that there are too many clichés about apprenticeships; and that there is insufficient recognition of the need for multi-skilling in the learning experience that most apprentices undergo. Flexibility and Adaptability in the Region: The Cradle Coast region has been subjected to massive change, especially the change from secure employment to economic uncertainty. The economic structure of the region almost certainly means that it will continue to have ‘ups and downs’. This means, among other things, that the old certainties and stability are gone. Some communities find it difficult to adapt, when the new opportunities that change brings fall short of the old opportunities. Other communities have been able to make the problems into opportunities, and have thus benefited from the change. The reactions of different communities are no doubt partly a matter of attitudes, including attitudes to education and training. It was put to us by a significant number of the people whom we consulted that there is something of a cargo cult mentality and an expectation of handouts, especially in the west coast region.
- This mentality can devalue education and training. - It can lead to a situation where people fail to take proper advantage of the
opportunities that are available.
- It can lead to underlying self-doubt and lack of confidence. These are largely matters of attitude. One compelling comment in the course of our discussions in the region was that “If you have a positive attitude, you can get through’. The other side of this coin was another comment, that “Young people who set themselves clear aspirations usually leave’.
This needs to be balanced against a need to build community capacity, which has been eroded in earlier times by ‘big-brother’ firms, which essentially provided everything. On the west coast in particular, the challenge of increasing community capacity is increased by the fact that many of the new breed of employees in the mining industry will not live in the community, but will fly in for shifts. Partnerships involving industry and educational institutions, working with the community, have an important role to play in this regard, e.g. the partnerships involving tourism operators and TAFE Tasmania on the west coast. Program and Pathway Availability: There were some comments that it is particularly important to have the right education programs available in locations where people are suspicious of educational institutions. A better way of putting it is perhaps that educational institutions need to make it their business to create the conditions in which people in fragile locations can develop greater respect for education. This is consistent with the fact that educational provision is necessarily limited, and that people need to become skilled in taking advantage of available opportunities. Pathways are critically important, especially when career planning is being strongly supported. UTAS and TAFE Tasmania are addressing the issue, but effective pathways into each, as well as from each to the other, require painstaking attention. A related suggestion was that ‘whole of career’ planning needs to be built into post-secondary education. Institutions recognize the need for product development. For example, there is a view that associate degrees and more ‘cocktail’ courses would play a valuable role. Developments of this kind will make qualifications more accessible. In conjunction with greater use of procedures such as RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning), many adults will be able to see their way clear to taking up the challenge of further education. For many students, more support than has traditionally been offered must be an integral part of the product. Local Factors: The influence of local factors is not going away. Parochial differences need to be recognized and taken into account in campaigning for outcomes including ‘attitudinal change’. Work Experience and Part-Time Employment for Secondary Students: One person we spoke with in the region suggested that schools should consider preparing timetables that fit in with their students part-time work commitments. This was a ‘multi-faceted’ comment, which went both to the need for schools to be more service-oriented, and the value to senior secondary students of having a part-time job. The value is itself multi-faceted – it gives the students concerned practical experience, responsibility, a regular income, and self-esteem. Work experience is designed to have similar benefits – although it is limited in almost every way, and it is not the real thing. Ways of Learning: Developments in ways of learning relate closely to attitudes. Online learning looms large in this regard.
Our overall impression is that the jury is still out on the effectiveness of online learning.
• We received several comments to the effect that the results of online learning have been poor at the secondary level to this point.
• At the same time, ‘young people can learn digitally, provided they have a positive attitude’.
• A different but not inconsistent take is that where support is provided – such as occasional face-to-face contact with tutors, and development of communities of learners in remote areas – online education is proving tremendously successful.
Educational institutions were not always sure how to answer a question about whether they teach their students how to learn online. While the institutions make no serious claim to teach this skill at this time, they recognise the need for it – in the future, if not now. Educational Institutions, and Employers: Educational institutions are becoming more responsive and flexible - more committed to adapting to the region’s special conditions, and meeting its special needs. This connects with more flexible delivery, co-operation, a willingness to develop pathways. As someone put it, ‘educational institutions need to link what happens in schools with other things’. At the same time, there is not enough outcome auditing. Educational institutions do not sufficiently see themselves as service providers to employers, i.e. providing work-ready employees, as well as meeting student needs and interests on the one hand, and being faithful to their own disciplines and standards on the other. The idea of educational institutions working more closely with Job Network – which was put forward by one of the institutions – would be a practical initiative offering mutual benefit. We were often told that employers expect graduates – whether from secondary or tertiary institutions – to be work ready. All parties need to work on this. It links with the idea, mentioned elsewhere, of greater secondary student participation in part-time work. Pre-employment and pre-apprenticeship programs – e.g. 6-8 weeks in length - can play an important role, but they need to be the right programs. So far as employers own training is concerned, we have been told that the current VET system works better for big and medium sized business than it does for small business. Employers need to recognize that education has changed. An increasing acceptance of good business practice could drive demand for a lot of education. Technology: It is accepted that the region needs to take advantage of technology in educational provision. At the same time, people are not clear about how it will function, how it will be provided, or what the real benefits will be. A classic comment displaying a positive attitude was made by a newly enrolled mature age student, who, when asked why he liked the idea of interactive online lectures, replied: “We are always behind in NW Tasmania – but by having these lectures, we’ll be ahead when video phones come in”.
An important implication of the advent of technology is the need to avoid inappropriate education infrastructure. Flexible infrastructure will not only encourage collaboration and cooperation between institutions, it will also help to break down barriers to education among people who are nervous about entering an education institution. Technology brings unexpected and unintended consequences. Many mature-age adults are enrolling into education programs that can be accessed through the online centres in the region. It was expected that the places made available would be taken up by younger people. One-Liners: We received many comments that are best included on a ‘stand-alone’ basis. They relate to a variety of areas.
- ‘TAFE is insufficiently marketed.’ - ‘The educational pathways are just not there – especially in a place like
- ‘Communities need to work out their own solutions.’
- ‘Too many children stagnate in schools.’
- ‘Good education in the region is a prerequisite of attracting new families with young children.’
