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Strategic Review of Effective Re-Engagement Models for Disengaged

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Strategic Review of Effective Re-Engagement Models for Disengaged

    Strategic Review of Effective Re-Engagement Models for

    Disengaged Learners

    Prepared for the:

    Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development

    by

    Merryn Davies, Stephen Lamb & Esther Doecke

    August 2011

Foreword

The Strategic Review of Effective Re-engagement Models for Disengaged Learners Report was

    commissioned by Skills Victoria on behalf of the Victorian Skills Commission‘s Access and Equity Committee and prepared by the Centre for Research on Education Systems (CRES), University of Melbourne.

    The report profiles the characteristics of low skilled, working age Victorians who have disengaged in education and training and documents effective practices and programs to re-engage them. The report also provides advice on programmatic costs, potential funding models and approaches to program evaluation. It draws on Australian and international literature and advice gathered through targeted stakeholder consultations, including on effective practice in Victoria.

    Those without qualifications at Certificate III or above are at a significant disadvantage in the labour market, increased risk of becoming marginalized from it and are more likely to experience social exclusion. Not only do such individuals face challenges in taking advantage of labour market opportunity in Victorian strong economy, they will be further disadvantaged as the Australian economy continues its shift towards knowledge-based activity.

    The introduction of the Victorian Training Guarantee progressively from 2009 and reformed policy settings in the Adult and Community sector have seen a significant increase in participation by individuals from disadvantaged groups which are heavily over-represented in the population without qualifications who have previously been less likely to participate in education and training. It is therefore more important that ever that effective practice exists in VET and ACE providers and the other service providers who support these clients. To that end the Report identifies the four critical elements of effective service delivery as outreach, wellbeing, pedagogy and pathways; as well as outlining the types of strategies available within these categories. It advocated a learner centric, wrap-around service delivery model.

    We recommend this report to all practitioners, program designers and policy makers who are working to re-engage disengaged and low skilled adults. I trust the report will be of use to you all. I would like to thank Professor Stephen Lamb and Dr Merryn Davies, CRES for their work in its preparation.

ROWENA ALLEN KYM PEAKE

    Chair Deputy Secretary

    VET Access & Equity Advisory Committee Skills Victoria

    Victorian Skills Commission

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures .............................................................................................................. iii

    Executive Summary........................................................................................................................ v

1. Introduction ............................................................................................................................ 1

    Importance of the review ........................................................................................................... 1

    Key target groups ...................................................................................................................... 2

    Method for the review of effective strategies ............................................................................. 4

    Structure of the report ............................................................................................................... 5

2. The numbers of disengaged learners ...................................................................................... 6

    Disengagement and age ............................................................................................................. 7

    Disengagement and gender........................................................................................................ 9

    Disengagement and location .................................................................................................... 10

    Disengagement and labour market attachment ......................................................................... 12

3. Characteristics of disengaged adult learners ....................................................................... 15

    Backgrounds and needs of disengaged adult learners ............................................................... 15

    Responding to the individual learner: typologies of learners and need ...................................... 19

    Conclusion .............................................................................................................................. 20

4. Effective interventions for disengaged learners ................................................................... 22

    Framework for grouping interventions .................................................................................... 22

    Outreach ................................................................................................................................. 23

    Wellbeing ............................................................................................................................... 28

    Pedagogy ................................................................................................................................ 32

    Pathways ................................................................................................................................ 38

    Summary: identifying effective programs ................................................................................ 48

5. Funding models ..................................................................................................................... 52

    Cost implications of effective delivery strategies for disengaged learners ................................ 52

    Estimates of program-based costs ............................................................................................ 55

    Needs-Based Funding ............................................................................................................. 61

    Needs-Based Funding model for Victoria ................................................................................ 65

6. Returns on investment .......................................................................................................... 68

    Goal-based evaluations of re-engagement programs ................................................................ 68

    Returns to investment across different groups of adult learners ................................................ 70

    Macroeconomic evaluations of costs and benefits .................................................................... 71

    References ............................................................................................................................. 72

    Appendix 1: Consultations with key agencies .......................................................................... 78

    Appendix 2: Experience with disengaged learners in Victoria .................................................. 79

    Appendix 3: List of Programs for Disengaged Learners ........................................................... 85

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List of Tables and Figures

Tables

    Table 2.1 Disengaged adult learners in Victoria, by age group and school attainment: 2006 ............ 8 Table 2.2 Activities of those not in the labour force, by age and gender: Australia, 2010 (%) ........ 13 Table 4.1 Strategies used by effective adult learner re-engagement programs ................................ 50 Table 5.1 Costs of implementing effective re-engagement programs ............................................. 57

