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ERIC Number: ED561226
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 40
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 24
ISBN: 978-1-925173-28-4
From Volunteering to Paid Employment: Skills Transfer in the South Australian Country Fire Service. Occasional Paper
Keough, Mark
National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)
A common complaint from business and industry is that employees entering the workforce are not "job ready." They often lack the practical skills, maturity, and workplace experience to perform well in their roles, leaving employers to fill the gap by providing training either at their own expense or with public funding. In contrast, a new employee with previous experience as a volunteer in an emergency services organisation comes into the workplace with an understanding of teamwork, a demonstrated sense of community and responsibility, and an appreciation of the role of organisational culture, thus accelerating their emergence as an asset to their employer. This case study of the South Australia Country Fire Service (SA CFS) examined key factors in the resourcing and efficacy of training for volunteers. It was undertaken as a joint initiative of Government Skills Australia (GSA), the SA CFS and the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER). The SA CFS delivers nationally endorsed and non-endorsed training to their volunteers, all funded from the annual operational budget it receives from the South Australian Government. It maintains a training centre at Brukunga in the Adelaide Hills and several regional training resources across the state. The SA CFS is a registered training organisation. The research sought views through qualitative and quantitative sources, interviewing brigades, employers and key industry stakeholders--242 volunteers responded to the quantitative survey. The core hypothesis for this research was that SA CFS volunteers who trained under the Australian Qualifications Framework's (AQF) Public Safety Training Package are taking skills and knowledge gained in roles as firefighters, trainers and incident managers into their paid employment. Formal transferrable skills revealed in the case study included safety and first aid, truck driving, equipment use (e.g. using a chainsaw), training and assessment. Such skills have valuable alignment with jobs in Agriculture; Food and Forestry; Mining; Public Administration and Safety; and Health Care and Social Assistance industry areas. Other generic skills acquired informally are in management, leadership, communication and logistics. The SA CFS training model is not funded to recognise these latter skills. The data gathered also show that the SA CFS provides pathways for young people through its programs for cadets; the inclusion of SA CFS volunteering in the South Australian Certificate of Education for Years 11 and 12; and the provision of nationally accredited units in operational training. This is important given the need to recruit and retain new, younger volunteers in the emergency service sector. The findings indicate that volunteers are more strongly aware of the benefits of SA CFS training to the workplace than their employers. Their skills acquisition and transfer have multifaceted, multi-directional benefits: volunteers who are drawn from a broad range of industries bring professional skills to the brigade and transfer knowledge among the volunteer cohort; they also take skills imparted during their volunteer experience back to the workplace and to their communities. Greater recognition of this process is warranted, especially in order to elucidate the overall gains for both employers and the community from the activities of the SA CFS as a learning organisation. Appended are: (1) Survey Questions; and (2) Employer Telephone Interview Survey Script.
National Centre for Vocational Education Research Ltd. P.O. Box 8288, Stational Arcade, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia. Tel: +61-8-230-8400; Fax: +61-8-212-3436; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Centre for Vocational Education Research; Government Skills Australia; Government of South Australia; South Australia Country Fire Service (CFS)
Identifiers - Location: Australia