Throughout our childhood we tend to get fed a few different fibs. You’ll only get Christmas presents if you behave; the ice cream truck only plays its song when it’s out of ice cream; it’s illegal to have the car light on while you’re driving.
Most of the time we get told these things with our best interests in mind, so eventually we forgive our parents and teachers because we know it’s coming from a good place. However, sometimes we get told things based on misinformation and this is when it can get problematic.
One of these times is when teachers and parents make it seem like university is the only viable pathway for success after high school. Truth is, there are a bunch of different options available to you and each have their own set of advantages.
Not everyone is well-suited to the uni life of lecture halls and essays, so if you’re not sold on the idea, here’s what you can do instead.
1. Take a VET course
VET stands for vocational education and training, which means studying one of these courses will equip you with practical skills necessary for joining the workforce. They offer pathways to many different careers and open doors to well-paid jobs in most of Australia’s boom industries–including healthcare, IT, education, professional, scientific and technical services, and construction.
Instead of getting caught up in too much theory, students studying a VET course get a more hands-on approach to their education and get the chance to learn by actually doing. VET also teaches students the skills that employers are really after – things like problem-solving, digital literacy and creative thinking. These skills are highly transferable and have been shown to help fast-track young people into full-time employment by up to 17 months.
Not all VET qualifications are the same though, and you have the option to study a Certificate I-IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma depending on how far you want to delve into a subject. These courses are delivered by TAFE NSW and a range of private providers and community colleges, and study arrangements can be flexible including full-time, part-time and online.
Another reason why VET is such an appealing option for so many young people is because these qualifications are nationally recognised, yet no ATAR is required to get in. It’s also an affordable way to do something you love, with over 700 government high-quality government-subsidised courses available through the Smart and Skilled program.
Find one that you’re keen on here.
2. Do an apprenticeship or traineeship
Apprenticeships and traineeships are also part of the VET system. They’re an ideal option for young people who don’t want to be confined to classroom learning but still want to gain skills that will put them in a good position for a great career. You receive on-the-job training from an employer, learning practical skills for real-life situations, as well as studying towards a nationally recognised Certificate qualification to ensure quality training.
Most people are familiar with apprenticeships in trade areas, like roof tiling and electrical work, but there are also traineeships in vocational areas that people don’t always suspect. These include conservation, beauty services, sport and recreation, and bank services.
One huge benefit is that apprentices and trainees get paid while they learn so they end up financially ahead of students that put themselves in debt to study a degree. Plus, from July 2018 all new apprenticeships are fee-free, while traineeships full course fees stay capped at a low $1,000. Apprentices also have excellent employment outcomes with 91.2% of VET graduates in a trade occupation course employed after their training.
The NSW Government has also implemented the Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program that ensures greater opportunity for young people, Aboriginal Australians, regional workers and women in the construction industry.
3. Learn at a community college
Throughout Australia there are community education providers that offer classes in things like creative arts, languages, business, and fitness. Some are also RTOs and can offer VET courses for you to get a formal qualification; some popular areas include early childhood, English language, and community services.
The benefit of community colleges is that they aim to provide accessible training and education to the community and disadvantaged groups in society.