Figures

    Figure 1.1 Labour Market Status, by Qualification level .................................................................. 2

    Figure 1.2 Year 9 achievement levels of Year 12 completers and early school leavers: 1998

    national cohort of Year 9 students ................................................................................... 3 Figure 2.1 Numbers and share of disengaged adult learners in Victoria ............................................ 6

    Figure 2.2 Disengaged adult learners in Victoria, by age group and gender: 2006............................. 9

    Figure 2.3 Regional Victorians unemployed or NILF and not in study (by region) ......................... 11

    Figure 3.1 Factors contributing to disengagement .......................................................................... 15

    Figure 4.1 Conceptual model of effective interventions .................................................................. 22

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Executive Summary

    This report presents the findings from a review undertaken to identify practices and strategies that work to help improve levels of educational participation and attainment of low skill and disengaged adult learners. Focussing on 15 to 64 year-olds who have not attained initial qualifications (Year 12 or equivalent) and are unemployed, not in the labour force or in low skill jobs, the review reports on the programs and strategies which have proven successful in helping this population engage in education and training and attain a qualification. The review is undertaken in the context of national attainment targets set by Australian governments to halve the proportion of Australian adults without qualifications at Certificate III level or above, and to increase the percentage of young people who complete Year 12 or its equivalent to 90 per cent.

    The review draws on national and international literature on the practices and strategies best suited to meeting the needs of low skill and disengaged adult learners, as well as information on effective programs obtained in a set of targeted consultations with key agencies at the forefront of service delivery for various groups of disengaged adult learners. The information that was obtained from the literature review and the consultations provides insights into the factors that lead to disengagement and the characteristics of the populations involved, as well as information on programs that have proven effective in re-engagement. There are many strategies or interventions that target low skill and disengaged adult learners. However, many have not been properly evaluated, or, due to their small scale or limited resourcing, may not be adequately documented. In most part, we have attempted to identify interventions that have been evaluated as effective with evidence of impact. Characteristics of disengaged learners

    Low skill and disengaged learners are drawn in disproportionately large numbers from key groups of disadvantaged Australians: the indigenous population, people with disabilities, early school leavers, the culturally and linguistically diverse including refugees, low skilled older Australians without any qualifications, and those from socio-economically disadvantaged families. They often report relationships with learning and training best described as disjointed and problematic. Key factors contributing to disengagement relate to four main areasaccess, achievement, application and

    aspiration: ; Poor prior experiences of learning ; Early school leaver ; Long periods without study ; Language, literacy and numeracy needs

     Achievement

     Access Aspiration Disengaged Learner

     ; No career plans ; Poor knowledge of study ; Limited networks options ; Poor information on work and ; No interest in finding out opportunities Application ; Low aspirations and confidence ; Lacking careers advice or planning ; Constraints on access ; Income support needs (distance, time, financial) ; Family commitments ; Disability/health problems ; Poverty ; English language needs ; Refugee status ; Living Circumstances

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    Due to their backgrounds and experiences, low skill and disengaged learners often confront limited access to study and training due to a lack of knowledge of education and training options and availability, limited interest and confidence in undertaking study, and constraints linked to costs, time, and transport. There are also issues of low achievement linked to failure at school, weak language,

    literacy and numeracy skills, learning anxiety, negative views of classroom teaching, and early school leaving. Barriers to participation continuously undermine application or commitment to study,

    barriers such as family commitments, low income, disabilities, health problems, refugee status, age, and childcare needs. Disengaged adult learners often have limited networks linking to work and community life which contributes to low aspiration to work or train, compounded by unformed career

    plans, limited information on the links between qualifications and work, and a lack of careers guidance and pathways planning.

    Effective approaches to re-engagement

    Given the high level needs, low skill and disengaged learners require targeted support across these dimensions in order to promote re-engagement. The review of national and international literature identified a range of programs and interventions that are effective in helping re-engage adult learners. Strategies identified fall into one of four categories related to the focus of the program and the conceptual foundations at play within effective programs: (1) outreach, (2) learner well-being, (3) pedagogy, and (4) pathways.

     PEDAGOGY

     PATHWAYS OUTREACH Effective intervention

     WELLBEING

    The first element, outreach, is related to the need to find some way of connecting with disengaged adults who may by socially and economically marginalised, in order to identify their needs and inform them of available options. Four strategies are used by effective re-engagement initiatives: providing easily accessible information, bringing learning to the learner, targeting high needs groups, and establishing lasting meaningful relationships.

