By Ron Maxwell - CEO

It’s no secret that the number of school leavers choosing vocational education has dropped significantly in the last decade, with schools encouraging students to choose university. But are we really preparing our school leavers for work?

I would say we’re doing the opposite.

We’re limiting our students’ thinking about career and education options, and driving a generation with academic knowledge, but little in the way of the skills employers are actually looking for.

This is only going to create increasing social and economic problems, fuelled by an oversupply of university graduates with heavy debt loads entering a labour market with limited prospects.

Schools have tunnel vision when it comes to careers

In a recent national study of school leavers, one third said their school did not even discuss vocational careers or opportunities outside of a university education. With a looming skills shortage, and growing youth unemployment, we are failing not only our kids, but also our economy.

The focus on university is leading us to a generation that, on many levels, is unemployable. I talk to employers every day, and what I am hearing is that they are struggling to find qualified candidates who have the aptitude for critical thinking (not just memorising)- and other core workplace skills.

The school curriculum is missing “work” skills. The national curriculum is out-dated, and it feels as though it is struggling to keep up with our rapidly changing labour market. Our school system is still working on the view of a single career for life - that stability is long gone, with most people now enjoying many different career paths in their lifetime.

Clare Madden, a leading researcher on social trends, presented recently at a VERTO conference on what we’re teaching school students. It’s frightening what passes for ‘in depth’ research these days. When school students go beyond the first page of a Google search, that’s considered in-depth research! It might be laughable, if it wasn’t leading to such dire consequences for the next generation.

This focus on university is a hang-over from the 1970s, when Australia needed more degree-qualified professionals. And while the scales have tilted heavily towards a skill shortage in key vocational industries, our school system remains geared towards academic learning and university.

Demand for university graduates dropping

I was talking about this only recently with a colleague of mine, who is in the NSW Law Society, and he was saying that there are now many more law graduates than there are jobs. In fact, it’s been noted that graduate unemployment is worse now than it was during the 1990s recession.

University is expensive, and what happens when these students graduate saddled with massive debt and limited job prospects?

Vocational training more important than ever

Vocational Education and Training (VET) opens up career paths across a wide range of industries. With national skill shortages across the aged care, agriculture and hospitality sectors, to name just a few, it’s an excellent choice for school leavers, and one we need to start showcasing better to students in our schools.

VET also offers the practical and soft skills that make good employees, experience through on-the-job training, and qualifications in industries where there are a wide-range of job opportunities currently going begging.

Often unfairly viewed as a “lesser choice,” we actually know that VET graduates are, on average, earning a starting salary that is $2,000 more than university graduates, and this is only going to rise as the demand far outweighs the number of skilled workers.

The time for change is now

The solution lies with governments and the school system working closely with industry, updating the curriculum to include critical thinking and core job-ready skills, and shifting focus to put VET career options on the same level as university.    

But they need to act quickly.

Our school leavers need to be able to succeed in a rapidly changing environment. You can’t cast out the basics of an academic education, but if schools can shift focus to include these skills, we can keep our industries, economy and labour market thriving into the future.

Employment Services

Employment Services

At VERTO, we offer a range of employment services designed to help both individuals and businesses find the right opportunities.
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Community Services

VERTO’s Community Services programs provide free, practical assistance on a range of services for selected regional communities.
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Whether you are unemployed and wanting to secure a job or looking to formalise your skills through study, VERTO has a course for you.

 

 

VERTO Celebrates 40 Years

This October, VERTO is celebrating 40 years of supporting people in NSW through quality education, employment, apprenticeship, and community services.

According to VERTO CEO, Ron Maxwell, VERTO has grown from humble beginnings as a small evening college in Bathurst to a national organisation employing more than 500 staff and servicing thousands of clients every year.

Founded in 1983 as the Central West Regional Evening College and in 2012, rebranded as VERTO Limited – with VERTO being Latin for ‘transform’.

Read more

Why choose Verto

VERTO is a not-for-profit organisation assisting businesses and individuals with all their apprenticeship, employment and training needs.

Our expertise covers a range of areas including Aboriginal services, Australian apprenticeships services, disability services, employment services and vocational training to help businesses, individuals and local industry to thrive.

You'll find the team in over 65 locations New South Wales.

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Employment Services

Finding work is an enormous part of life. At VERTO, we offer a range of employment services designed to help both individuals and businesses find the right opportunities. Our team can provide support and guidance across a range of government-funded programs, all designed to make finding the right job or employee a much-improved process.

These services are FREE to individuals and businesses, supported by the Australian Government. 

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      At VERTO, our goal is to provide the training and skills development that will prepare you for the future. We offer a range of training courses that cover numerous skills and qualifications.

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        Tina Baker

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        Brian Edwards

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        Brittany Edwards

        I have never had a job, I went to VERTO and Kirstie referred me to Anthony who set up an interview. They took me to the interview and got me the job. They helped me get a tax file number and a Super account, they helped me fill out all the forms. My family is so proud of me and VERTO have been amazing. Thank you everyone at the Orange team.

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        Gemma McGowan

        My consultants have been incredibly helpful and supportive, and it was such a relief being with VERTO compared to other employment providers. I felt so much acceptance and compassion towards my personal situation, which made me feel a lot better and less anxious. Thank you Rai and Shaylene at VERTO Murwillumbah, you guys rock!!

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        Sharon Wilson-Webster

        Kerrie has been an incredible and constructive support, personally and practically. She has offered me opportunities to develop my skills and knowledge and guided me towards the right job opportunities which best suit to my strengths and interests. She is very knowledgeable and friendly, always willing to go above and beyond to help.

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        Brad Stuart

        Lauren Waite is my job placement representative in Nelson Bay. She has always listened to my work-related circumstances without any judgment. I find her very accommodating with personal concerns regarding my work situation. My experience so far working with Lauren has been very open and honest, and I value her assistance.

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        Frank Oates

        My name is Frank and from the first day I walked into VERTO's office in Broken Hill, my experience has been nothing short of amazing. My consultant Merridy has been incredibly supportive and understanding in meeting my cultural needs, and I see her as a true living angel. The assistance she provided me was of the utmost professionalism.

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        Nadine McEwan

        I have had the pleasure of dealing with Abraham Ghossain for the past 3 years now and have to say he is the best at VERTO. Super responsive and always goes above and beyond the get the job done. He is extremely knowledgeable within his field and very professional. Looking forward to continuing to work with you in the future.

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        Troy McVerry

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