- ‘Keep in mind that hostile attitudes to education often come from people who
have not done well at school.’
- ‘Parents involve themselves most in the early years of education, so that is the best time to target them.’
- ‘The story of people’s lives will inspire young people to educate themselves
- ‘Poverty and transport are huge in children dropping out of education.’
- ‘Universities market too much to schools.’
- ‘Self-employment is a hugely important option in the future in this region.’
- ‘Employers need support in taking on training responsibilities.’
- ‘People have to want to change.’
- ‘Link education with other organizations – young people still hang around footy clubs.’
Analysis of Current Attitudes Survey Analysis: Attitudes of People and Institutions in NW Tasmania to Education and Training It was recognized from the outset of the project that the prerequisites of a campaign for attitudinal change include:
(i) a statement of what attitudes the campaign should seek to break down, and (ii) a statement of what attitudes the campaign should seek to inculcate.
Discussions with the Reference Group resulted in the production of two lists. The first contained 13 ‘negative’ attitudes. The second contained 22 ‘positive’ attitudes. A number of the attitudes in each list are closely related. These are dealt with together in the ensuing analysis. Quantitative opinion research was conducted to investigate a number of relevant matters. These included:
• the extent to which, and the strength with which, both the positive and the negative attitudes are held within NW Tasmania;
• a variety of matters, including demographic factors, that are related to
attitudes to education and training; and
• likely influences and ‘drivers’ of attitudes to education and training. Because of the variety of matters being investigated, and the desirability of minimizing ‘motherhood’ responses, the questionnaires did not directly seek responses on each of the 35 ‘negative’ and ‘positive attitudes. The relevance of the responses to each of the attitudes is analyzed below. Four distinct but overlapping questionnaires were distributed. The groups surveyed, and the number of respondents from each cohort, were as follows: secondary students (336 respondents); post-secondary students (85 respondents); community members, including parents, employers and community members unlikely to be in employment (94 respondents); and educational institutions (44 respondents). Details of the responses, the number of respondents, and related matters, are included in the Appendix. Use of the four questionnaires made it possible to survey a number of target groups, then compare results. A detailed report of the results of the questionnaires is included as an appendix. That report contains information that is likely to be of ongoing value in developing strategies and action plans for education and training in the region. The survey results give a series of snapshots. Furthermore, the survey questions are in a sense ‘made up’ even though they are based on consultations with people in the region. We therefore cannot be sure that the questions mean the same thing to the respondents as they do to us. A re-run of the same surveys in two or three years time
will provide invaluable supplementary information about changes and trends. A recommendation to this effect is included in the relevant section of the report. The surveys have produced an enormous amount of material that can be analysed in a many ways and viewed from many perspectives. One overall conclusion is that the results reveal that the so-called negative attitudes have little support among the groups surveyed, and that the so-called positive attitudes are generally well-supported, though in varying degrees. From this perspective, the task ahead is to modify and adjust. There is no need for a revolution in attitudes to education and training. It would be nice to construct a scoreboard, giving the results in terms of the extent to which the attitudes we are investigating are held or not held. For better or worse, responses are too complex for this to be possible. The following analysis of the results, together with related comments and information, provides an understanding of ‘where things currently stand’ in relation to the attitudes that are being focused upon. We start with the 13 ‘negative’ attitudes.
Analysis of ‘Negative’ Attitudes
Negative Attitude One: ‘Further education is not really necessary once you have finished school’. Secondary students were asked to indicate their agreement/disagreement, on a 9 point scale, with the virtually identical statement that ‘Further education is not necessary once you have finished school’. The mean score was 3.86, which indicates disagreement, but only moderate disagreement with the statement. It therefore seems reasonable to assume that the first ‘negative’ attitude has not insignificant currency among secondary students. The proposition was not directly tested among the other cohorts, but the community questionnaire tested the statement that “in general, post-secondary education is not worth the effort’. The mean score was 2.78, which indicates substantial, though not overwhelming disagreement. It therefore again seems reasonable to assume that the first ‘negative’ attitude will have some currency, even if not a great deal, among influential groups such as parents. Negative Attitude Two: Quality education is not really available in NW Tasmania The most directly relevant indicator of the strength of this attitude are the responses to one particular item of a question that asked respondents to indicate agreement/disagreement on a nine-point scale20. The item and the results were as follows:
Survey Question Secondary Students
20 1 = ‘Strongly disagree’, 9 = ‘Strongly agree’.
To get good education or training after you leave school, you need to leave NW Tasmania 4.81 4.44 5.14 4.87 While the three community cohorts do not agree, their disagreement is very weak. Based on these responses, the second ‘negative’ attitude may have substantial currency. The responses relate, of course, to post-secondary education and not to schools: but it is in connection with post-secondary education that the attitude gains its real bite. It is significant – and perhaps indicative of a lack of self-confidence – that the region’s education institutions themselves actually agree – by a very slim margin - to the proposition that people have to leave NW Tasmania to get good education after they leave school. Negative Attitude Three: ‘It would be too hard for me to do any more education myself;’ Negative Attitude Four: ‘I don’t feel I can get any further with education;’ Negative Attitude Five: ‘More education is “not for me;”’ Negative Attitude Six: ‘Further education is not worth the effort.’ Negative Attitude Seven: ‘I don’t need any further education personally;’ Negative Attitude Eight: ‘I am too old to do any more education;’ Negative Attitude Nine: ‘Further education is not worth paying for.’ These six attitudes are grouped here, partly because of similarities between them, and partly in order to compare the importance of three particular factors, namely the priority given to education, cost, education style, and age. In the light of the research, it does not appear useful to focus ‘action attention’ on any of the above attitudes as specifically formulated. Two key responses that are relevant are:
(i) that 6.3% of secondary student respondents say (in answer to survey question 6) that they do not plan further education; and
(ii) that 22.4% of community respondents say they do not want to undertake
further education or training. In the broader context, it is perhaps not so relevant that 22.4% of community respondents do not want to undertake further education as that 71.8% of these respondents say they would like to undertake further education21. There is further comment below about this 71.8%. But the 22.4% who do not want to undertake further education still require consideration. The 6.3% of secondary students who say they do not plan further education after they leave school also deserve consideration. The group is remarkably small. While we have no basis for inferring what factors motivate this group’s thinking, a number of the action recommendations should directly impact upon them.
