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3 reasons more students are investing in a VET course

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

Though university remains as the “conventional” route post-high school, plenty of students are now opting for a practical, alternate approach to tertiary education: the VET sector. 

Short for “vocational education and training”, VET programs prepare students for the workforce through courses that focus on the hands-on, specialised training they need for their industry.

This pathway primarily has the following goals:
  • To help individuals join the workforce for the first time
  • To help individuals re-join the workforce after a break
  • Advance an individual’s skills in their chosen industry
  • Aid workers in transitioning careers
  • Preparing students for higher education options
This past decade has seen plenty of changes to the VET industry. Their course selection continues to grow, keeping pace with the rising demand of higher skillsets among employers. 

SkillsTalk dive into the current progress of the VET sector, why more students are choosing this pathway, and the future of the industry. 

The current success of the VET industry 

Australia’s VET industry has encountered massive growth in its students over the years, contributing to the rising popularity of VET education. This sector is becoming a more common choice among job-seekers, further supported through government funding options offered by providers. 

The following statistics highlight the enrolment numbers of the VET industry, and the strong financial support provided by the government. 
  • In 2019, the overall number of VET students reached 4.1 million in Australia.
  • The employment level of the tertiary education industry – including VET and higher education – grew from 182,600 in 2000 to 229,800 in 2018; and is only expected to grow further in the years to 2023.
  • There are about 276,250 apprentices and trainees undertaking further training in 2019.
  • Of the $6.1 billion in government recurrent funding provided to the VET sector in 2017, the largest contribution (51.9%) was from State and Territory direct funding.
  • Currently, there are 1.1 million government-funded VET students. 
We can attribute the government’s investment in VET funding to its largely positive employment results, benefiting the Australian workforce. Though university enrolments are on a continuous rise, the post-study employment for these graduates has experienced decline. VET education, on the other hand, proves to further enhance job prospects with 78% of graduates finding full-time work, compared to 69% of bachelor degree graduates.

So, why are more students investing in a VET course?

  1. It welcomes a brighter employment future.
  2. It provides an alternate pathway to tertiary education.
  3. It’s favoured among employers, too.

1. Welcomes a brighter employment future.

employment concept

VET education ultimately aims to equip students with job-ready skills for the in-demand industries of Australia. They deliver flexible training that responds to current market trends and innovations, helping fill any identified skills gaps across sectors. Compared to higher education degrees, some VET programs may be more cost-effective, faster pathways to industry qualifications; and are thus (generally) more accessible forms of professional training

With a course for every field, and their focus on industry-specific, “work-ready” skills – VET education offers practical, competency-based training that directly prepares students for employment in their field. 

Over the years, the VET sector has continuously proven its positive impact on student employment outcomes. The following statistics highlight such success:
  • In 2018, 59% of VET graduates improved their employment status after training (NCVER Education).
  • $56,000 is the median full-time income for a VET graduate, compared to the $54,000 median graduate salary for a bachelor’s degree graduate. (
  • According to a report released by Skilling Australia Foundation Key, statistics show that VET provides courses for 9 out of the 10 occupations with the highest predicted growth over the next 5 years. (Asset Education).
  • 75.4% of employers believe that vocational training equips workers with the skills they need for their job (NCVER Education).

2. Provides an alternate pathway to tertiary education.

University degrees are traditionally seen as the common educational pathway post-high school -  believed to enhance your employment prospects upon graduation. 

The actual outcomes, however, are a tad more cynical. Reports show a gap between low-ATAR university graduates and those with a higher ATAR; with those in the lower bracket struggling to find work after graduation, compared to their higher-ATAR peers. University graduates also sport a lower employment rate than those of their VET-graduated counterparts, as well as lower full-time incomes. 

With high schools primarily focusing on university as an option after graduating, alternative study pathways like VET courses could be a better option for those with low-ATAR scores.

While university may still be the top choice for some industries (such as medicine, pharmacy, and surveying) it’s now a well-accepted notion that it isn’t for everyone, with students encouraged to weigh out their (possibly better-fitting) alternatives. 

In a review of vocational education by Joyce Advisory, commissioned by the Commonwealth Government and released early this year – the piece noted that “stakeholders were concerned that students who would otherwise thrive in VET careers are being directed towards higher education options where they may not succeed.” 

For those more interested in acquiring hands-on skills for the workplace, rather than focusing on theory and academia – a VET course may be a worthier investment than a bachelor’s degree.

Completion and satisfaction rates in VET programs are also favourable, as the following statistics show:

  • Upper-level VET students (those pursuing an advanced diploma) who have graduated high school and are
  • aged 24 or younger successfully complete 82% of subjects they start (Grattan Institute).
  • VET students pass 92% of the subjects they complete (Grattan Institute).
  • 89% of apprentice and trainee graduates were satisfied with the quality of training received from VET courses in 2018. (NCVER Education). 

3. It’s favoured among employers, too.

woman candidate speaking during an interview

While the VET industry has plenty to offer job-seekers, employers have much to gain, as well. Many understand the training benefits of these programs – arming workers with the precise, industry-focused skillsets they need to succeed. These qualifications assure managers that their workers are well-equipped and competent for their specific role. 

Additionally, employers are increasingly integrating VET in the workplace, aware that such options motivate workers to achieve their best, enhance their loyalty, and decrease staff turnover. By investing in their staff’s abilities, they feel valued – and are more likely to offer their commitment in return. 

As an employee, undertaking VET and bringing these relevant skills to the workplace will benefit the overall business; resulting in greater innovation, role engagement, productivity, and thus – profits. 

The following statistics highlight VET’s importance among Australian employers and their positive attitudes towards the sector:

  • In 2019, 34.2% of employers had jobs requiring vocational qualifications (NCVER Education). 
  • Of those employers, 72.1% were satisfied that vocational qualifications provided their employees with the skills they needed for the job. (NCVER Education).
  • 50.9% of employers used the VET system in 2019. (NCVER Education). 
  • 19.9% of Australian employers used Nationally Recognised Training in their business. (NCVER Education).

What does the future hold for VET?

So, with students turning to VET as an increasingly viable option, what do sector projections show? 

The industry is predicted to remain a prominent provider of education within the next decade, along with the following trends:

  • With a growing population of ageing Australians, there is an increased demand for Aged Care graduates. The industry is expected to grow by 47% by 2022. (AECC Global). 
  • 9 out of 10 jobs will require a VET qualification in the future (Australian Financial Review).

Experts recommend a “future-proofing” of the VET industry, looking towards the inclusion of more “technology-centred” skills. With markets constantly disrupted by digital trends, the sector must remain ever-responsive to new technical competencies and emerging skills needs. The promotion of continual learning among workers must also remain a priority. 

Staying updated with skill demands and changing technologies can help the VET sector remain an agile, accessible, and relevant pathway for future Australian workers – keeping them “job-ready” no matter the landscape. 

Think you’re suited for VET education? 

Upskilled prides in being one of Australia’s leading training providers of VET education – offering over 80 qualifications across the nation’s largest industries. From qualifications in information technology to community services, there’s a course for almost every passion. Best of all, they’re delivered 100% online, allowing you to study according to your needs, schedule, and work commitments. Those eligible may even find support through government funding. Enquire today to find out more.  

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