Supported Pathways to Education and Employment: Building the Capacity of the Illawarra and South East Region
Lead University: University of Wollongong
Lead Researcher: Anne Snowball
Research Team: Anne Snowball
Year Funded: 2014
Funding Received: $299,721
This project aimed to improve the participation of low socioeconomic status (SES), regional and remote, and Indigenous people in higher education and employment. 350 individuals participated in a supported pathways program designed to enhance their academic capacity and post-school options to access higher education and employment. The project clearly articulated and streamlined pathways and progression between vocational education providers, higher education providers and employers.
- The project was to improve the participation of low SES, regional and remote, and Indigenous people in higher education and employment.
- This was achieved through providing 350 individuals from underrepresented backgrounds with opportunities to enhance their academic capacity and post-school options to access higher education and employment through a supported pathways program.
- The project clearly articulated and streamlined pathways and progression between vocational education providers, higher education providers and employers.
- Students who participated in a Supported Pathways program had the opportunity to complete Certificate III, Certificate IV and Diploma level courses with specific employment outcomes.
- The program strengthened working partnerships and linkages between the University of Wollongong (UOW) and its vocational and government partners.
- The Supported Pathways program was successful across a number of measures, including: regional engagement; number of students engaged with the program; success of the partnerships with vocational providers; and bridging and transition subject co-enrolment.
- Over 350 students participated in the bridging and transition program across UOW’s five campuses with 12 vocational providers. Students gained a meaningful qualification with their provider that could lead to better employment outcomes. In many cases the students also chose to continue their learning journey either into a Diploma qualification or on to a bachelor degree. For the University’s regional sites in particular this has a noticeable effect on the broader community with students engaged in workplace learning with local businesses. Local Chambers were involved in the study and the graduation ceremonies for a number of pathways cohorts.
- A significant feature of the innovative aspect of the program was the co-enrolment of students in their Certificate IV qualification and the university-approved Bridging and Transition Subject. The integrated nature of this bridging subject allowed for parallel skills and development — while students are acquiring generalised skills and acculturation for university within the context of the bridging subject, they are also becoming familiar with the discipline-specific discursive language of their subject matter within a vocational training context.
- The project allowed the University to refine and develop a flexible administrative framework to ensure the continuation of the program. Through the analysis of stakeholders, students and institutional measures, the University developed a three-tier engagement model allowing partners to engage with the program at a level appropriate for their needs and outcomes.
- The new framework also allowed for engagement with a broader number of vocational providers and to expand the scope of articulation.
- Future developments of the program are similarly focused in the regional and remote space.
- The program was so successful in 2015 that new partners were added for 2016 with several new types of vocational qualification being added. Opportunities for collaboration also arose at relevant industry forums.
- The project provided a successful model for supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate in higher education through the development of a pathways program that linked vocational education providers and employers with UOW.
Summary prepared by the NCSEHE.