21 There is further discussion below of the 71.8% who would like to do further education or training.
As to the reasons given by the 22.4% of community members who do not want to undertake further education, 82% say they do not have enough spare time, 41% say the cost is too high, 36% say they do not need to for work or personal improvement, 27% say there is nothing suitable or available near where they live, 18% say the things they are interested in are not available in NW Tasmania, and 18% say they feel they are too old22. (Please note that multiple responses were allowed with this item.) These reasons deserve analysis. They are considered under four headings as follows: priority, cost, style of education, and age. Each of them is discussed with reference to all four cohorts of respondents. Priority The very high response to the ‘no spare time’ option – especially in conjunction with the substantial response to the ‘no need for work or personal improvement’ - strongly suggests that education is seen by many of these respondents as an ‘optional extra’, rather than a necessity or a priority. The secondary student response to the proposition ‘Most people my age think that further education after secondary school is not worth the effort’ – which respondents disagree with only barely, with a mean score of 4.49 –is revealing. There are clearly some secondary students who agree that further education after secondary school is not worthwhile. It is significant in this connection that employers agree strongly with propositions including ‘the strength of my company/organization depends on regular, effective education and training’ (7.70 mean), ‘my company/ organization actively pursues education and training for its employees’ (7.92 mean), and ‘education and training is a good investment for my company/ organization’ (8.22 mean, with a low standard deviation). Particularly in the light of the priority that employers give to education and training, it may be important to emphasise that giving priority to education and training is a desirable attitude. Cost As indicated above, 41% of the 22.4% of community members who do not want to undertake further education said that the cost is too high. One particular response of a further 21.2% of community members - the sub-group who say they would like to undertake further education but are not sure if they can – re-enforces the importance of the cost factor. The mean response of this sub-group, on a 9-point ‘disagree/agree’ scale, to the item “I would like to be able to undertake further education, but the cost is too high” was 5.73. This was the highest mean agreement of the five options, although there was also a 2.3 standard deviation, and an 8.3% “Don’t Know” response. These factors all show that cost is a factor. Another community response that is relevant – this one from the whole community cohort - is the 7.02 mean response to the item that ‘Employers should be prepared to pay for further education and training for their employees.’
22 The four people who said they feel too old were all in the 31-50 age group.
Fees are also an issue with secondary students. The mean response, on a 9-point ‘disagree/agree’ scale to the item “It would be good to go to university, but it costs too much, with HECS fees and/or student loans” was 6.55. Another secondary student response that is relevant is the 6.34 mean response to the item that ‘Employers should be prepared to pay for further education and training for their employees.’ Fees are also an issue with post-secondary students. The mean response, on a 9-point ‘disagree/agree’ scale to the item “Further education is worthwhile, but costs such as HECS make it hard” was 7.42. Another post-secondary student response that is relevant is the 7.13 mean response to the item that ‘Employers should be prepared to pay for further education and training for their employees.’ Two points are plain. The first is that the costs of education are a highly significant issue. The second is that any view about what attitude people should take to the costs of education is likely to be controversial. It has to be said that the negative attitude that is under consideration, namely that “Further education is not worth paying for”, glosses over many of the real issues relating to cost. A cost-benefit analysis of further education that was relevant to the situations of major groups in the region would provide a basis in helping people in the region to form and develop attitudes relating to the cost of education. Style of Education So far as students – both secondary and post-secondary - are concerned, it is relevant in the context of ‘style’ that 27% of the total number of respondents say that their schooling is too theoretical. This finding is analysed in more detail below, and is picked up in our proposed objectives. There is nothing specific to suggest that community respondents who do not want to undertake further education think it would be too hard. Any attitude that education is too hard is likely to be held by secondary students who are not doing well at school, and by school-leavers and adults who (a) have not done well at school, and/or (b) think of ‘passing or failing’ as an inherent part of education and training. Relevant in this connection is the widely held view – which has if anything been confirmed negatively by our own consultations and related research - that competency-based assessment is little understood outside the education industry. Age Our findings are that age is a minor factor. As noted earlier, 18% of respondents who said they would not like to undertake further education or training if they would said that they are to old. Of the 21.2% of community members who say they would like to undertake further education but are not sure if they can, the mean response, on a 9-point ‘disagree/agree’ scale to the item “I would like to be able to undertake further education, but I am too old” was 4.13. This was the lowest mean score of the five
options – indicating that age is the least important factor - although there was also a high (2.98) standard deviation. Age might still be worth taking into account in a package of messages relating to attitudes to education. It certainly is a factor with some people. Negative Attitude Ten: ‘Education did not do me or my parents much good, so I don’t think it will do my children much good either.’ It was thought that as a result of structural change leading to trades and other trained people losing apparently secure jobs in the region in recent decades and being unable to find new employment, this attitude might need to be reckoned with. In fact, it holds little sway, as indicated by the strongly positive responses, especially from the community, on the first two questions below, the strongly negative responses on the third. The figures are means on a nine-point ‘agree disagree’ scale, with ‘strongly disagree’ as 1, and ‘strongly agree’ as 9.
Survey Question Secondary Students
Better education and training is good for our community and our economy 7.22 8.45 8.80 8.43 To get on in life you need a good education 6.72 7.38 7.82 7.66 Education and training are overrated as the path to success 4.53 3.13 3.05 3.72 The differentials between the 8.43 mean community response on the first item, and the community responses on the other items, may indicate that some people are unsure about whether further education and training ensures benefits for every individual. The fact that secondary students are significantly less convinced on each of these items than any of the other cohorts, while consistent with age-old attitudes of schoolchildren to school and education, nevertheless indicates that it would be unwise not to pay special attention to exercising appropriate influence on the attitudes of secondary students. Negative Attitude Eleven: ‘Some types of education are superior to others’. In the context of low regional participation rates, this attitude was not seen as a priority for the project. It is nevertheless an attitude that could, if widespread, dull commitment to education among those who could not reach the levels regarded as the most prestigious. The question that was asked made an assumption about what types of education might be regarded as the most prestigious, and it touched on the specific attitude only indirectly or marginally. The responses show that this attitude is not widespread or strong in the community. But it does appear to have some currency among secondary students, especially as the standard deviation is above 1.8.
