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Myth busted: uni graduates are more employable than VET graduates

A third of Australians believe that university graduates find work more easily than VET graduates. The reality is that almost 10 per cent more VET students are employed after graduating, compared to their uni counterparts.

According to a 2017 report released by the Skilling Australia Foundation, many Australians still believe that university graduates are more employable than vocational education and training (VET) graduates. Yet VET continues to deliver excellent results and outcomes for students, industry, and the Australian economy.

The background

The Perceptions are Not Reality report found that almost 30 per cent of Australians surveyed believe that university graduates find work more easily than VET graduates. It was also a common opinion that university is the only way to find a full-time career.

But between 2015 and 2016 alone more than 36 per cent of occupations in Australia reported a shortage of labour*, and there are continuing reports that Australia is experiencing severe skills shortages across a number of industries that are critical to the country's economic success.

There is need for skilled labour that's not being met, and at the same time both unemployment and underemployment rates are high. So where are the jobs going if not to university graduates?

The truth

Skilling Foundation Australia's research indicates that university graduates actually have a lower employment rate than VET graduates. In fact more than three quarters of VET graduates find employment.

Key statistics showed that:

  • Undergraduate employment rates have fallen significantly in the last decade to just 69 per cent
  • The average employment rate of a VET graduate is 78 per cent
  • VET graduates who completed an apprenticeship or traineeship have an employment rate of 82 percent
  • For VET graduates who complete a trade-based apprenticeship the employment rate can be as high as 91 per cent

In addition, nine of 10 of the job types with the highest predicted growth over the five years* until 2021 were covered by VET, and VET actually offered a seamless pathway to the 10th option.

Fact: TAFE Queensland offers training in or pathways to all 10 of these occupations.

Findings also show that completing a VET course lowers the chance of becoming long-term unemployed, and is one of the most accessible and cost effective ways to access education to increase employment opportunities.

Even now in 2021, after the challenges of COVID-19 and given the volatile nature of the pandemic, it's difficult to make employment projections. However the Australian Government's Labour Market Information Portal has identified key industries that are likely to continue to experience strong growth in the years leading to 2024. These include health care and community serviceseducation and trainingconstruction, and more. All industries that VET, and TAFE Queensland, still provide training or a pathway to university.