The second element, well-being, is paramount to any successful intervention and needs identifying

    and addressing the welfare needs of disengaged people. Best practice interventions recognise that they are often dealing with people who have a variety of structural or situational obstacles that affect their capacity to participate in learning. Intensive support through guidance, counselling, monitoring and follow-up, taking a client sensitive approach to well-being, developing beneficial relationships within the community, the hubbing of services, and providing whole community or familial intervention are five essential strategies in addressing learner needs associated with well-being.

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    The third element, pedagogy, focuses on the approach to learning that is needed to take account of negative previous experiences of learning, failure at school, and avoidance of formal teaching and learning. Engaging pedagogy needs be designed with an understanding of what disengaged learners require, acknowledging their learning interests and building upon their pre-existing knowledge and skills. Four core strategies identified from effective programs are: making learning applied or hands-on, providing flexible learning options, addressing literacy and numeracy skill development needs and offering programs that integrate technologies.

    The fourth element, pathways, focuses on creating and presenting appealing and worthwhile pathways for learners that reach beyond the program and provide links to other study and to work and career development opportunities. Workplace programs are particularly relevant to the low skill workers who hold full-time or part-time jobs. The four strategies that fall under this element are: embedding pathways in the intervention program, establishing connections with community and other institutions, using intermediate labour market approaches, and integrating work based learning programs with other supports.

    The 17 strategies across the four elements are the basis for the most successful re-engagement programs. While the strategies appear to be independent, the prevention programs are most effective when they incorporate some or all of these strategies. An evaluation of programs to consider which could or should be implemented needs to consider how comprehensively and how well programs incorporate these elements and strategies.

    Various programs that contain these elements are identified and listed in the review. Funding models and costs of interventions

    Two different types of approaches are explored in assessment of program costs. The first is program-based and involves identification of the costs of the individual programs or strategies that have been effective in re-engaging adult learners with high level needs. The second approach focuses on system-level needs-based funding and discusses requirements at a system-level for resourcing providers in a way that will facilitate more effective delivery across the state, and promote higher levels of engagement and attainment.

Program-based Costing

    Costs of programs that have been developed to target the needs of marginalised and disengaged adult learners vary depending on the type of program. Some of the best and most effective programs, however, are multi-layered, responding to outreach needs, delivering teaching and learning sensitive to the disengaged learner, providing individualised care and well-being support, as well as information on links or pathways to employment. Programs range in cost from $294 per learner for an outreach program that has proven successful in helping engage adult learners to $24,425 per learner for a successful residentially-based program that leads to Year 12 equivalent qualifications. Needs based funding

    Needs based funding builds into resource allocation for service delivery a recognition of specific factors associated with learners that increases costs for providers if they are to achieve successful learner outcomes. It is used in various fields, such as aged-care, schooling, and employment services to deliver supplementary resources where there are higher needs linked to characteristics of

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    populations, locations or programs. Levels of supplementary funding can be assessed using provider characteristics, or on the basis of specific learner-assessed needs, such as disabilities.

There are important advantages to these models of funding:

    ; they set out universal procedures and entitlements for all providers in a system

    ; they allocate resources in a systematic way, empowering providers to implement learner-

    sensitive programs

    ; they acknowledge equity needs by reflecting differences in costs associated with differences

    in the characteristics of learners and programs

    ; they are transparent.

    Several examples of needs based funding models operating in other service delivery fields, including Aged Care, Employment Services and Schooling, have been reviewed to inform a mechanism that may be applied in Victoria to target the needs of disengaged learners.

    The key element is the recognition of high and additional needs of some learners through a weighted loading or supplementary amount allocated to providers who deliver services to disengaged learners. In the schools sector, this is achieved through a mix of provider-level funding supplements based on a student disadvantage index, such as the SFO, and learner-sensitive supplements based on individual learner characteristics, such as funds for students with disabilities.

    Similar indexes and approaches are required to support education and training providers in Victoria delivering services to high need learners, particularly disengaged adult learners. While parental occupation, which is used to construct the SFO index in the schools sector, may not be the most appropriate for the VET sector, other indexes may be. One example is provided by the 16-18 year-old and Adult Learner funding model developed in the UK where providers gain additional support based on their learner profile. Additional funds are provided using an index weighted by the English and Maths skills of learners as measured by point scores on relevant tests. The index used by Job Services Australia to assess work-readiness of jobseekersJSCI and JCAmay also be very useful,

    particularly in the case of disengaged adult learners.

