Construction Pathways: Attracting the Missing Students and Workers to University

Patricia McLaughlin
Anthony Mills


The Commonwealth Government has the increased participation of under-represented groups to a 20% diversity target for Australian universities. It also has minimum targets of 40% of all Australians (25-34 years) holding a Bachelor’s degree by 2020. These targets are baseline items in a government agenda of improving educational outcomes for Australians and pivotal in addressing skill shortages in industries such as construction. In construction there is a skewing of skill shortages to the higher order or post entry level skills. Demand for higher skilled occupations such as construction managers, outstrips demand for construction trades (DEEWR, 2010). But whilst 41% of the industry have VET qualifications, only 10% possess HE qualifications in construction. Movement between the VET and HE sectors is low: of all construction students qualifying at AQF 4, less than 10% continue on to higher education and less than 1% of VET qualified persons in the construction workforce seek re-entry to university. This paper examines national data in construction education pathways and evaluates, using the DEMO matrix, the enablers in pathways to HE qualifications. The evaluation is based upon survey responses of two cohorts entering higher education from non-traditional pathways- articulating VET students and mature-aged workers. The results indicate that pathway programmes into construction degrees can attract non-traditional cohorts, but elements such as learner engagement, confidence, people-rich resources and collaboration are critical features of successful pathways.

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