Vocational Education and Training: Myths, realities and the future of skills in Australia

Monday, May 22, 2017

Over the past few months it has been our delight to have worked with Skilling Australia Foundation to research, write and design a ground-breaking report on vocational education in Australia.

This report, released today, gives an overview of the trends currently impacting the Australian workforce and outlines responses that will help futureproof the local economy amidst these global megatrends.

The transition of the workforce from the currently dominant Baby Boomers and Generation X to Generations Y and Z will require different and more diverse solutions to previous intergenerational transfers. As this report points out, the need to be innovative, collaborative and responsive require more emphasis on vocational education and training (VET) in addition to our well regarded higher education sector. In a multi- career era, it is upskilling and retraining that will create a nimble and relevant workforce. In this technologically transformative society, today’s new workers will have to be lifelong learners, with hands-on skills not just academic qualifications, and a focus on productivity not just theory. In these economically fluctuating times, tertiary education will increasingly be required to deliver a return on investment, direct employment outcomes and strong career earning. In all of these areas it is the VET sector that offers compelling solutions to these emerging needs.

This report clearly shows the key role of the VET sector in these transformed times. It also highlights the need to prioritise, promote and position the sector to respond competently to the current needs and opportunities of the Australian economy.

The VET sector is more than just a partner in equipping the emerging workforce, it is the first foundational rung in Australia’s future economic prosperity.

For more information or to access the report, visit Skilling Australia Foundation here.


External Trends Impacting the NFP Sector in 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The year 2017 has begun in an environment of perplexed global sentiment. From Brexit to the election of President Trump, the last 9 months have been far from a smooth ride on the world stage, showing a trend towards growing isolationism and increasing uncertainty.

At the national level, for most advanced economies, this uncertainty has bred an increase in nationalism, and a move away from globalisation. In Australia, our response – in part fuelled by our strong work ethic and historic undercurrent – makes us all just want to ‘get on with it’ and get the job done.

For the not for profit sector, this means working hard at strategic initiatives, managing external risk, and taking bold initiatives to engage donors. Our conversations with the NFP sector at this time of year often involves developing strategic brand tracking to measure public engagement, or testing specific brand assets to develop powerful advertising campaigns.

Yet, before delving into the tools of marketing and communications, it is critical that NFPs grasp the trends and undercurrents taking place in the external environment, particularly those that impact donor giving. Here are three trends we feel are critical for the NFP sector to grapple with in 2017:

1. Charity saturation and the need for brand differentiation

According to JBWere’s Cause Report (2016), Australia has 56,894 NFP organisation, one NFP for every 422 individuals. The number of not for profit organisations has doubled every 20 years over the last 60 years – and despite cancelling and closure of some charities by the ACNC, there are still around 10 new charities established every business day.

2. Overall decline in public giving necessitating new fundraising initiatives

Charitable giving has been lower in Australia in 2016 than in years prior. The NAB Charitable Giving Index indicates that national giving is down, by a decrease of 0.3% growth in the 12 months leading up to Aug 2016. This compares to 5.1% growth a year earlier. While there has been resilience in the Australian economy during this time, consumers are more cautious than before, reflected by these figures.

3. Younger generations giving less and seeking experiential engagement

60% of Australian donors agree that charities will face a more difficult future as younger generations don’t seem to volunteer in an ongoing way or give as much as the generations before them (McCrindle Australian Communities Trends Report, 2016). NAB data shows that those aged 15 to 24 give just $135 on average, annually, to charities, compared to those over 65 who give $452 on average.


A number of these trends are explained by a rise in the cost of living across Australia. Take Sydney housing as a case example of the growing cost of living pressures. In 1975, Sydney house prices were just 5x average annual earnings. By 1995 they had risen to 6x average annual earnings, but today – when taking the average annual salary of $80,000 per year and the median house price of well over $1 million – the average house price is 13x the cost of an average annual full-time salary.

Australian donors are finding it more difficult to give, and to give regularly. As the traditional, dependable, regular donor shrinks as a proportion of all donors, new types of donors are emerging –brand responders and opportunity givers.


Brand responders and opportunity givers donate sporadically, in an ad-hoc way. These types of donors are still more likely to give to a single charity or cause than to multiple causes, and have a strong preference for a particularly cause or charity.

Through speaking with more than a dozen NFP experts, 54 donors face to face, and surveying 1,500 Australians, we have identified four key next steps for the charitable sector to take into account in 2017:

1. Develop Multi-Tiered Levels of Engagement

Donors want to be involved with charities, but on their own terms. Rather than fixed contracts, they desire flexible giving and varied involvement. The demand for personalisation is growing as donors expect charity engagement suited to their age and life stage.

