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Myth busted: vocational education and training is outdated

In 2017 the Skilling Australia Foundation released a report about the results and outcomes vocational education and training (VET) continues to deliver for students, employers, and the general economy. However a common misconception they discovered is many Australians believe VET is outdated.

The background

When given the statement in 'a globally competitive world we need university education more than VET', roughly three in five of Australians surveyed agreed. In the same group almost half also agreed that VET is no longer as relevant as university education.

However Australia is facing a skills shortage, and the fast-paced rate of change across a wide variety of industries has a significant impact on our economy. According to the Perceptions are Not Reality report, policymakers are increasingly recognising that the training and skills provided by VET courses rather than university courses are what will fill these gaps and diversify our labour pool.

The truth

If Australia wants to compete on a global scale, vocational education and training is actually more relevant than ever. VET also provides the skills we need to keep up with our quickly changing employment and industry trends.

Key statistics showed that:

  • VET provides courses for nine of 10 occupations with the highest predicted growth over the next five years*
  • VET can provide practical training for all of the 10 industry subgroups with the largest projected growth by 2020*

The Skilling Australia Foundation also found that because of how VET training packages are put together, VET is actually the best option to improve our workforce's skills because of the currency of courses, their comprehensiveness, and their adaptability to innovations and trends. VET is essential to helping prevent skills shortages and preparing us for jobs of the future.

In 2021, even after all the challenges of COVID-19, The National Careers Institute says that not only is VET still in touch with the current employment market, but also the future market. Why? Because VET is driven by industry. 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 for.

As for the arguments that VET graduates earn less and that university graduates are more employable, that is not the reality they face.