Enhancing Employability and e-Business Capacities for Arabic-Speaking Residents of Australia through START Online Training
Background: Arabic minority groups in Australia face language barriers and shortage of computer skills, which cause unemployment and/or an inability to establish their own businesses. The unemployment rate for this group is ~ 20.5%, which is 3-times higher than the average unemployment rate in Australia (~7%). The unemployment will get worse due to COVID-19 pandemic. The current provision of computer and language training in Australia is in English, which results in longer training times and higher chances of non-completion.
Objective: The Smart Training for Arabic Residents on Technology (START) is an interventional online bi-lingual training that assists Arabic-speaking residents of Australia to establish an online business with minimum resources (money, space, and infrastructure) or at least help them find suitable employment.
Methods: START uses Design-Based Research DBR, as it has its own progressive refinement approach. Both qualitative methods (skills assessment interviews, semi-guided observation, and final follow-up interviews) and quantitative methods (practical tests, log analysis/learning analytics, feedback surveys) contribute to evaluation and improvement cycles.
Discussion: DBR has not been applied to vocational immigrant education previously. This research project contributes to a better understanding of the relationships between educational theory, designed learning and outcomes, to help advance learning and teaching environments by refining critical factors that lead to success for trainees. Practically, Arabic residents are provided opportunities to master computer and English skills for establishing their own online businesses. This research, however, has some limitations. Usually a team of teacher, learning designer, and researcher is recommended for DBR, but that is not possible in this PhD study. It is also acknowledged that although this study aims for optimal refinement of the START program, through multiple cycles of improvement, realistically it will be difficult to “recreate” the exact learning environment in future programs.
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