2. Build Communities for Social Impact

Australian donors desire to be part of a community of activists that bring about social change. They want to be involved in something bigger than themselves, knowing that together they can make a difference. This is not just ‘clicktivism’, which is seen merely as a form of virtue signalling through web-based activist organisations. Globally, networks like Avaaz.org and Change.org have created opportunities for real-life engagement of social issues, facilitated first through online platforms.

3. Communicate Results in Real-Time

Donors want real-time results and transparent reporting of admin costs. Platforms such as GiveDirectly.org now enable donors to give directly to an individual living in extreme poverty via mobile giving. KIVA, a lending platform facilitating crowd-sourced micro loans across the globe, displays the giving of loans in real-time via an interactive world map. When donors have this type of visibility, trust and engagement follow.

4. Create Fun and Engaging Experiences

The donor of the future is looking for participation and memories created through experiences. Nearly half (46%) of 18-29 year-old Australian donors have volunteered for a charity (compared to 31% of 30+ donors), and they are looking to do so in new, fresh ways. This is not just contained to events and a physical presence at sporting events or music festivals. Many young donors (1 in 4 of those aged 18-29, compared to just 11% of 30+ year-old donors) prefer the creative challenge of conducting their own fundraising events, providing them with the opportunity to harness their unique gifts and talents for a great cause.

-Eliane Miles


For more information on Australian Donors, see the Australian Communities Trends Report Infographic.

Connect with us if you would like more information on environmental scanning for strategic forecasting.


Eliane Miles is a social researcher, trends analyst and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a data analyst she understands the power of big data to inform strategic direction. Managing research across multiple sectors and locations, she is well positioned to understand the mega trends transforming the workplace, household and consumer landscapes. Her expertise is in telling the story embedded in the data and communicating the insights in visual and practical ways. Download Eliane's professional speaking pack here.

To inquire about Eliane presenting at your next event, please feel free to get in touch.

