(Article updated in January 2020)
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?
Latest news on this topic is that those in Vocational Education Training (VET) is 2.5 times more likely than those with masters or phD to have a permanent job.
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 and is the key to future proofing our economy.
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 that VET graduates find work faster and earn more in their first year as compared to their university counterparts*.
“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.
2. 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 increasing according to recent government surveys.
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.
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.”
4. 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.
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