A question we’re asked a lot is “Should I be taking a vocational education course, or is university a better option for me?” Of course, with everyone’s personal situation being so different, there’s no easy answer for that. What’s most important is to understand the difference between the two modes of study.
The first point is the most important; whether you are an Australian leaving high school or an international student considering a longer stay in the country, Australian post-secondary qualifications are absolutely critical to workplace success. In fact, projections from the Department of Education show that almost all jobs created in the next five years will require further study. Interestingly, seven of the top ten areas identified for ‘growth’ require a vocational level qualification, while only three need a university degree.
“University is for learning, VET is for earning” is how Skills Minister Michaela Cash sees it. “What we are hearing from employers is that we need to ensure that you have work-ready employees from day one…that is exactly what vocational education is going to give you – for both the employee and yourself as the employer”.
Senator Cash encouraged more people to take on VET qualifications like Diplomas, Certificates III and IV, and Advanced Diplomas, saying that it’s a better path to a good income, since the skills taught in VET are in high demand in Australia.
This is strongly supported by the statistics, too. In a recent survey, only 33% of university graduates felt that their degree ‘prepared them to find a job in their field’, while more than 78% of VET graduates move into related fields immediately after graduation. Considering the length and financial commitment required for the two types of study, many people are surprised to learn that VET graduates on average earn a $2000 a year higher starting salary than their university graduate counterparts.
The length and cost of study is a key difference between VET and university. VET courses typically take from around 6 months to two years of part time study to complete, while university degrees require a minimum of three or four years full time. University graduates leave full time education with an average debt of more than $30,000, while vocational courses are typically far less expensive. Of course, most VET graduates also have the advantage of having worked while they study.
So what’s the best option for you? It really depends on what you want to take out of your study. If you’re interested in learning for its own sake, and working with knowledge in an abstract way, then a Bachelor degree at an Australian university could be a key step for you in a fulfilling study journey and an engaging career.
If your focus is on learning work-ready skills and acquiring practical knowledge with real world outcomes, then it’s likely a vocational qualification is more suitable for you. Those that decided on VET report that this was because the expectations are typically far more manageable, learning outcomes are more practical, and they liked having to demonstrate the application of their skills in a work environment.
If you’d like to learn more about vocational options at Lexis Training, why not drop us a line? We’d be very happy to work with you to find the best ‘next step’ on your own study journey.