Survey Question Secondary
Students Education Institutions
Doing a TAFE course is just as good as going to University in helping you be a better person
5.35 5.60 6.07 6.13
To the extent that the response is an indicator of the standing of types of education, it may be seen as adding emphasis to the widely recognized need to lift the profile of TAFE study in Australia generally. Negative Attitude Twelve: ‘Education does not require you to “put in” much – it is really “something that is done to you”.’ It has been thought that this attitude, the extent that it is present, would make it difficult to secure the commitment necessary to lift participation rates, and ensure good outcomes. The attitude was not directly tested in the questionnaires. But the item below addresses closely related issues, and the responses indicate that the attitude is not strongly or significantly held.
Survey Question Secondary Students
Job skills are a joint responsibility of employers, educational institutions, families and the individual 6.44 7.76 7.55 7.87 Negative Attitude Thirteen: ‘Education is not relevant to the real world: work and education are “different worlds”.’ This does not appear to be a widely held attitude. Indeed, a proposition that is close to being a direct opposite received the highest mean scores indicating agreement across all the cohorts.
Survey Question Secondary Students
Better education and training is good for our community and our economy 7.22 8.45 8.80 8.43 Our concluding comment on the thirteen ‘negative’ attitudes considered above is that they are not dominant in the thinking of the cohorts being tested. Nevertheless, there is evidence in the survey findings to suggest that they are real and present to various degrees and in various measures. There is also cause for caution, because some responses that appear to oppose the negative attitudes may not reflect the respondents’ real views. Against that background, we turn to the character and prevalence of the twenty two ‘positive’ attitudes.
Analysis of ‘Positive’ Attitudes Some but not all of these are opposites – or close to opposites - of the above ‘negative’ attitudes. In those cases, little additional analysis is required. Some of the ‘positive’ attitudes are, however, of a different type, and require substantially different consideration. Positive Attitude One: ‘Learning should never end.’ All four questionnaires asked a direct question on this attitude, with respondents asked to indicate their agreement/disagreement on a nine-point scale23. The results are given below.
Survey Question Secondary Students
Education is something that should never stop – it should be lifelong 6.21 7.75 8.84 8.16 The upshot is that this attitude appears to be widely, though not equally strongly, held. It is clear that the ‘lifelong education’ message has been effectively brought into public consciousness, especially in NW Tasmania. The most noteworthy – though probably not surprising - factor is that the mean is so much lower among secondary students than in the other cohorts. The challenge in relation to this attitude – if there is a challenge – is more to get people to commit to the implications of the attitude than to accept the attitude itself. The post-school hopes of secondary students provide a limited basis for inferring their position on this attitude. The figures are as follows, both for the total cohort and the sub-groups as indicated.
Jnr % Snr% City % Non-City %
Apply for university in the Region 8.8 8.8 9.0 12.7 6.6 Apply for university outside the
Region 34.4 30.3 44.0 40.7 31.0 Apply for TAFE in the Region 8.2 7.5 10.0 6.8 8.9
Apply for TAFE outside the Region 1.8 1.3 3.0 3.4 0.9 Apply for an apprenticeship 17.8 20.6 10.0 12.7 20.7
Get a job in the Region 4.8 4.4 6.0 5.1 4.7 Get a job outside the Region 3.6 3.1 5.0 3.4 3.8
Don’t know/not sure 15.1 18.0 9.0 10.2 17.8 Other 5.4 6.1 4.0 5.1 5.6
70% of the total hope to do further education when they leave school - 53% at University or TAFE, 17% through an apprenticeship – and a further 15% don’t know.
23 1 = ‘Strongly disagree’, 9 = ‘Strongly agree’.
Only 8% want a job, but not further education; this is closely aligned to the 6.3% who say they do not plan further education. As noted earlier, 72% of community respondents - a virtually identical proportion to the secondary student proportion – would also like to undertake further education if they could. This is consistent with the high proportion of mature age student enrolments at the Burnie Campus of UTAS. Positive Attitude Two: ‘The only way to keep up with change is to keep learning.’ Positive Attitude Three: ‘In the knowledge economy, everyone has to keep up to date’ The questionnaires again asked a directly relevant question.
Survey Question Secondary Students
To compete in the knowledge economy you need further education after secondary
school 5.89 7.41 7.67 7.04 Once again, the mean is substantially lower for secondary students than for other cohorts. It might have been expected that secondary students would have a better understanding and acceptance than the community as a whole of the imperatives of the knowledge economy. This appears not to be the case, although it is possible that the score reflects a degree of unwillingness to accept these imperatives. Positive Attitude Four: ‘Qualifications and learning create job opportunities;’ Positive Attitude Five: ‘You need an appropriate training to get the good jobs;’ Positive Attitude Six: ‘Qualifications & learning help people achieve their goals, especially employment goals.’ These attitudes are closely related - although there are significant distinctions between having a range of job opportunities, getting what are conventionally described at the ‘good’ jobs, and achieving personal employment goals. Several of the items tested – of which some have already been cited, and of which some are negative and some positive - relate closely to all three attitudes.
