By Ron Maxwell - CEO
Although in many parts of Australia, it’s starting to feel like the worst of the COVID pandemic is behind us, the reality is we will all be feeling the effects for many years to come. The impact on employment has been profound, particularly on our youth, who may face more challenges in returning to the workforce and, as a result, be more financially disadvantaged than previous generations in the longer term.
I believe Vocational Education and Training (VET) can play a significant role in addressing this challenge. It’s the perfect vehicle for school leavers, young Australians and even those looking to transition careers to find employment in growth industries. If you are looking for work or wanting to help your child find the right career pathway post-HSC, here’s a few reasons why you should consider VET.
You can build a career in a growth industry
With today’s tough job market, school leavers are required to consider not only their interests and abilities when picking a career path, but also future job prospects. VET offers pathways into many growth industries, such as community services, healthcare, construction, and energy, and is the starting point for jobs on Australia’s National Skills Needs List.
This list comprises all of the jobs where skills are in short supply. Studying for qualifications in these industries typically attracts additional financial support from the government and leads to excellent job prospects.
Additionally, research has identified that many of the jobs of the future require VET qualifications, so there are a number of options to build great career pathways with a positive employment outlook.
You have a range of options from trades to technology, leadership and finance
While many people often think of traditional trades when they think of VET, there are actually more than 500 apprenticeship and traineeship occupations. This includes traineeships in professional fields, like leadership and management, business finance and even technology. Cyber Security traineeships, for example, are on the rise, with many tech companies recognising the benefits of combining on-the-job training with study.
For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, apprenticeships and traineeships can be a great way to learn the ropes in your chosen field and then go on to own your own business down the track.
You will develop the proven skills and real-world experience employers want
In a competitive employment market, employers often look for ‘soft’ skills and experience to differentiate candidates. This means they want to see not only that you have the technical skills to do the job, but that you have the workplace skills, like critical thinking, teamwork and communication, to thrive.
One of the key benefits of VET is that you develop a combination of practical skill and real-world experience. VET is competency-based, meaning you must demonstrate you have the skills to complete the qualification – a mechanism that guarantees your future employer that you haven’t just attended class, you’ve actually learnt how to do the job.
You’re more likely to find a full-time job
According to a recent report by peak body, NCVER, more than 80% of young people who do VET after school are in full-time work by age 25, compared with 64% of those who study at university first. And this doesn’t really come as a surprise; we’ve seen a great deal of commentary in the media about the oversupply of university graduates in many industries for the last few years, and no doubt COVID will have a further impact.
You’ll earn more after graduating
On average, VET graduates earn $2000 more than their university counterparts in the first year after graduation. You may also be earning earlier. Most university degrees require a minimum of three years of study before you can start working full-time in your chosen field. That’s not the case with VET. Many qualifications require only a year of study and with longer apprenticeships and traineeships you’re out their working and earning from day one.
And many VET qualifications can lead to greater lifetime earnings too. With skills shortages in many areas, particularly our traditional trades, VET graduates can – and often do – earn more than university graduates over the course of their careers.
You can continue to build on your skills to advance your career
VET is a great option for upskilling and reskilling throughout your career, and this is critical in a world where change is constant. With shorter, skill-based courses you can continue to develop new skills throughout your career.
From the outset, there are flexible pathways designed to support your goals. You may want to start with a certificate-level course and get out into the workforce sooner, for example. You can come back and study your diploma when it’s time to take the next step in your career. Others might want to dive straight into a diploma course and spend more time studying to gain a higher qualification. It’s all about finding the option that suits you.
You can also complete short courses that are designed to add to your employability – for both casual employment while you study and your eventual career. This includes skills that employers in some industries need and others like to have, such as Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) or First Aid.
Explore your options with VET
Whether you are leaving school in 2020 or already in the workforce and looking to transition careers, VET can put you on a pathway to a fulfilling career. If you haven’t considered a VET career pathway, it might be time to explore your options.