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Australian Vocational Courses: ‘Dead as Dinosaurs’ or Still Relevant Today?
Are Vocational Courses Still Relevant Today?
A skilled workforce is critical for countries that want to avoid stagnation and create jobs to grow their economy.
Australia has historically relied on vocational education and training to provide its workforce needs. Recent changes in the Australian economy however have dramatically changed the landscape in terms in what industries our workforce now resides, so the question today is – is vocational training still relevant in today’s economy?
It is now critical for Australia to make sure it has competent workers who are ready to fill in the needs of today’s rising industries. The country can no longer depend as heavily on industries such as the mining and the resources sector, and it now has to give its workers new skills to help them get into the growing careers of this day and age.
So.. do Australians still rely on vocational education to get into these new careers… and how relevant is the VET sector to Australian industries today?
1. Do Australians still benefit from VET courses?
Vocational training courses aim to give people the necessary skills and knowledge to help them find jobs, advance their career, or pursue higher education. How many Australians today still enjoy these same benefits?
Millions of them do according to official reports and surveys.
3.9 million Australians participate in VET programs based on NCVER’s latest VET Students and Courses report with almost 1.8 million students being government-funded.
Earlier this year, the Productivity Commission found that more than 6 out of 10 VET government-funded students improved their employment status upon completing their training course and gaining their qualification. These improvements included:
- • Finding a job after being previously unemployed
- • Being employed at a higher skill level
- • Receiving a promotion
- • Starting or expanding their own business
- • Receiving increased earnings
Additionally, NCVER’s Student Outcomes Survey in 2014 found that 73% of government-funded VET graduates received at least 1 job-related benefit similar to the ones above 6 months after graduating. This data suggests that completing vocational courses continue to be beneficial for most Australians.
II. Are students and employers satisfied with VET?
Almost 9 out of 10 government-funded VET graduates reported that they were satisfied with the quality of education they received in 2014. Almost as many graduates also reported that they achieved their main reason or goal for entering training in the first place, according to the NCVER survey.
Employment-related goals commonly achieved through VET qualifications include:
- • To get a job
- • Start or develop their business
- • Try a different career
- • Get a promotion
- • Gain extra skills for their current job
- • Get into another course of study
- • To advance their personal development
82% of training graduates achieved at least one these goals through the VET system.
Given the wide variety of benefits VET courses have, it’s not surprising that vocational training courses are practical and useful across a wide range of industries for the overwhelming majority of Australians.
A similar response can be found in industry. Organisations still rely heavily on VET qualifications to find suitable employees who will help grow their business.
In fact, more than half of all surveyed employers Australia-wide actively use the VET system today. More than a third of employers in 2015 even had jobs requiring candidates to hold a vocational qualification.
Additionally, out of all the employers surveyed:
- • 76% said VET courses provide their employees with the skills needed for their job
- • 82% said VET trainees and apprenticeships receive skills needed for their job
- • 84% said nationally accredited training equips staff with essential work skills
III. How much do VET graduates earn?
Salaries of VET graduates depend greatly on several factors including their field of education, and the industry they enter – but graduates generally earn healthy annual income after VET courses.
In fact, VET graduates enjoy increasing average earnings as the qualification level rises. In 2014, full time working graduates earned an annual average of:
- • $41,600 if they held a Certificate I
- • $47,900 if they held a Certificate II
- • $52,200 if they held a Certificate III
- • $62,600 if they held a Certificate IV
- • $63,500 if they held a Diploma or higher level qualification
IV. How do vocational courses maintain their relevance today?
The most recent reports and statistics today show that vocational training courses still play a critical role in giving Australians careers.
Not only does the VET system help us find jobs, they also fuel the country’s economic growth, social, and workforce needs. A lack of skilled workers can potentially derail our economy, particularly if it holds back critical sectors and services such as agriculture, child care, construction, aged care and traditional trades, demonstrating how critical VET qualifications remain to our economy.
Today’s students and industry professionals are still looking for practical, flexible, and quality education and training that will help them in their career. These are qualities that VET courses excel in delivering, making them a go-to source for many aspiring Australians today.
It is no wonder VET qualifications are still so popular, because vocational training gives the individual the choice of studying in a private training organisation, a niche industry provider, a TAFE institute or an established university.
In 2015, many VET courses are now delivered through either online/distance learning, face to face workshops, in actual work environments, or a combination of all these study methods. This makes them flexible enough to meet a large range of learning and lifestyle needs, further strengthening their relevance in an era where time is short, life demands high, and people are busy juggling social, family, and work commitments.
The VET system is still one of the most reliable providers when people want education they know will prepare them for a rewarding career.
As long as training courses maintain their quality and meet this goal, vocational courses will continue to remain a relevant and thriving contributor to Australia across a broad range of industries, and an essential component of Australia’s education sector, making them more relevant today than ever.
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