Survey Question Secondary Students
To get on in life you need a good education 6.72 7.38 7.82 7.66 Education and training are overrated as the path to success 4.53 3.13 3.05 3.72 To compete in the knowledge economy you need further education after secondary school 5.89 7.41 7.67 7.04 Too much education can give people an unrealistic 5.05 4.93 4.11 5.07
expectation about jobs and levels of pay These responses highlight that secondary students are not overly enthusiastic in their acceptance that education – especially post-school education - improves their employment prospects. Secondary students are willing to agree – as does the community – that too much education can create unrealistic job expectations. Secondary students are not far from agreeing that education and training are overrated as the path to success. It is easy to conclude that many secondary students would like an excuse to be able to discontinue their education as soon as school finishes. The results of a re-test of these items after the ‘compulsory’ school leaving age has been increased in Tasmania are likely to be revealing. Positive Attitude Seven: ‘I can further my education if I want to, no matter how old I am.’ As discussed in connection with the corresponding negative attitude, not many people consciously regard age as a barrier. Positive Attitude Eight: ‘Suitable learning programs are out there if I want them.’ The underlying meaning of this attitude is that people living in NW Tasmania who really want to study in the region can find, and fit into, programs that meet their needs. Overall, the survey responses indicate that a large proportion of the community does not hold this attitude. A more overt meaning relates to a more impressionistic attitude about whether the region – including, perhaps, specific locations – offers reasonable provision of learning programs. The survey responses indicate that such a view is not strongly held within the region. It is significant that, as noted already, staff from the institutions agree – just – that students have to leave NW Tasmania to get good education or training after they leave school. Parents also incline to this view more strongly than the rest of the community. Neither the secondary students, nor the post-secondary students, nor the community agree – quite – to this proposition. The following table sets out the mean responses on some immediately relevant items.
Survey Question Secondary Students
To get good education or training after you leave school, you need to leave NW Tasmania 4.81 4.44 5.14 4.87 There are enough opportunities in NW Tasmania if you want to take 5.81 4.94 5.49 5.37
on an apprenticeship There are enough opportunities in NW Tasmania if you want to do a TAFE course 6.03 5.59 5.91 5.87 There are enough opportunities in NW Tasmania if you want to do a university course 4.56 4.36 4.09 4.70 There is nothing approaching strong agreement with propositions about the provision of education and training in the region. It is worth noting two mean responses of community members who would like to undertake further education but who are not sure if they can. The response – especially the standard deviations – indicate considerable uncertainty; but the mean responses certainly do not reflect any feeling that there are satisfactory options.
Item Mean Standard Deviation
Don’t Know %
I would like to be able to undertake further education, but there is nothing suitable available near where I live/work 5.09 2.592 4.2 I would like to be able to undertake further education, but the things I am interested in are not available in the NW Region 4.91 2.172 4.2 Two further responses are also relevant to attitudes about the adequacy of the education and training programs on offer in the region. These responses are in the questions about current education and the way programs are run. The particular matters addressed are the contrasts (a) between the theoretical and the practical content of programs, and (b) between the structured and the informal conduct of programs. It may be that these have the potential to be ‘make or break’ issues for students. For example, some impressionistic evidence provided to us by the principal of a regional school in Victoria indicated that the introduction of a “VET-in-schools” program had increased the retention rate of boys in the school in the critical years (year 10-11, and year 11-12), by approximately 10% pa for at least two years. Programs, Classes, etc., are:
Year 9-10 Secondary Students
Year 11-12 Secondary Students
City Secondary Students
Non-City Secondary Students
All Secondary Students
26.5 28.7 24.8 28.1 26.9 27.4 12.5
About Right 55.9 59.8 59.0 56.1 57.1 69.9 85.0 Too Practical 3.3 2.3 3.8 2.6 3.0 1.4 0.0 Don’t Know 14.2 9.2 12.4 13.3 13.0 1.4 2.5
16.6 12.8 15.9 15.0 15.3 10.0 11.4
About Right 55.9 59.8 67.3 63.8 65.0 85.0 81.8 Too Informal 9.0 6.4 3.5 10.6 8.1 2.5 4.5 Don’t Know 13.0 7.4 12.4 10.6 11.3 2.5 2.3 Thus approximately one quarter of students think that their current education programs are ‘too theoretical’. This is a large proportion. By comparison, one eighth of staff at the educational institutions think their programs are ‘too theoretical’. The highest proportion who think the programs are too theoretical are among the Year 11 & 12 students – 28.7%. The second highest proportion who think the programs are too theoretical are the non-city secondary students – 28.1%. Among the secondary students, approximately one eighth – less in the case of Year 11 & 12 students – say they don’t know whether the programs are too theoretical. A slightly higher proportion of non-secondary students than secondary students think their programs are too theoretical – 27.4% compared to 26.9%. A lower, but still substantial proportion of students find their current education programs ‘too structured’. The proportion among secondary students is 15.3%. The highest proportion (16.6%) is among the Year 9-10 students; it is noteworthy that a relatively high proportion of this cohort - 9% - say their programs are too informal, and that a further 13% say they ‘don’t know’. It is also interesting that over 10% of the non-city secondary students think that their programs are ‘too informal’. Very high proportions of educational institution staff think they have the balance right, both in terms of the ‘theoretical/ practical’ contrast – 85.0% -, and the ‘structured/ informal’ contrast - 81.8%. Positive Attitude Nine: ‘School & work go hand in hand.’ It is useful to consider two separate perspectives on this attitude. We will first consider what we take to be the normal – possibly old-fashioned - interpretation, namely that what people do while they are schoolchildren will be relevant after they leave school and join the workforce. We will then consider a second interpretation, which picks up on the idea of linking study with part-time work. (i) Construing the first interpretation broadly, this attitude is close to the opposite of negative attitude thirteen, namely that ‘education is not relevant to the real world: work and education are “different worlds”.’ The evidence cited above to show that the negative attitude was not widely accepted is equally relevant in showing that this positive attitude is widely and strongly held. The proposition in question, which is cited immediately below, received the highest mean scores indicating agreement across all the cohorts.
Survey Question Secondary Students
Better education and training is good for our community 7.22 8.45 8.80 8.43
and our economy Among secondary students, the proposition is significantly more strongly supported among city students (7.64) than among non-city students (6.99). It is noteworthy that there is stronger agreement among secondary students on this impersonal proposition than on a number of broadly similar and more personal propositions linking ‘school and work’. Thus, compared with the 7.22 mean support for the above statement, there is only 6.72 mean support for ‘To get on in life you need a good education’, and only 5.78 mean support for ‘Most people my age think that getting a good education is the most important thing for their future’. Similarly, there is only mild – 4.53 - mean disagreement with ‘Education and training are overrated as the path to success’, and even milder – 4.49 - mean disagreement with ‘Most people my age think that further education after secondary school is not worth the effort’. Our view is that these results suggest that the attitude of a lot of secondary students is that “I myself do not necessarily need to go much further with education to get a good job and be successful”. (ii) We turn to the second interpretation, which picks up on the idea of linking study with part-time work. While secondary students were not asked whether they had part-time jobs, anecdotal evidence indicates that many of them do. The following two propositions were put to all four cohorts as part of the question about ‘how important some things are in encouraging young people to go on to further education after school’.