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


mortgage eliane miles SMSF sector Wellington jobs of the future "know the times" states engage global generations government education future report Northern beaches Event social research socialising newspaper public speaker professional services Australian schools Channel Seven speakers buildings townhouses trend HSC recap school satisfaction networking education research generation Z REIV Conference population milestone research services Word Up Tasmania baby name perth NT 1980 Queensland: QLD investing future of shopping lifestyle wealth distribution micro apartments Australian Dream typical australian cash teachers social change data analyst new york times australian social research faux-ciliser trend tuesday home ownership media release housing twentyseventeen business index crime students waverton mccrindle research New Zealand city motivate Australian communities Netflix community event growing population 23 million Australian Families future proof selfie social shifts statistics events Love language sydney speaker parents Financial Planning Association future of education sports social issues house prices James Ward Generation Y slideshare leader salary learning suburb logan Geoff Brailey education contiki sunburnt country demographic tuesday Australian demographics cultural diversity renter of the future news resilience work property price wealth and income internship faux-cilise trends of 2017 families learning styles parenting huffington post Tuesday Trend Kirsten Brewer video innovative grave decision demographer menai ease of travel Territory culturally diverse community baby boom ageing population collaborative list woolworths relevant population map employment society trends TDE geomapping affordability storytelling alpha mccrindle tea NBRS Architecture insights Real Estate Institute of Victoria greatness teleworking local community Scouts customer mining boom schools VIC careers plans Bathburst The Daily Edition Deaths Sydney Hills Business Chamber responsive Royals sydneycity 2012 DIY leadership environmental scanning earn Charlotte group high school presentations Crime Rates Melbourne ashley fell gender prince george not for profit Northern Beaches clothing sentiments conference speaker ACT balance conference pharmacy urban future gen alpha going out Sydney baby name trends meals Christchurch tattoos Population Clock divorce rate Res Vis FPA tv social enquiry trends of 2016 rising house prices christianity seasons marketing names internet energy study professional student story relational visual pharmacies residents intern mccrindle in the media wealth tertiary education conference presentation earnings winter long weekend career generation alpha home New South Wales ethnography 2015 baby name predictions happiness Macquarie University house price rise Australian Bureau of Statistics education future breakfast aged care January 26th year 12 Adelaide lalor park Australian Population bureau australian communities trends report capital city middle class food collaboration national private wealth royal baby EFF entrepreneurial potts point market research capital cities 2013 cooking organisational culture rich sydney metro office space fears eliane learn leadership workshop teacher brisbane hello fresh employers research pack google for education cold program the hills Queensland men New Zeland youth snapshot emerging technologies royal cars Hornsby Shire Council communicate online housing trends Australian Home experience financial world youth day financial future politics professional speaker the hills shire nfp average Australian forum SRE Caregiver population growth local communities product skills national crime rates forecasting purpose households participants daily commute Do It Yourself growth focus groups innovation mythbusting celebration housing affordability define Real Estate Channel 7 manly marrickville Northern Beaches Christian School affordable NSW Tuesday Trends public holiday futurist brand experience coffee financial fears brands social lives housing market marriages university degree unemployment shbc change etiquette WA trades Education Future Forum Australians research report victoria jobs cost of living qualitative research google social commentary school students Wodonga Gen X online shopping monarchy Research Executive Wagga Wagga demography changing face of sydney sunny days friends property market housing growth census fail finance shopping emerging trends blaxland tips workforce personalities baby names report media internships CBD The ABC of XYZ thrive educated Social Trend census results Merry Christmas summer quote baby boomers cartodb Engineering Manager aged care puzzle future proofing high density living toys omnibus ultimo renting debt group session paying to work research global financial crisis dream Mark McCrindle shifts entrepreneur infographic wall not-for-profit society ACF 2016 communication workshop megatrends PSI wolloomooloo annual income Northern Territory university Financial Planning Week financial dreams 24,000,000 the changing face of deloitte millionth 2014 ABS wedding millenials census 2016 princess charlotte community engagement women SA life Kiwi rain royal influence Births Work place professional development rent TAS McCrindle Speakers repayments work-life focus group education sector NEETs office opening Assistant Store Manager social trends in depth interviews poker master technology analysis travelling workplace report norwest new office narcissism Financial Planning Association of Australia australians staying home more 1994 engagement optus February 16 Australian Census know the times kate middleton real neutral bay schools students moderators guide optimistic australian communities forum youth unemployment Christmas lunch business ipswich goals consumerism researcher mateship weather Andrew Duffin shopper's pick anzac workplace culture demographic transformations royal family sydneysider digital transport wage South Australia stats sydneysiders event socialites office NBRS future of work panel commute entrepreneurs of today conferences medicine demographics high density holidays water gen z stay home staff case study australia sydney hills financial independence safe belief Vocational education infographic dreaming area 2016 hopes social commentator Aussies 2016 census survey design social impact retirement national wealth litter priorities darwin winter blues IT Specialists travel Australia Day 2017 survey ideas outsourcing daily telegraph ageing culture learner forecast charity child care social researcher earning 2016 census results mentor training visualisation data visualisation World Water Day proactive research visualisation organisations aussie culture investor the average aussie resource keynote speaker healthy future car wealth and income distribution global research data couple Australian Communities Trends year 7 FOMO social life supply and demand gold coast moreton bay challenge small business Canberra Australian Trends young australians spirituality rise of local emerging generations Aussie baby facts mythbusters brand sustainable results land of the middle class trends analyst authenticity #censusfail holiday Hills Shire Council young people cost population graphs domestic generation data high density apartments property business performance publication generations insight sydney event mover and shaker grandparents staying in equip Generation X hobart volunteers work mates easter shopping centre generational trends the australian dream interactive identity faith tableau demographic trends VET budget household vegetarian mother's day DESTEL 2017 suburban living social analysis commuters cancelling plans christmas weekly earnings vegemite teach Western Australia mccrindle dare to dream builders father's day baby names australia report social communications train income house VET sector criminal economic urban taskforce sector wide study spend ashley mckenzie presentation divorce owning a home 2020 investment apartment cancelling event average sydneysider home owner sun apartments fresh rule keeper census personal growth educhat Sydney keynote speaker Australia Day 10 years media commentary faux-cilising debate poor post rationalism family easy rider 1975 English sector wide dessert wages Duchess of Cambridge social researchers cloudy days Christmas season marriage goal village micro future-proof public speaking keynote school low density cica suburbs media activity friendship Gen Y bondi 1968 click millennials cancel plans tea teaching world CPI christian urban living index baby names consumer entertainment SMART average aussie acf15 overcast children increasing densification communities optus my business awards church rental stress non profit offenders Valentine’s Day social media System's Architect crows nest pyrmont unaffordable economy trends GPO living meetings ferry JOMO wellbeing REIV National Conference ACF bus impact hills shire mobile urban living Skilling local award winner 40 million religion environment thought leadership follow 24 million state Christmas presents award Myth house price hornsby in the media curiosity