Major national research projects for ACCI on best practice in managing apprentices

See our major research projects on best practice in developing apprentices, which we undertook for the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 2008-2012.

Project No.1 on retention of apprentices

In 2008 the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) undertook an investigation into the retention of Australian Apprenticeship from an employer perspective.

The study was undertaken by John Mitchell & Associates and the report was released in July 2009 and is entitled A Systematic Approach to Retaining Apprentices.

Project brief

The project had three prescribed stages:

  • Stage 1: desktop review of recent relevant literature. As well as summarising the key findings of the available literature, the report identified gaps in the current knowledge base.
  • Stage 2: develop a survey instrument for employers. The survey instrument focussed on the employers' experience in attracting, training and retaining apprentices and the working conditions under which the apprentice was employed.
  • Stage 3: report on the findings with recommendations. The key recommendations to be made broadly available to all employers, registered training organisations (RTOs) and group training organisations (GTOs) to assist them in developing and maintaining effective retention strategies for Australian Apprentices.

A fuller description of the brief is provided in Appendix 2.

Project methodology

The project used a pragmatic, mixed-methods approach involving the collection and analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data.

Key finding: a systematic approach to retention

The research in this project showed that it is possible and important for employers to take a systematic approach to retaining apprentices. A systematic approach is defined - in this instance - as one that is evidence-based, logical, rigorous, thorough, targeted, engaging, interventionist, customised, benchmarked and continuously improved.

The identification of the importance of a systematic approach is in contrast to most approaches advocated in the literature, which generally recommend that employers give equal attention to all the factors that might affect the retention of apprentices, without attempting to prioritise those factors or indicate how they are inter-connected.