The recession and successive slow recovery period has put a damper on university and graduate enrolment. Many people are realising their money, time, and efforts are better spent on a narrow field that applies directly to their dream career.

Trades & TAFE programs are typically much more hands on than traditional university undergraduate programs.

The learning environment these programs offer actually allows you to demonstrate and develop your skills in particular fields instead of simply reading about them in a textbook. Hands-on, practical training is an aspect that conventional undergraduate programs are significantly lacking.

The biggest problem facing the “Trade” industry right now is a shortage of trained workers. As the skilled trades industry continues to use increasingly complicated computer equipment and technology, these programs are becoming much more desirable. Skilled trade personnel will always be in demand despite the economic climate at the time. Plumbers, electricians, carpenters and car mechanics will always have opportunities especially as technology continues, and the growing population.

In the today’s financial climate more working professionals are changing up their career goals and exploring different options through these types of programs. There are tonnes of careers that require some sort of certificate or two-year program such as paralegals and beauticians.

The hard fact is that many of these “Trade Jobs” will pay more than those typically held by workers with a University Degree. The notion that “TAFES” are dumping grounds for students lacking strong academic skills is a thought of the past. Europe has been using vocational education systems for years now claiming they offer a more comprehensive education. This is emphasised in the fact that students are preparing for their careers at an earlier age.

“Vocational education programs have made a real difference in the lives of countless young people nationwide; they build self confidence and leadership skills by allowing students to utilize their unique gifts and talents.”

Not everyone is cut out for the rigorous nature of a four-year university, but unfortunately our society makes it very difficult for young adults to even consider not going to University. If students had a choice to focus on a particular skill they were good at and improve it, they should be able to do so without the anxiety not having a degree behind them. This is a happy medium between high school and the career world.

We need to understand that our society needs a variety of skills in order to keep the economy afloat. Why is there such a push for high school graduates to pursue University Degrees? They say we are an ageing population, meaning people are working longer, compared to the generations before us. We are now finding that these days there are more and more students slugging out a Uni Degree, stressed and worried about maintaining a casual job, finishing assessments whilst managing a part-time “non paid” internship; All in the hope to land a entry level job at the end of it all. In which you end up taking home the same pay packet as a 4th Year Apprentice.

A good friend of mine Tim Pasternatsky (23) is an Electrician from Sydney and absolutely loves being a “Sparky”. Tim said he could never imagine himself back in a School setting, he always knew this was the path he wanted to take. Mike Bachelor (21) began his trade during year 11 at high school and has never regretted his decision. In 2012 Mike was awarded the “apprentice of the year” for which he credits to knowing that he wanted to do a “Trade” and being able to do so at the age which suited him. Nowadays it is much more important to focus on a career you love because that is what will result in self-fulfillment.

Trades and hard work is what built our country. It allows for students to have the opportunity to really know what they want to pursue in their lives. Our society is saturated in certain areas of expertise and we need an alternative. We need to focus on student’s strengths and help place them in careers that would best suit their capabilities.

TAFES and Trade schools help people become productive citizens who can make a difference in everyday life. Instead of looking down upon them, as society often does, it may be time to encourage them.