Have you heard of National Skills Week? In a nutshell, it’s a week dedicated to highlighting trades and skills, industry trends and growth, and the link between hands-on training and jobs. This government initiative comprises of activities and events to inform everyday Australians about trades, skills and vocational education that could make a big difference to their career prospects.
This year, National Skills Week takes place from 27 August to 2 September 2018, so don’t miss out. With “real skills for real careers” as its catchphrase, it shines the light on Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, emphasising the opportunities that a VET qualification provides and giving vocational education the status it deserves.
As the name suggests, VET is a qualification designed to train people in job-related skills so that they can join or re-join the workforce. These courses have a practical hands-on approach so that you are equipped with the practical skills needed to go out into the workforce and find a fulfilling job.
How Can You Benefit from National Skills Week?
Have you been thinking about switching careers? Do you need to upskill your current skillset to get that all-important promotion? Do you want to find out more about emerging trends and new trades but are unsure who to ask? Then National Skills Week is perfect for you. It will give you an opportunity to find out about the career pathways that are open to you once you do a VET qualification.
Check out the calendar of events starting in August and stretching right till November which are held at various TAFE campuses and training centres all across Australia. These seminars, talks and Open Days will showcase various courses offered, as well as give you a chance to find out about new growth drivers in industries where the need for professionally-trained staff is rising. You can also speak to past VET Alumni and gain invaluable first-hand information about their professions.
What is the Impetus Behind National Skills Week?
The reason behind National Skills Week is to inspire people to discover and use their talent through quality vocational education and convince others of its real value to not just the individual but also society at large. It provides a platform to promote the status of trades and skills to the general public and aims to shatter the myth that VET courses are “inferior” to a university education.
As the Hon. Karen Andrews MP, Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills states, “Australia, unfortunately, has developed a culture where families and schools often look to encourage students down the university path as a first choice, overlooking the fact that VET can lead to an equally successful and satisfying career… National Skills Week gives us all a platform to promote the positive stories of the VET sector and to share the value of a VET pathway, not just for an individual but for a whole community.”
This fact was reinforced in a recent article which revealed that tradespeople with a VET qualification are raking in the big bucks as the demand for them grows each year. But VET courses are not just for tradies like plumbers, carpenters, electricians and gardeners. Providers like Upskilled offer courses in events & tourism, information technology, community service, accounting & finance, retail, education, project management and much, much more. There really is something for everyone, no matter your age, your interests or your education/skill level. New courses are often added to cater to a need in emerging sectors and in fields that are poised for future growth.
VET Courses: Who, Where, How?
So, who can do a VET course? The short answer: anybody and everybody! These courses are not restricted to school leavers who don’t want to pursue a university degree or TAFE course. VET courses are well-suited for those wanting to make a career change, starting a new career, fill a skills gap or gain a promotion.
You can do a VET course at any Registered Training Organisation (RTO) like at a TAFE (Technical and Further Education) or at a private institution like Upskilled. RTOs are required to provide training that gives its students a nationally recognised qualification and deliver courses to suit industrial requirements.
Depending on what course you choose, you can earn a qualification from a simple Certificate I to IV which teaches you basic skills of the trade or choose the more advanced Diploma or Advanced Diploma. Vocational Graduate Certificates/Diplomas are the top of the tier.
What are the Benefits of Doing a VET Course?
- VET courses provide occupational training that equip students with practical hands-on skills that make the transition to work so much easier. Courses are outcome-based and focus on your competency and experience. It will train you to design, plan and execute the practical and technical aspects of your field within an industry context.
- VET courses have less demanding entry requirements – usually Year 10 or 12 is sufficient. Courses are flexible and can be tailored to your needs so that you can study in a way that works for you and your work/life demands. They also take less time to complete than a Bachelor’s degree (three years).
- VET courses are a more cost-effective route to completing a qualification. Courses are generally cheaper than a university qualification and some apprenticeships attract government funding.
- VET courses can be a pathway to higher education since you can gain credits awarded through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) schemes.
- VET courses train the workforce for the future, responding to emerging socio-economic needs and equipping students with the skills needed to meet the demands of a growing economy.
- VET courses give you more bang for your buck. The median full-time income for a VET graduate is $56,000 and that of a university graduate is $54,000. In some industries with a huge skills shortage, people with a VET qualification are in big demand. In these cases, starting salaries can be as high as $140,000 per annum.
What is the Difference Between VET Courses and Higher Education Courses?
Simply put, it’s theory vs. practice. While VET courses focus more on practical and work-related skills, university education provides theory-based knowledge.
If you do a VET course that offers a Diploma or Advanced Diploma level, it can be a stepping stone to your bachelor degree as it provides credits towards a related degree.
Most VET courses are updated on a regular basis in consultation with relevant industry bodies, giving students information that is current and relevant. The curriculum is standardised which means you can transfer your credits if you happen to relocate.
Nowadays, many graduates seek a VET qualification to get work-related skills which gives them an edge while job seeking.
Experts predict that within the course of the next year, NSW will face a need for 50,000 skilled construction workers and 19,000 chefs, so there’s never been a better time to learn a trade by doing a VET course. Better yet, 77% of VET graduates find employment after doing their course.
How much do VET courses cost?
The VET course fee you pay will depend on your personal circumstances and the type of course. Generally, the higher the qualification, the higher the fees. (E.g. The fee for a diploma is higher than that for a Certificate II.) You need to find out the following: Is the VET course government funded or do you have to pay the full fee? Are you eligible for any fee exemptions, scholarships or concessions? Are you eligible to pay a reduced rate if you have existing skills and experience (Recognition of Prior Learning or RPL)?
Since RTOs are free to set their own course fees, costs can vary from provider to provider. Generally, VET course fees usually start at $5000 and can cost +$20,000 for vocational graduate certificates and diplomas.
From 1 July 2018, the NSW Government is paying the course cost for 100,000 new apprenticeships which means that students can save up to $2000 as they do not have to pay the qualification fee.
With the variety of trades, skills, and related careers out there – what better time to go over your available career options than during National Skills Week? Whether you’re looking to acquire practical experience for a certain industry or hoping to upskill for that promotion, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for through the multitude of options that Australia’s VET sector provides.
Here at Upskilled, we provide more than 80 qualifications in industries from Beauty Therapy to Information Technology. Each one is flexibly delivered online to suit your schedule and educational needs, so check them out here – you may just find the skillset you’re after.