How can a vocational education provider meet industry needs and provide a pathway that will attract fee-paying students?  By developing an offer that understands employer needs, market trends and what motivates students to commit to professional development.

For a potential new vocational course to have a successful launch and to have long term viability, our client knew they needed to win over both employers and potential students.  Winning over both groups over the long term also meant understanding trends in the local industry and its capacity for ongoing employment and capability development.

The initial stage of the project involved developing a complete understanding of where the course fitted within other similar types of courses to ensure we were able to gain actionable insights and understand how the market understood their needs in relation to course offerings.  The review phase was followed by looking at what other providers were offering, how they positioned their offering, and what evidence there was of successful uptake. This stage of the project also included speaking with key college staff that direct experience employers and students. These staff interviews provided another source of insight into what drove training needs and provider selection.

Information from the initial phase of the research provided a framework for which businesses and associations to engage with and who were the best people within those organisations to interview.   Interviews with industry focussed on understanding current and future training needs and what had driven changes in the past, and what was likely to drive needs in the future.  These interviews also provided insight into competitors and perceptions of the client as a training provider.  Because potential students were harder to access, the research focussed on current and past students.  Where potential students could be accessed, they were interviewed.  To understand demand across all areas our client operated, we then used publicly available demographic and business profile data to estimate the total training opportunity.

Combining the sources of market size, insights from the interviews, and industry trends, with our client we developed course offers and a communication strategy that engaged employers, their staff and our client’s team – stakeholders and educators – to successfully launch the courses and grew our clients business.