Survey Question Secondary Students
Availability of part-time jobs near where people are studying 6.85 7.37 6.82 7.32 Getting regular income by having a part time job 6.89 7.48 6.43 7.18 The relationships and dynamics between study and part-time work are clearly of large and growing importance. Part-time work is more important to post-secondary than it is to secondary students. But it appears to be very much present in the thinking of secondary students nevertheless. Positive Attitude Ten: ‘Education is very relevant in helping people deal with “real world” problems;’ Positive Attitude Eleven: ‘Education is a broadening experience;’ Positive Attitude Twelve: ‘My education enhances my community;’ Positive Attitude Thirteen: ‘Education empowers people.’ These attitudes all focus on what would generally be regarded as the broad and/or non-economic value of education. It is probably fair to say that many people would find it difficult to give a precise meaning to any of these attitudes, or to distinguish
clearly between them. In an era when education is widely regarded – including by policy-makers – as essentially vocational, when ‘learning for the sake of learning’ is old-fashioned, and when non-vocational subjects are generally out of favour, there are many people for whom these ways of thinking do not come easily. One proposition was included in the four questionnaires to obtain responses from all four cohorts responses in relation to the above attitudes.
Survey Question Secondary Students
Better education means you can deal with life’s problems more easily 4.82 5.52 5.82 5.60 As shown by this table, the secondary students disagree – though not strongly – with the proposition that better education means you can deal with life’s problems more easily. The other three cohorts have indicated only minimal agreement. There are two conclusions to be drawn from these results. The first is that education is not widely viewed or thought of in the terms proposed. The second is that when people do consider education in these terms, they have little confidence in its capacity to ‘deliver’. It appears that the four ‘positive’ attitudes under consideration here are not widely held. It also appears that relatively few education institution staff will have these attitudes – or purvey them in the course of their professional activities. They may talk about education as ‘broadening’ or ‘empowering’, but our impression is that they would hesitate to say they help people to deal with “real world” problems. Positive Attitude Fourteen: ‘Retraining is the way to handle unemployment.’ We put a statement to this effect into all four questionnaires, with the following results.
Survey Question Secondary Students
The answer to unemployment is to provide re-training and other education to unemployed people 6.22 6.87 6.75 6.96 This indicates reasonably strong agreement ‘across the board’. It would not be possible, however, to infer the extent to which the attitude would be held by a number of relevant cohorts from the population, especially long-term unemployed groups. Positive Attitude Fifteen: ‘Education institutions are professional service providers.’
To the extent that this is a statement of an attitude, it is about what education institutions should be as much as what they are. It asserts that quality educational institutions have two distinct characteristics, which do not always combine easily. The first is that quality educational institutions are service providers. As such, it is incumbent on them to be highly responsive to the wants as well as the needs of their markets. The second is that quality educational institutions are professional bodies. As such, (i) they have responsibilities to set and maintain their own standards, and (ii) they should provide services of the highest standards to meet their clients’ needs. This attitude therefore has implications about the need for mutual respect between institutions and students. It has implications about the disciplines that educational institutions need to impose upon themselves as well as their students. It has implications about the need for operational processes and practices that meet the imperatives of modern life in NW Tasmania as well as an institution’s own requirements. To test the prevalence of this attitude, and to explore some of its dimensions, we sought responses from post-secondary students and educational institutions on a number of topics as set out below. Some of the topics relate only to education institutions. Respondents were asked: “How would you rate your educational institution? Using the following scale please write a number in each box, to show how you feel.” The scale was a nine-point scale from ‘very poor’ to ‘very good’. Post-Sec.
Post-Sec. Stud. S.D.
S.D. Oriented to education quality 7.53 1.501 7.86 1.207 Professional in approach 7.75 1.413 7.77 1.306 Responsive to student needs 7.16 1.728 7.11 1.631 Oriented to ‘market needs’ 6.68 1.856 6.79 1.523 Innovative 6.90 1.744 6.93 1.580 Flexible in its teaching methods
1.245 Strongly committed to standards
1.484 Flexible on entry requirements
1.514 Overall, the results indicate that at the post-secondary student and the institutional levels, the attitude itself is reasonably widespread, and the issues involved in it are very well understood. Several comments are in order.
• The mean results for both cohorts are remarkably close. It is fair to say that the student responses confirm that the institutions are both professional and reasonably oriented to service provision, and that the institutional responses confirm that the students respect the institutions’ professionalism and service orientation appropriately.
• It stands out that all the scores on the professional topics are in the ‘7’s, whereas all the scores on the service provision topics are in the ‘6’s. This indicates that the institutions are in no way ‘selling out’ to market considerations, and that they are achieving some sort of balance between ‘professionalism’ and ‘service provision’, with the former taking precedence.
• The standard deviations indicate that there are significant, though not extreme,
variations in opinion, but this is to be expected on topics where objective criteria are largely in abeyance.
Positive Attitude Sixteen: ‘Education and training, combined with technology, can put NW Tasmania ahead’. We included two relevant statements, one of them explicitly covering the major component of this attitude, into all four questionnaires. The results are as follows.
Survey Question Secondary Students
NW Tasmania would benefit if more local people took education and training courses in the Region 6.08 7.49 7.16 7.32 The best investment we could make in the Region is in education and training 5.82 6.99 6.77 6.91 The results indicate several conclusions. One, based on their substantially lower mean scores, is that secondary students have less confidence than other cohorts in both the region and in education. A second is that the other cohorts, especially post-secondary students, are willing to express considerable confidence in the region. A third is that these other cohorts link their confidence partly, though not totally, with education. Granted that all four cohorts respond less positively to the proposition that education and training would be the best investment for the region, it is challenging to ask – though no answer is available – what they think would be the best investment. The confidence that people have in education and training cannot of itself be extended to assuming that those who agree reasonably strongly with the statements believe that NW Tasmania can be expected to ‘get ahead’ - in the sense of overtaking more prosperous and dynamic regions. Nor do the questions above establish the link with technology that the attitude includes. But in a broad sense, it is fair to say that this attitude is reasonably prevalent, and that it strikes a chord in important sections of the community. Positive Attitude Seventeen: ‘Learning is a shared responsibility.’ Positive Attitude Eighteen: ‘Employers and employees have a shared responsibility for training.’ Positive Attitude Nineteen: ‘Ensuring that today’s young people have good employment skills is a joint responsibility of employers, educational institutions, families and young people themselves.’
