Outworker Education Strategy

The Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) has developed and runs a successful training program for outworkers. The TCFUA has developed the very unique Outworker Delivery System and has been successfully running courses that meet the needs of outworkers and sweatshop workers.  

Even though outworkers work from home with only minimal contact with an employer, the development of English communication skills is a high priority for the outworkers who attend the TCFUA training courses. The TCFUA and outworkers are motivated by similar goals:

  • to improve language, literacy and communication for better work practices and everyday life.
  • to use communication to empower outworkers in their dealings with employers
  • to increase understanding and observance of occupational health and safety (OHS)
  • to increase understanding of outworkers legal rights and obligations.

Challenges and Solutions

The nature of outwork with many individual, home based workers, working under high pressure with major jobs to complete and not enough hours in a day, has posed significant challenges for the TCFUA in organisation and developing a WELL training program.

The delivery model had to ensure accessibility. The training is organised geographically in order to maximise the ability of outworkers to attend.

The courses are based on 3 units of competency that has been specifically designed for a home-based working environment from the Textile, Clothing and Footwear training Package; Organise and Plan your Own Work, Follow Defined OH&S Policies and Procedures and Apply Quality Standards. It is an integrated approach that weaves language, literacy and numeracy throughout the competencies, ensuring that the participants learn communication skills in the context of their jobs and are able to fulfil the requirements of the competency standards.

The training is group based learning and the method is interactive, offering an opportunity for the outworkers to meet and share experiences, something that the participants value. The individual nature of outwork places increased importance on group learning that allows participants to practice as they learn.

Training plans/pathways

The training enables outworked to gain Statements of Attainment towards Certificate III in Clothing Production.

The TCFUA negotiates and develops a training plan for each worker participating in the programme. Through a process of Recognition of Prior earning (RPL), each worker can be assessed against the remaining units of competency to be awarded that Certificate III of Clothing Production if deemed competent.

The integrated model of training adopted by the TCFUA in terms of content, location, timing, access and equity is a successful model that is meeting the needs of outworkers.