School of Education

RAVE current research

Vet teaching workforce in Australia

Project for Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (KRIVET)

Researcher: Erica Smith

The project involves researching aspects of the VET teaching workforce in Australia, including the analysis of research data and government policies and reports.  The context is VET for adults and disadvantaged groups, not VET in secondary schools.

The project covers the following topics:

    • Working conditions of vocational training teachers, such as wages and working hours, compared with other occupations;
    • Qualifications and professional development for vocational training teachers;
    • Career development, career guidance, and career management for vocational training teachers.

Young futures: Education, training and employment decision making in non-metropolitan areas

Research team: Erica Smith and Annette Foley, with assistance from Helen Weadon and Tim Harrison

This project was funded by the Department of Education and Training (DET) Victoria as a Strategic Research Seed Funding Pilot 2018-19. It looked at how young people do, and could, imagine and navigate pathways related to post-school education, training and employment.

The study examined the processes young people in rural, regional and peri-urban areas go through as they make choices about their post-school trajectories, and will develop good practice models for communities, employers and education providers to support them. We were interested in the following questions:

  1. How do young people navigate decisions related to post school education, training and work, and what decisions do they make?
  2. Who are the influencers and how do they affect the decisions?
  3. What could change to provide better post school outcomes for a larger proportion of young people?
  4. What could change for communities and employers to better utilise young people's talents?

Rationale: Young people in regional, rural and peri-urban communities face particular challenges in 'imagining' and navigating their post-school futures. In particular geographical areas, choices may be constrained by economic dislocation, distance, and community or cultural issues. These locational factors may be compounded by individual disadvantage caused by low socio-economic status, aboriginality or recent migrant/refugee status. Communities also suffer if they are not fully utilising the considerable resource available in their young people.

Method: Building on a successfully completed pilot project in Western Victoria, the team interviewed key stakeholder groups, institutions and young people (at school and after having left school) in six Victorian communities. It is using the resultant data to develop good practice models for wider applicability, ensuring policy and practice impact.

The research field work concluded in May 2019 and is described in the following links. Feedback visits and data analysis are continuing.

The Executive Summary of the project is available here.

Learning to be greener

Research team: Erica Smith, Annette Foley and Morgan Wise

The ‘Learning to be greener’ project has been studying the way in which Australian adults are learning about specific changes in recycling and waste practices. During 2018, Australians’ daily lives changed quite a lot due to changes affecting plastic shopping bags and recycling practices. We are interested in how people learned about these changes and how people changed their behaviour.

This small pilot project is a sequel to the RAVE research group’s 2009 project ‘Learning to be drier,’ led by Barry Golding, which examined how people living in the Wimmera-Mallee region of Victoria learned how to manage with drier conditions and how they changed their behaviour.

The research comprised an initial focus group and expert interview, examination of publicly-available educational materials on these two matters, and an on-line survey carried out with a population of 1500 adults working at a number of campuses of a regional university.The project has now concluded. A conference paper on preliminary findings is attached here.

International projects on apprenticeship

Erica Smith has been leading several projects on apprenticeship, funded by the International Labour Organization (ILO), during 2017-2018. The ILO is a United Nations agency.

Erica was invited to give a keynote speech at an ILO event in Geneva in July 2018, which drew on much of this research ‘International Conference on Innovations in Apprenticeships: A Skilled Workforce for the Future’

For ILO’s Geneva office, a Discussion Paper on the Role of Intermediaries in Apprenticeship Systems. With the high level of ongoing international and national policy interest in apprenticeships, increasing attention is being paid to the role of third-party or intermediary organisations that undertake different roles and responsibilities in some systems. These types of organisations provide a range of services in apprenticeship systems, often focusing on improving the participation of SMEs and enterprises more broadly. Group Training Organisations in Australia are a prime example. However, there is currently no research that examines the different types of organisations involved, the scope of services they provide and the means by which they are funded. Erica Smith was asked to review literature and current practices, to identify good practices, and to develop a typology of these organisations by type, by the services they provide and by sources of funding. The final report of this project can be found at

For ILO’s Jakarta office, Research, Review and Development of a Revised Model of Quality Apprenticeship for Indonesia. This project involved Erica in interviews with stakeholders in and near Jakarta, and collaboration with ILO staff to produce a new model for apprenticeship in Indonesia, which were presented at a tripartite meeting in Jakarta in September 2017.

For ILO’s Bangkok office, 2017 Research and preparation of chapter for publication on Skills and Future of Work: Strategies for Inclusive Growth in Asia and the Pacific. This project has involved research and analysis on the role of apprenticeships in addressing youth unemployment. Erica presented the results at a forum in Bangkok in October 2017: the Regional Skills Meeting on Skills and the Future of Work: Strategies for an Inclusive Growth in Asia and the Pacific’. The forum consisted of international experts and tripartite participants from six countries. Feedback was incorporated into a final version which was disseminated through a book which was published by the ILO.

For ILO’s Geneva office, Erica Smith with the assistance of RAVE member Jackie Tuck, undertook a project Collaboration on ILO survey report of national initiatives to promote quality apprenticeships in G20 countries. This research project was on G20 countries’ policy initiatives on apprenticeships. This project involved the analysis of data from a survey sent by the ILO to three respondents in each country, representing government, labour unions and employer bodies. The context for the project can be seen in the G20 Hangzhou communique (item 40) at

View project report