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5 signs a VET course might suit you better than a uni degree

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay | 05 February 2019

Thinking of hitting the books to chase down that career you’ve always wanted? While the common idea of ‘tertiary education’ is to work through a three-year university course for that Bachelor’s degree, you may find that alternative options may suit you and your career goals better.

Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector is designed to qualify individuals in the industry field of their choice through practical, skills-focused training and a cultivation of employable ‘soft skills’ that help fully equip them for the workforce.

It has become an increasingly popular educational pathway with an estimated 4.2 million students enrolled in an Australian VET course in 2017. With reports of a high satisfaction rate  (86.8% of VET graduates have stated they were happy with the overall quality of their course) and their success with launching students into employment, it seems that the future is bright for the country’s VET sector.

So, how would you know if VET is a good fit for you? We discuss the following factors to consider below.

More ‘hands-on’ than higher education

5 signs a VET course might suit you better than a uni degree

VET courses may not necessarily be seen in the same ‘prestigious’ light as a university education, but you can still graduate with nationally-recognised qualifications, undergoing more competency (rather than theory)-based assessments to demonstrate your capabilities.

VET education has thus been well-renowned for providing students with a highly practical approach to learning, training them in their field to study to be skills-ready for the workplace. In a recent NCVER research report, TAFE students described this curriculum as ‘learning what you’re going to do instead of… studying what you’re going to do.”

This boosts your employability in your chosen occupation and increases your chances of landing a job after completing your course. In fact, 78% of VET graduates have been shown to land employment after their training, with 82% of graduates who took part in an apprenticeship or traineeship getting employed after their training.

As well as focusing on the specific skills needed for their field of study, these courses also help develop one’s ‘soft skills’ (such as communication, collaboration, and leadership skills) and knowledge on other, general workplace-based topics (ex. Occupational Health and Safety), preparing them even further for the workforce.

Provides you with industry experience

As part of their competency-based assessments, VET courses will give students the opportunity to exercise their newfound knowledge and skills in an actual workplace of their chosen industry. These allow you to gain valuable insight into your field and network with industry professionals that can help you along your career journey.

For instance, Upskilled’s Diploma of Counselling (CHC51015) requires its students to undertake a ‘trainee counsellor’ position before attaining their qualification. Through this, they undergo a simulated workplace experience involving several supervised counselling sessions, before pursuing an actual profession in the field.

More flexibility

5 signs a VET course might suit you better than a uni degree

If you’re a current full-time worker, parent, carer, or simply juggling a hectic schedule – VET courses provide you with a myriad of flexible options to suit your current lifestyle and career goals.

As a VET student, you are given the option of completing your qualification on a full or part-time basis, and may even attain your qualification faster through recognition of previous work or life experiences. Depending on your training provider, you can also have the option of completing your entire course online - giving you the flexibility of studying where you want, when you want.

Upskilled, for instance, uses this mode of learning to deliver their courses, allowing students to study at their own pace, acquire the skills they need, and still balance out other priorities and commitments in their schedule.
In fact, former Upskilled student Bethanie D’Amico notes this advantage during her time studying the Diploma of Counselling, appreciating the ‘ability to work at your own pace’ and allowing ‘[her] own schedule to be accommodated’. If you’re known for having a busy-bee lifestyle, you may want to consider this factor when weighing out your education options.

Helps you transition into university

5 signs a VET course might suit you better than a uni degree

If you’re truly set on pursuing a university degree but didn’t arrive at the ATAR you hoped for, the qualifications offered by VET can aid you attaining the credits you need to transition into your desired university degree.
Credit Agreements are arrangements made between a registered training organisation (RTO) and universities, guaranteeing VET students entry into a university course upon completion of the required VET qualifications. In some cases, this credit transfer can even result in taking a year off a bachelor’s degree.

A study by NCVER  reported that many high school students were happy to praise this opportunity provided by VET, with many seeing it as a ‘second chance’, an alternative pathway in the case of a lacking ATAR.
If you aren’t entirely confident in pursuing a career in a certain field, VET also provides you with the option of choosing shorter qualifications to ‘sample’ your chosen industry before diving into it headfirst. These include the Certificate I-IV – though depending on your institution, you may even have the option of smaller, month-long courses to suit your preference.

You wish to upskill in your chosen field

5 signs a VET course might suit you better than a uni degree

Lastly, VET courses are an ideal educational option for those looking to simply upskill in their current profession. Not only does VET provide you with shorter qualification options and the flexibility you’ll need to juggle your current career priorities, but such training has proven to deliver an evident improvement in one’s employment status.

In a 2018 survey performed by NCVER, 45.8% of VET graduates reported a promotion in their employment status after undertaking their course. The same study also showed how several students chose to complete certain subjects rather than an entire course – it was reported that 34.3% of those who successfully completed only a ‘partial’ qualification did so with the purpose of acquiring only a certain set of skills.

On top of helping you advance professionally, studies have shown that upskilling through  VET increases employee loyalty and productivity, benefiting you, your colleagues and your employer. With the ever-evolving landscape of the workforce and the emergence of new technologies, the training VET provides also fortunately changes according to the needs of the future labour market. Currently, it provides training in 9 out of the 10 occupations  predicted to experience the greatest growth in Australia over the next five years (this including sales, carers, nurses, and accountants).

Think a VET education might be for you?

Upskilled offers over 100 qualifications  to help you get the training you’re after in the industry of your choice. Whether you’re looking to upskill, to find employment, or find an alternative pathway into university, our courses are sure to suit your career and lifestyle needs. Plus – they’re delivered online, giving you the benefit of studying anywhere, anytime.
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