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VET or University – what’s the right choice for you?

by Jessica Hamilton

There is a tendency amongst Australians to head straight to university after leaving school (or whenever they want to learn new skills). This has been the trend for decades, with many believing it will provide them with better career prospects, compared to a VET (Vocational Education and Training) course. But is this really the case?

uni or vet

According to a recent report released by the Skilling Australia Foundation and McCrindle, opting for VET training rather than investing in a lengthy university degree can actually offer a whole load of benefits – some that you might never have even considered before!

So, if you’re wondering whether VET or university study is the right choice for you, see what the research has to say…

1. Good job prospects

Unless you’re studying for fun, to develop a hobby or to learn a new skill, the chances are, you’re looking to get a job in your chosen field when you finish your course, right?

The good news is that VET graduates have a higher employment rate than university undergraduates. The study found 78% of VET graduates are employed after training, compared to 69% of university undergraduates*.

“With a VET course, you’re learning the hands-on practical skills that you need to do a specific job. You learn by simply doing.” 

When you study a VET course, you’re learning the hands-on practical skills that you need to do a specific job; whereas university degrees tend to focus more on the theory aspect, giving you a large general knowledge base in your chosen field.

If you think about it, it’s hard to become a Nurse if you’ve never stepped foot in a hospital; or to be a Counsellor if you’ve never had any experience working with clients! Many VET courses offer a work placement component, where you get to go into the workplace and learn by simply doing. This can help to increase your chances of employment when you finish your course, because you will already have the skills employers are looking for.

VET education practical on-the-job skills2. The money factor

We all need money to live, and while it might not rate as high on the priority list, as say, job satisfaction, it’s still an important consideration.

As noted in the Skilling Australia Foundation report, VET graduates earn wages comparable to, if not exceeding, that of university graduates. The median full-time income for a VET graduate is $56,000, compared to the median graduate salary for students completing a Bachelor’s degree at $54,000*.

So, what does this mean? VET is a great choice and you can have just as much earning capacity (if not more, in some fields) as a university course.

paying for vet or university

3. Getting the right skills to help you succeed

In recent years, changes to the economy, industry growth and the increasing role of technology, has led many workers to retrain or re-skill every few years to remain relevant.

The good news is that VET courses already prepare you for an ever-changing workforce. As noted in the report, “VET’s high level of flexibility enables it to provide practical programs that teach real-life skills rather than just theory.” As a result, “VET graduates of the future will be able to enter the workforce with first-hand experience, rather than requiring constant retraining once employed.”

As an added bonus, VET courses generally don’t take as long to complete as university degrees. Courses range from six months to two years in duration, compared to a minimum three-years full-time study for a Bachelor’s degree. This means you can get into the workforce sooner and start earning!

“VET courses prepare you for an ever-changing workforce.”

VET-training-job-ready-skills4. Doing something you love

With a VET course, you’re learning the exact skills you need to do your dream job! Just ask Open Colleges marketing graduate Melinda, “I applied for a new job and the feedback that I got was, if it wasn’t for the Diploma of Marketing, I wouldn’t have got it.” Hear Melinda’s inspiring story here.

So, if you’re looking for a fulfilling career that combines theory with practical, real-life experience, give VET a go!

* Statistics referenced can be found in this report: Wyman, N., McCrindle, M., Whatmore, S., Gedge, J. & Edwards, T. (2017). Perceptions are not reality: myths, realities & the critical role of vocational education and training in Australia; Skilling Australia Foundation, Melbourne, Australia.

Get qualified with Open Colleges

We offer over 100 online VET courses ranging from community services to accounting, fitness to nursing. You can study online, at your own pace, with the flexibility to balance work and study around your lifestyle.

Plus, with the Open Colleges Career Commitment, if you don’t meet your desired career outcome after 6 months of graduating from your course, we will provide an additional course or module to give you the extra skills you need to succeed.

Find your course now!

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