RTOs want new enrolments. Here's how they plan to get them.
New enrolments have seemed hard to come by for RTOs over the last two years.
With Covid-19 testing the appetite of students for undertaking learning and work pathways - as well as the ability of RTOs to deliver them in remote or blended formats - the ability for some VET providers to generate new sign-ups has been under threat.
New enrolments was named by RTOs as their biggest challenge in ReadyTech's Voice of VET RTO Industry Report 2022, alongside rising costs and lack of funding. It was enough to displace the challenge of compliance, which has been the leader every year since 2018.
Look closely at Voice of VET, and the numbers tell the story. With the average number of students enrolled steady at about 860 in 2019 and 2020, the impact of Covid-19 dampened demand, pushing average student numbers down to 810 in the calendar year 2021.
RTOs have been asking a question. How can they drive a new wave of enrolments?
Course correction? The new wave of enrolment growth
There are interesting changes happening behind the scenes at RTOs.
In a market traditionally conservative about change, providers are clearly ready to shift the types of courses they create and deliver, as they look to encourage new business and enrolments in a post-Covid market.
Here are four areas worth noting from the ReadyTech Voice of VET RTO Industry Report 2022.
1. Short courses
RTOs are delivering more shorter forms of learning. Driven by demand, as well as new opportunity, RTOs are augmenting product catalogues to include these course types.
Voice of VET found over half (55%) of RTOs report increased demand for accredited short courses and skillsets in 2021, as well as non-accredited micro-credentials courses (54%).
Accredited short courses and skillsets were delivered by 8% more RTOs in 2021 (63% of the market), while non-accredited short courses expanded by 12% (to 51% of the market).
While still the subject of strong debate in the sector, non-accredited micro-credentials were offered by 14% of the RTO market in 2021, up from 9% a year earlier.
2. Alternative courses
There has been a significant increase in RTOs delivering non-accredited courses. In fact, non-accredited course offerings were offered by 55% of the RTO market in 2021, a 15% expansion of the footprint they had among RTOs in the calendar year 2020.
Growth in non-accredited courses was evident across multiple course types. For example, non-accredited long courses were offered by 13% of providers in 2021, up from 6% in 2020.
As noted above, non-accredited short courses were offered by 51% of the market, up from 39% in 2020, and non-accredited micro credentials are now offered by 14% of the market.
3. Online learning
Online or blended training was named as the greatest business or management opportunity of RTOs for 2022 - even ahead of new student enrolments and new market or sector growth.
Fresh from delivering online learning out of necessity, RTOs have shifted to viewing this as a source of new business opportunity, with the potential to boost new enrolments in future.
The Voice of VET RTO Industry Report 2022 found that 78% of RTOs now offer online training, a significant increase on the 44% of RTOs that had this capacity back in 2018.
4. Workplace learning
Workplace training grew in 2021, increasing to include 8% more RTOs. This is in line with RTOs seeking out new opportunities to partner with employers to deliver training to workforces.
This trend happened alongside a reported increase in demand for apprenticeships and traineeships, among the highest in demand forms of training in the market in 2021.
Workplace learning will be one to watch. For now, 78% of VET providers say their RTO engages with industry to tailor their offerings and 44% match graduates with potential employers.
A brand new day for new RTO enrolments?
RTOs are optimistic about new enrolments in 2022. Despite leaner times in 2021 due to the pandemic, Voice of VET shows that RTOs expect new enrolments to return post-Covid.
For example, 60% of RTOs expect overall demand for courses to improve once pandemic restrictions lift and 66% expect enrolments to be the top driver of their RTO's progress.
The pressure they feel in attracting new enrolments has also decreased. While in 2020 79% said the pressure was 'extreme' or 'quite a lot', this had dropped to just 36% in 2021.
With the above changes to courses happening, there's very good reasons to be positive.
To download the Voice of VET RTO Industry Report 2022 click here.