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Myth busted: VET Graduates earn lower wages than Uni grads

Many Australians think VET graduates earn lower wages than university graduates, but this is not the reality graduates experience. In addition to a higher average income, VET graduates also have a greater initial earning capacity.

The Perceptions are Not Reality report, released by the Skilling Australia Foundation in 2017, discovered that despite great outcomes and results vocational education and training (VET) delivers many common misconceptions still linger.

The background

According to the report approximately 68 per cent of Australians surveyed believe that an average university graduates earns up to $10,000 more than a VET graduate. Almost a third of those people think that the wage gap is closer to $20,000.

That means one in five Australians believe that VET graduates earn less than university graduates.

This is not the reality graduates experience.

The truth

The reality of wage differences between VET and university graduates is much more positive. In fact the average VET graduate actually earns similar wages to, if not more than, an average university graduate.

Key statistics show that:

  • A bachelor graduate's median salary is $54,000*
  • A VET graduate's median full-time income is $56,000^
  • VET graduates have a higher initial earning capacity than bachelor graduates*

In addition the report found that a university undergraduate program when compared with VET courses usually takes longer to complete, and is a less cost-effective way to get a qualification and find employment. Add growing living costs to an extended time frame to get a full-time job, and vocational courses such as those offered at TAFE Queensland really stand out as the best option for career starters to make the most of their earning capacity.

VET gives students the opportunity to earn while they learn, whether that's through an apprenticeship or by studying part time while working in industry. Often that extra practical experience is what gives them an edge over university graduates too.

The research also showed that due to a need for skilled labour, employment opportunities across Australia are reduced for people with no post-school qualifications. 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. But regardless of whether you choose to study a VET or university qualification, post-school education remains a critical step to finding success in the jobs market.

Discover how TAFE Queensland can help get your career off to the right start.