What’s the similarities? A three-to four year ‘contract of training’; A combination of ‘theory’ and ‘practice’; Difficulty in attracting suitable applicants; Often a single supervisor; Low rate of pay (for apprentices and full- time PhD students) ( Stipend $23,000 p.a., comparable to second year cooking apprentices ); National concern about attrition and retention, and about quality.
Research method Pre-existing interviews from the Psychological Contract project (Smith, Walker & Brennan Kemmis, 2011) and the Apprentice Demand project (Smith & Bush, 2010); Phone or face-to-face interviews with six Deans/Directors of Graduate Studies using similar interview protocol; Analysed two interviews from each for this paper.
Nature of organisations DDOGS- Capital Uni (‘Group of Eight’) (2500 students) and Regional uni (600 students); Apprentice managers- Power Co electricity distribution (240 apprentices) and Electro GTO (250 apprentices) (group training organisation); All were multi-site except Capital Uni Capital Uni was highly devolved; Electro GTO had the added complication of host employers; Capital Uni and Cable Co seen as ‘elite’ with high completion rates.
Structures The unis and the companies had both central and Faculty/department arrangements The companies had ‘field officers’ All organisations had ‘workplace supervisors’
Recruitment and selection Importance of good selection; Processes much more rigorous in companies; unis often selected on paperwork; Unis constrained by national guidelines; Unis more relaxed about applicant quality and willing to ‘rescue’; Universities found it difficult to attract enough high quality applicants; the companies had many applicants but quality not always good
Recruiting for the profession Capital Uni considered it was supplying a substantial part of the research workforce of Australia Cable Co supplied the electricity distribution industry of Queensland; Electro GTO by its nature supplied the industry Cable Co and Capital uni paid over the ‘award rate’
Performance management Formal progress reports in both unis and in Cable Co. In all cases issues arose re open and honest reporting I don’t think we’re particularly good at that because often students will get to the end of their PhD and it’s always been known there is a problem (but it hasn’t been written down) (Capital Uni) Training provided for supervisors Every truck has a document that shows the requirements of supervision (Cable Co)
Pastoral care This was considered important in all cases The companies had field officers The unis differed: Capital Uni expected that supervisors would take some role; Regional Uni considered students should access normal support services available to all uni students
Expectations Similar among the types of organisations eg responsibility of organisation to provide support Emphasis on quality differed: companies emphasised their own responsibility to ‘produce good quality tradesmen’ (sic) while unis emphasised ‘excellent research’ as the responsibility of the student All organisations emphasised expectation of student to follow correct prodcuedres (safety, punctuality, ethcis)
Quality systems: example from each Cable Co: Roster system to ensure broad experience Electro GTO: Service agreements between the GTO and the host employers Capital Uni: Coursework for all PhD students (optional but 85% take-up). Exit point available after this. Regional Uni: More rigorous approach to selection, with alternative entry paths for those rejected.
Similarities Major problem for quality and for proper care is distributed responsibility The obligation (is) for everyone, from the supervisor and local staff right up to the Vice-Chancellor … it’s very hard to get into what’s happening with the supervisor and we’re trying to improve that at the moment (Capital Uni)
Transferable tips Exit point as at Capital Uni (=Certificate II?) More rigorous selection needed at unis as per apprentices Over-award payment for mature students Need for an overseeing person – DDOG or apprentice master (Regional Uni has recently abolished the position) Limitations: Project is small-scale and conclusions can only be tentative; electrical industry is considered high status compared with others; the interviews from the three projects don’t quite align; there are differences between the two groups. Further analysis may reveal more ‘tips’: need for more research, too.