Vocational education and training has featured heavily in the media over the last 12 months. From significant cuts to TAFE sector funding to RTO quality and performance issues and the reduction in overseas student applications the sector is suffering.
With governments cutting funding for vocational training, the onus is on providers to find cost efficiencies, understand and calculate demand, be more effective in marketing courses and improve visibility of training options online. In an environment of change and uncertainty, there is greater need to provide cost effective online communications channels to manage perceptions and reputation.
We have always had a connection with this sector via our work in the aged care sector, with its training standards agency and also providers who are increasingly expanding as training destinations. We have more recently worked with providers targeting much younger demographics, from school children to Industry Training and Assessment boards managing the skills requirements of diverse industries.
The vocational education sector is complex in structure and nature and often seen as more traditional than its tertiary counterpart. For those without a familiarity with the sector, their language can seem bureaucratic and confusing. This is a crucial time for the sector to articulate its importance and think of new ways to attract and support its customers.
While social media has become a priority channel for organisations in the education and training sector worldwide, particularly Universities, there is little evidence of similar activity or strategic social media use by vocational training organisations in Australia. Programs such as Australian Apprenticeships Advisers Program, lend itself so well to online pastoral care and peer support – an approach executed effectively within the Victorian Police, who provide support and guidance to cadets undertaking both application process and exams.
Social media can assist this sector in:
- Increase awareness of its service offering to both current and potential stakeholders;
- Encourage online peer referral and advocacy by its students
- Increase cost efficiency and efficacy of stakeholder communications
The diagram below outlines the opportunity in greater detail.
Image credit: McDougall Interactive, Flickr Creative Commons