Thirty years ago, a typical worker expected to find a job and stay in that company until retirement. Training happened on the job and was entirely at the discretion of the employer. Few economically disadvantaged workers were able to independently afford further training or higher education.
Between 1995 and 2008 a number of laws revolutionised the workplace and the education system, creating new learning institutions, new qualifications and career pathways, new forms of funding and new ways of learning.
Today, no matter their position in society, level of prior learning or economic circumstances, there is an entry point for everyone into the education system for further training and higher education.
Part-time study has been a particular boon to employed individuals needing to keep up with technological and industrial change, while still earning an income and supporting themselves and their families.
Part-time students enjoy the same standard of education as full-time students and the same facilities and lecturers, but with the added flexibility afforded by after-hours classes.
Part-time students tend to be more mature and experienced, and benefit academically from sharing experiences of different workplaces and industries.
As part-time students are usually self-funded, they often have to take breaks from study before continuing. Modular course design and the National Qualifications Framework system allow students to leave after studying a few subjects, be accredited for them and come back to complete the qualification when they can afford to. A part-time student can also retain the accumulated credits and switch to full-time study if desired.
Part-time study provides adult learners with multiple options to independently undertake ‘on-the-job’ training and improve their career prospects.