Marking it Work. A study of education and training issues for women in micro and small business report focuses on a small-scale national project that researched the needs of women in small and micro businesses in Australia, with emphasis on the implications of the provision and relevance of vocational education and training.
The research investigated the perspectives of women in small and micro business with respect to their:
- career aspirations,
- education and training needs,
- value and relevance of education and training to their future direction,
and sought to consider:
- how women in small business talk about their careers?
- how women in small and micro business see education and training contributing to their plans?
- what their experiences are in this regard?
- what policy directions and programs would most increase participation in education and training by women in small and micro business?
The research found:
- women in home based businesses, micro and small businesses are active lifelong learners
- participation by women in business networks is low, although mentoring and networking are sought out,
- women are mainly happy with their chosen career paths, yet had very little information at start-up,
- women in small business see value in training and education and aspire to undertake further education and training,
- those who had experienced training had found it beneficial,
- some consider practical experience more relevant than formal training and put a greater emphasis on networks and support,
- formalised training is not always the preferred option,
- participation in VET was hindered by:
- lack of course flexibility
- time available
- course relevance and content
- childcare availability and cost
- family responsibilities
- relevant and appropriate VET was less available in regional areas,
- there is a concerning lack of information for women establishing their own small business,
- a continuing lack of recognition of the skills and experience gained through running a small business.
Recommendations for the improvement of education and training for women in small and micro business include:
- improving availability and reducing costs of childcare so enhance the opportunities for women in micro and small business to undertake training,
- tailoring specific government initiatives for small and micro businesses to women, as well as ensuring ‘mainstream’ initiatives for micro and small business are gender sensitive and so inclusive, in regional and rural areas as well as urban sites,
- encouraging networks for women in small business and greater inclusion in existing, often male nominated, networks and associations,
- improving access to and relevance of VET courses for this client group,
- changing the VET structure rather than trying to fit women into the existing inappropriate one,
- delivering VET in formats suitable to small and micro business operators,
- recognising skills and experience in running a small and micro business in RPL assessments,
- further research into the needs of women in small and micro business.
- initiating cross agency and cross sectoral collaboration, for delivery of innovative flexible
- frameworks, models and strategies for VET provision for small business, including women in micro, home based and small businesses.
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