These attitudes are all concerned with responsibility in relation to learning, skills, training and education. Attitude seventeen is extremely broad, and agreement with it means that the finger cannot be pointed at any single body or person for unsatisfactory outcomes. Attitude eighteen is to do with both employers and employees having to ‘put in’ for training to be satisfactory. Attitude nineteen makes the point that a specific group of players – families, education institutions and employers as well as the individual person – have to ‘put in’ and contribute to employment skills, i.e. the basic skills and capabilities without which it is virtually impossible for young people to obtain jobs or hold onto them. A series of questions and items from the questionnaires are relevant.
Survey Question Secondary Students
Job skills are a joint responsibility of employers, educational institutions, families and the individual 6.44 7.76 7.55 7.87 Employers should be prepared to pay for further education and training for their employees 6.34 7.13 6.86 7.02 Overall, strong agreement with both propositions is what comes out of these results. The indication is that the community is very much at home with the three attitudes in question. It is noteworthy that agreement is stronger – with three sets of respondents it is significantly stronger - with the ‘joint responsibility’ statement than with the ‘employer to pay’ statement. There is no apparent reason why the secondary student mean result should be so much below the others – although the secondary student means are generally below the other cohorts - unless these students felt they were not sufficiently close to ‘the action’ to have strong views. While they may not be statistically significant, it should perhaps not go unnoticed that the mean ‘agree’ scores of the educational institutions are somewhat below those of the post-secondary students and the community on these statements about responsibility. The responses in the next table, which come from post-secondary students and educational institutions, relate directly to key aspects of the three attitudes we are considering. Respondents were asked to rate their educational institution, using a nine-point scale from ‘very poor’ to ‘very good’, on the extent to which it is: Post-Sec.
Post-Sec. Stud. S.D.
S.D. … Committed to developing employment skills
While both mean responses are on the ‘good’ rather than the ‘poor’ side, they are not so strong as the responses above in relation to job skills being the responsibility of
several groups including educational institutions. It would not be legitimate to infer that the respondents feel that educational institutions are less committed than they ought to be. But the above responses are not unqualified on the ‘good’ side. There is some evidence from the standard deviations that some respondents feel that the commitment is not strong. The response below, from employers, relates directly to certain aspects of the above attitudes. Respondents were asked to rate the statement on the nine-point Agree/ Disagree scale.
Mean SD My company/organisation actively pursues education and training for its employees 7.96 1.261
The response indicates very strong employer commitment to education and training, and specifically to providing it. In summary, these three attitudes relating to responsibility in relation to education and training appear to be very much part of the ‘scene’. They are not as strong as they might be. Perhaps more significantly, it is not clear how much they influence behaviour. Positive Attitude Twenty: ‘Education and training is a worthwhile investment.’ The responses on the question below indicate that education and training is regarded not only as an investment, but as a good one by those who get involved in it beyond the minimum. The question being answered is about how important some things are in encouraging young people to go on to further education after school.
Survey Question Secondary Students
Higher probability of a good job if you do more education 7.10 8.20 8.09 7.90 The post-secondary students’ mean score of 8.20 for this item was the highest from this cohort for any of the items. It is of course one thing to think that education and training is a worthwhile investment, and another thing to be in a position to make the investment, or to give it priority. The financial aspect comes out clearly in the post-secondary students response to the statement that ‘further education is worthwhile, but costs such as HECS make it hard’. The mean score of post-secondary students on this question is 7.42 The response below, from employers, relates directly to this attitude. Respondents were asked to rate the statement on the nine-point Agree/ Disagree scale.
Education and training is a good investment for my company/organisation 8.22 0.795 The agreement of employers with this statement could hardly be stronger. A fair summary is that while the attitude that ‘Education and training is a worthwhile investment’ appears to be widely held, its impact on behaviour may be less decisive. Positive Attitude Twenty One: ‘My firm/ organization needs an appropriately trained workforce.’ Positive Attitude Twenty Two: ‘The strength of my firm depends on regular, effective training.’ The response below, from employers, relates directly to the above attitudes. Respondents were asked to rate the statement on the nine-point Agree/ Disagree scale.
Mean SD The strength of my company/organisation depends on regular, effective education and training 7.70 1.185
The response indicates strong employer recognition of the importance of education and training to the success of their companies.
Influences on Attitudes to Education and Training
The research focused more on what influences participation in education than on what influences attitudes to it. But we believe there is considerable overlap. Question Two in all surveys asked ‘how important some things are in encouraging young people to go on to further education after school’. All the items tested – and responses to them - are potentially relevant to attitudes to education and training.
Survey Question Secondary Students
Support of parents 7.93 8.01 8.41 8.34 Support of other family members 7.19 7.61 7.55 7.78 Having good experiences at school 7.20 7.49 7.98 8.01 Having good teachers at school 7.45 7.95 8.11 8.28 Having a good careers teacher 6.81 7.10 7.39 7.62 Encouragement of teachers 7.17 7.80 8.43 8.19 Taking part in activities like sport or music, etc. 5.92 5.88 6.70 7.28 Availability of part-time jobs near where people are 6.85 7.37 6.82 7.32
studying Getting regular income by having a part time job 6.89 7.48 6.43 7.18 Easy access to information about different education options 7.15 7.95 7.84 7.87 Higher probability of a good job if you do more education 7.10 8.20 8.09 7.90 Attitudes of friends in favour of further education 6.64 7.15 7.60 n/a Being able to go on to further education and still live at home 6.5024 7.59 6.98 n/a Being able to go on to further education and leave home 5.84 5.73 5.59 n/a Parental support tops all the lists. The other influences that stand out are good and encouraging teachers at school, beliefs about getting a better job, good experiences at school, and easy access to information about different education options. Other Survey Findings
Four of the additional matters investigated provide useful insights into the how people in NW Tasmania view education, and how they might be encouraged to participate in further education. Getting Information On Further Study Options The responses indicate clear patterns. The different markets have different emphases. Institutions will want to make certain that they take steps to give prospective mature age students the confidence to make a visit. In the table below, respondents could check more than one item.
