Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector offers a wide variety of qualifications for students with a strong practical orientation.
VET study in general
- offers a variety of certificates and diplomas;
- develops professional and personal skills, that are closely linked with industry;
- develops career paths through a mix of study and practical work;
- generally combines classroom study as well as hands-on training;
- is competency based whereby students must demonstrate skills to gain a qualification.
The Australian VET system is publicly and privately funded and is delivered by a wide variety of training institutions and enterprises.
A comprehensive database of institutions offering VET qualifications can be found at the Training.gov.au website.
TAFE – Technical and Further Education
There are currently 42 TAFE institutes that deliver VET training across Australia. They are government funded, they provide post-school education and training, and they usually have a more practical focus than university courses. TAFE colleges act independently of one another and have their own premises, courses, and academic and administrative staff.
TAFEs can be very large institutions and have more students enrolled than many Universities. For example, most city-based TAFEs have over 50,000 enrolments. The facilities available to students are similar to those in a University. Also, they operate across a number of campuses as well as in industry and community venues.
TAFE institutes contain some of the largest ELICOS centres in Australia. They are also sometimes part of a University. For example, every university in Victoria except one has a TAFE division.
TAFE courses are often used by international students as a pathway to undergraduate programs at university, especially via the Diploma route. Some TAFEs offer university degrees through affiliated universities, and some offer their own degrees.
There are approximately 4,200 other registered providers of VET courses. These range from small institutions that offer specialised courses in one particular area of study to large private colleges which are similar to larger TAFE institutes.
A wide variety of VET courses are offered through private colleges. The most popular courses for international students are those related to Business and Information Technology.
Like TAFE, private colleges are popular with international students as pathway institutions, since they can provide entry to university studies after completing a VET qualification. Also, some private institutions offer university programs through affiliated universities, and others offer their own degrees.
VET providers offer a very large range of courses from Certificate I through to Bachelor Degrees, Graduate Certificates and sometimes Graduate Diplomas (see Training.gov.au).
Popular and common programs offered in Australia:
Business and Management
- This covers a wide range of fields. VET offers programs including information technology, frontline
management, hospitality and marketing courses.
Community services and health care
- These courses are designed to prepare students to work within organisations providing a range of
community based services.
- Courses are offered at a Certificate I entry level through to Diploma level.
- These are often designed for workers who are predominantly involved in interpersonal contact
with clients in a variety of community work services.
Communications and information technology
- These courses provide students with the detailed knowledge and skills needed for a future career
in information technologies.
Design and the arts
- These courses offer theoretical and practical studies in a student’s chosen area as well as training in
presenting work and business management.
Engineering & building
- Students can receive certificate to diploma qualifications in a wide variety of building and
engineering fields such as air-conditioning and refrigeration, carpentry, design and civil
Hospitality and tourism
- These programs can lead students into supervisory positions in the food service, hospitality and tourism industries.
Land management, agriculture, fisheries and forestry
- Training in these programs can lead students to careers in catchment and land management, water and wastewater management, farm management, conservation, land care, pest, animal and plant management, revegetation and land rehabilitation, protected area management, and wildlife management.
Sports & recreation
- These programs enable students to gain employment in a variety of fields within the sports and recreation industries.
- Students are provided with a fundamental knowledge of exercise programming, leadership and motivation, sports marketing, resistance training, nutrition, rehabilitation, personal training, and psychology.
Advantages of VET
Vocational Education and Training provides a number of significant advantages to students:
- It gives students access to many job opportunities after as little as ten months of training.
- It offers students more job opportunities and higher earnings based on their improved qualifications.
- Students can develop both practical and professional skills that are taught by industry experienced instructors.
- About 70 to 80% of employers are very satisfied with VET training since it provides students with appropriate skills, which leads to increased productivity.
- The vocational and practical nature of VET curricula places less pressure on students with lower levels of English proficiency. This gives these students more time to develop their language skills before undertaking academic level studies if they wish to continue study at a higher level of study such as at a university or other institutions which offer their own degrees.
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