University vs vocational training: what’s best for a future career?

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Many Australians feel the education system isn’t doing enough to prepare our students for the future according to the recent Australia Talks National Survey. Satisfaction in the system has hit a low point at just 37 per cent, while 43 per cent of people are dissatisfied. Why might this be the case?

Graph shows 43 per cent of Australians dissatisfied with education system Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Growing demand for vocational skills

As our education system adjusts to the longer-term effects of the pandemic, a new report into school leavers’ transition into work or further education has recommended that the ATAR "cannot continue to dominate the education experience." Instead, schools should be providing a space for students to pursue vocational pathways and the skills that can give them a head start on their careers.

Vocational pathways are set to provide higher paying and in demand jobs, as the pandemic accelerates the already booming construction industry and lack of immigration from border closures result in skill shortages in hospitality. Schools are looking to remove the stigma that these pathways are ‘second class’ to University. They are not only a more affordable option for students, but will provide them with the technical skills to lead highly successful careers in some of the fastest growing industries.

What schools are doing to encourage vocational pathways

Schools across Australia have recognised the importance of vocational training to address skill shortages in their communities. Many have expanded their curriculum to offer clear alternatives to the HSC and tertiary education pathways, with opportunities to develop skills specific to a student's chosen career.

Addressing skill shortages in regional Australia

The demand for workers in regional Australia has hit an all time high and surpassed that of during the mining boom. Hospitality employers have been “crying out for chefs and cooks” with some businesses forced to close due to unfilled roles.

Taree Christian College has invested resources to help its students upskill in the hospitality industry in response to growing demand for regional students to pursue the career path. The construction of a hospitality kitchen has allowed students to get a VET qualification before they leave school, and get a head start on their future career.

Bishop Druitt College in Coffs Harbour has made vocational pathways a priority for its students through it’s career pathways program, which includes direct partnerships with the local TAFE. The College is offering its students a range of co-curricular activities, such as excursions to career expos and hosting industry workshops to set them up to become their own career managers.

Specialty schools expanding their curriculum

The Australian Industry Trade College is a specialty school in Queensland where 90% of students graduate with a paid industry apprenticeship or traineeship. The curriculum has been expanded so that students spend half their time completing their senior education at school and the other half gaining hands-on experience in their chosen trade or craft.

Similarly, The McDonald College in Sydney has specialised in providing its students with training in performing arts on a daily basis, while ensuring they have a strong academic foundation if they choose the University pathway. This education model gives students greater opportunities to pursue a career in the creative industry, and has produced famous alumni including Nikki Webster and Emma Watkins.

Not all students want to pursue a University degree, so it’s important that they have access to some of the fantastic vocational training pathways alongside their academic studies. Whatever pathway they choose, Edstart can help families cover any associated education costs, from vocational training programs to private tutoring and University textbooks.

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