From teachers / schools 66.4 44.7 10.0 79.5 Visiting TAFE/University 37.8 72.9 51.4 79.5
24 The only significant difference between the mean responses of junior and senior secondary students was in relation to taking part in activities like sport or music, etc., where the mean result for juniors was 6.09 and for seniors 5.56.
Brochures/booklets in the mail 31.3 36.5 50.0 40.9 On local radio 5.4 2.4 12.9 22.7 On television 10.7 2.4 12.9 34.1 In local newspapers 14.6 16.5 35.7 29.5 On the internet 34.8 29.4 40.0 63.6
Institutional visits, teachers in the case of secondary students, brochures, and the internet are the major sources. Local newspapers are much the most important form of mass media. The high rating for institutional visits strongly indicates that getting people through the door – which might often involve issues of confidence – is profoundly important. People appear to want multiple information sources. But they do not want the information to seem like advertisements. Full-Time or Part-Time? Responses on part-time versus full-time study indicate a fluid situation.
Sec Student Preference For Further
Post-Sec Student Actual
% Full time 46.2 70.7 11.9 Part-time 34.2 29.3 76.3 Don’t know 13.2 n/a 8.5 Do not plan further education 6.3 n/a n/a
It is significant that less than half of secondary students say they want to study full-time in further study. On the other hand, the proportion of post-secondary students who are actually studying full-time appears higher than the preferences of the two main markets would suggest. The ‘full-time/part-time’ divide comes across as significant, and carries an implication that timetabling is a significant challenge for institutions. Face-to-face or Online? With the proliferation of online education, the questions on this topic were partly included to establish a baseline. It is apparent that online education already enjoys substantial support. The secondary students and the community cohorts were asked how, in further education, they would prefer to study.
Preference % Community
Preference % All face to face 47.2 34.5 Mostly face to face with some on-line study 40.7 20.0 Mostly on-line with some face to face study 8.8 30.9 All on-line study 3.3 14.5
It is interesting that respondents from the community are more positive about online education than secondary students. Particularly in the light of some poor results achieved through online education programs – and some good ones where the relevant support was provided - it is important that people be taught how to study and learn online. Further Information on Mature Age Potential Students Most current post-secondary students (51.8%) are mature age, at least in the sense that they started their courses more than two years after finishing school. But there are of course many more potential mature age students in the community. The surveys have provided a range of relevant information. Viewing it broadly, the community respondents most likely to be interested in further education are likely to be 21-40 year old females who are in part time employment, and who already have post-secondary qualifications. The community responses to the question about where respondents would study next give a picture of open-mindedness about where they would like to study.
% At secondary school 5.4 At private course, CAE, etc. 17.9 At a TAFE 33.9 At a university 26.8 Don’t know 16.1
The next four charts separate out the people in the cohort who are interested in further education from those who are not. The left hand column in each of these charts gives the relevant percentage for those interested in further education, and the right hand column also includes those not interested. Age distribution
Those Who Would Like To Do Further Education
% Under 20 6.6 6.5
21-30 23.0 17.4 31-40 39.3 34.8 41-50 23.0 29.3 51-60 8.2 12.0 61-70 0.0 0.0 Over 70 0.0 0.0
Highest education level
Those Who Would Like To Do Further
Completed primary school 1.6 1.1 Completed some secondary school 11.5 12.9 Completed secondary school 27.9 28.0 Post-secondary certificate, diploma 39.3 38.7 Undergraduate degree 11.5 9.7 Post-graduate degree 8.2 9.7
Those Who Would Like To Do Further Education
% Work full-time 46.4 51.7 Work part-time 37.5 28.7 Home duties 16.1 19.5 Retired 0.0 0.0
Those Who Would Like To Do Further Education
% Male 31.1 35.5 Female 68.9 63.4
Further Information on Post-Secondary Students The next four charts provide a profile of post-secondary students which provides information both about them, and at the same time supplements the above information about what kinds of mature age people might enroll in further education programs.
% Part-time 43.8 Full-time 17.5 Not employed 37.5
What do you hope to do when you complete your current education?
% Get a job in the Region 59.0 Get a job outside the Region 14.5 Continue in my present job 13.3 Further study 12.0 Other 1.2
% Under 20 36.1 21-30 9.6 31-40 16.9 41-50 24.1 51-60 13.3 61-70 0.0 Over 70 0.0
Highest education level
% Completed primary school 2.4 Completed some secondary school 4.9 Complete secondary school 45.1 Post-secondary certificate, diploma 37.8 Undergraduate degree 8.5 Post-graduate degree 1.2
% Male 44.4 Female 55.6
Further Information on Secondary Students The views of secondary students about whether their schooling is too theoretical, and about whether it is too structured, were discussed earlier. These findings are potentially important in the context of developing strategies for attitudinal change. Another question of a similar genre has also provided responses that are both challenging and revealing. Q. Do you think that you should be able to learn about running your own business and
being an entrepreneur at secondary school?
All Secondary Students%
Year 9-10 Secondary Students %
Year 11-12 Secondary Students %
City Secondary Students %
Non-City Secondary Students%
YES 61.6 60.4 64.0 63.6 60.5 NO 10.2 9.6 12.0 6.8 12.1
Don’t know 28.2 30.0 24.0 29.7 27.4 It is noteworthy that twice as many respondents said yes to this question as said that their courses are too theoretical. The responses indicate both the high level of interest that students have about employment, and that many of them are willing to consider a self-employment option. In summary, the current situation in relation to attitudes is complex and diverse. At the same time, the information and understanding that has been provided offers a good basis for developing both objectives and strategies in relation to the creation of attitudinal change.