    As with any system that provides targeted resources using broad-level funding formulas there remains the need for accountability in the use of funds. Increased resources requires increased scrutiny, to ensure that learner-sensitive funds are actually used to deliver additional learner support, with providers, where appropriate, implementing the sorts of effective learner supports that have proven successful with disengaged adult learners.

    Returns on investment

    In exploring costs and benefits of raising literacy levels of adult learners to a level considered necessary for full participation in globally competitive economies (a level comparable to secondary school completion), economists link skill and qualification acquisition to macroeconomic performance. This draws on work demonstrating long term relationships between skill levels and growth of GDP per capita. In Canada, for example, nearly $6.5 billion is projected as a cost of providing literacy training and up-skilling of low skill adult workers, encompassing large proportions of the adult population of Canada. However, benefits measured in terms of taxation revenue gains, and reductions in welfare, health and related costs, are estimated at roughly 251 per cent of that investment annually ($16.3 billion), based on productivity increases and savings on direct social expenditures such as assistance benefits (Murray et al., 2009). This means, in simple terms, at an

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    aggregate level for every dollar spent on intervention, there is a saving to government and community of approximately $2.50.

    It is important also to consider personal and social gains, as well as economic benefits. For some disengaged learners, particularly those in difficult circumstances associated with such things as drug dependency, health problems, disability, homelessness, and very poor literacy and numeracy skills, meaningful engagement in learning activities may well help improve their quality of life, if their other needs are met as well. Therefore, it is important for evaluations to consider the impact of participation on the individual learner using what are sometimes called ‗soft measures‘ or ‗intangibles‘ (non-monetary), such as increased morale, self-esteem and confidence, greater job satisfaction, greater participation and a willingness to continue study or undertake work-related training. Many of the programs discussed in this review have delivered important improvements in quality of life for individuals well beyond qualification attainment.

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1. Introduction

    This report sets out the findings from a review undertaken to identify practices and strategies that work to help improve levels of educational participation and attainment of low skill and disengaged adult learners. Focussing on 15 to 64 year-olds who have not attained initial qualifications (Year 12 or equivalent) and are unemployed, not in the labour force or in low skill jobs, the review reports on the programs and strategies which have proven successful in helping this population engage in education and training and attain a qualification. Effective programs and strategies were identified through a review of national and international research on relevant initiatives, and through a set of strategic consultations with key agencies at the forefront of service delivery for various groups of disengaged adult learners.

    Importance of the review

    A major concern associated with low educational attainment is its impact on participation in lifelong learning. Studies conducted overseas and in Australia consistently show that initial educational attainment has a strong relationship with later participation in education and training. Munn and MacDonald (1988), for example, in an earlier survey of adults in Scotland found that while 42 per cent of adults returned to some form of education and training (courses extending more than 6 months) only 23 per cent of those who were low-skilled workers did so. The rate for professionals and those in occupations requiring post-school qualifications was over 75 per cent.

    International comparisons of participation in further education and training have found that in nearly all countries examined the rates of take-up vary substantially by initial educational attainment (Belanger, 1999; OECD, 1998, OECD, 2000). In the United Kingdom, for example, over 60 per cent of those with a university degree were likely to participate in other forms of education and training beyond their initial qualification whereas less than 30 per cent of those who were early school leavers were likely to participate. Similar differences in rates of participation were documented in other OECD countries. In Australia, the rates were 55 per cent for those with a university qualification and 20 per cent for early school leavers. The patterns support the view that those who have more initially gain more across their adult lives.

    An analysis of factors influencing participation in further education and training, using ABS data from household surveys of education and training, reported that educational attainment exerted a strong influence on whether an individual participated in further education and training (Roussel, 2000). The study found that irrespective of the type of study or training (formal education, formal training, informal training) there was a higher probability of participation for those with higher levels of prior educational attainment. Participation in formal education was 27 per cent for those whose highest educational attainment was Year 10 compared to 60 per cent for those who held a postgraduate qualification.

    Low attainment is also associated with poor labour market outcomes and marginalised labour market status. Figure 1.1 shows that in 2009 workers with qualifications at Certificate III or above, were much more likely to be employed full time than were those with lower levels of attainment: nearly six in 10 were employed full-time compared to only 29.7 per cent of those who hold Certificate 1. Strategic Review of Effective Re-engagement Models for Disengaged Learners 1

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