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University or VET Studies?

University or VET studies

The current discourse about the lack of skilled workers has pointed the finger at the schools because they are seen to be advising students that their best career pathway is to do a degree.

As quoted yesterday from the Daily Telegraph, Jon Black, the current boss of TAFE NSW asked “Why is it that every Uber driver I speak to has a communications, business or law degree?” He continues in the article to compare the two pathways, Vocational Education and University.

In the comparison he makes reminds the reader of some facts that many people, especially careers advisers, often ignore. It is a timely reminder in this time of increasing skills shortage.

It would serve our industry well to look at some of the comparisons and remind the “near school leavers” and Careers advisers of these facts.

•    VET courses carry a student debt of up to $4000 while University degrees carry a Student debt up to $30,000.
•    Many VET courses and ALL trades courses are a mandatory part of Employment as part of Apprenticeships. Therefore the Student Earns $$ while studying. Not so at University. Students finish the degree, hold the debt and have few job prospects and fierce competition for those jobs.
•    A study of Students at a Sydney TAFE campus found that 30% of the students enrolled in VET courses already held a degree but came back to the VET sector because of the job prospects.

In 2010 the Government raised the School leaving age in NSW and there has been a consequence. The Careers advisers, that traditionally worked with the year 11 and Year 12 students did not change their mindset. Prior to 2010 most students, who continued to the two senior years at school, did actually intend to continue on towards a degree. There were however many students who were now forced into staying at school that never wanted to go to uni, these same students were referred to the same Careers advisors and were told that their aim should be to University.

The Careers advisers were just doing what they always did, but since 2010 their audience has changed. The Student population is now a big mix of students, many would gain much greater rewards by entering a VET trades course and Employment. The Careers were not working alone because many parents also now have new hopes for their children to gain a professional qualification, thinking that this is in the only successful outcome.

Remember that ALL trades pathways start and continue with paid employment, many lead the successful Apprentice into their OWN businesses. In this day and age of rapid technological additions in all of the trades, we need to be ensuring that our School leaving age students and children get holistic advise that gives them a total picture. Today’s school students, especially those in years 10, 11 and 12 must have ALL of the information about the BEST career choices.

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