Why vocational study can better prepare teens for a successful career

This is advertiser content from Australian Career Business College.

A recent report is encouraging parents and school-leavers to consider a vocational course as a tertiary study option, which can offer better job prospects than university. 

The report, entitled Perceptions are not reality and released by the Skilling Australia Foundation, suggests many typical assumptions about vocational education and training (VET) can be unfounded when considering the salary data. 

Vocational education graduates have a slightly higher average salary ($56,000) compared to bachelor degree graduates ($54,000) according to research from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research and Graduate Careers Australia.

"The highest average starting salary for a VET qualification (certificate IV in hazardous areas – electrical at $85,400) is higher than the highest starting salary with a bachelor-level degree (dentistry at $80,000),” the report said.

It seems the value of VET training can go beyond just a healthier salary. Many students feel the hands-on experience of vocational training provides them a practical edge in the workforce that a university student may not gain with an academic qualification alone.

Recent graduate Hajar Ahmadi spent two years studying a Bachelor of Law at university before she began to worry about the academic structure of her degree. 

“It seemed to be all theory and assessments, and did not provide any hands-on experience in the field,” she explained.

“I tried applying for legal assistant and junior paralegal jobs, but was told I didn’t have the necessary skills or experience for these roles.”

Hajar says her worries intensified as she began the second half of her five year degree. She discussed her concerns with recent law graduates and found many couldn’t find jobs because “they didn’t know the basics of filing legal documents and legal office procedures”. 

Hajar was worried – competition is stiff, and she needed to stand out from the crowd of fellow hopeful students graduating and seeking fulltime work – a whopping 180,000 graduates in an average year.

Graduate programs are inundated with applications from students each year. GradConnection director Mike Casey says graduate programs, dozens of which are linked to universities, typically account for about 20 per cent of the graduate employment market. The largest programs can receive 5000-6000 applications from hopeful students.

It was then Hajar decided to be proactive about her concerns for future employment. She enrolled in a Diploma of Legal Services at Australian Career Business College to supplement her degree. She was surprised to find that she hadn’t learned many fundamentals required for entry-level work in a legal firm in her university degree. 

“ACBC organised work placement for me at Re-Quest International Immigration Law. Getting hands-on experience, which I wasn’t able to do at university, I found that I enjoyed the legal field and decided to continue studying for my degree at university.”

“In addition, a few weeks into work placement, I was offered employment with the firm upon receiving my vocational qualification.”

Hajar went on to apply for a full-time position at Clarence Chambers with the help of careers advisers at ACBC, and was offered a graduate position with the firm. 

She says the courese gave her the much-needed confidence required to pursue employment, thanks to her job-ready skill-set. 

“I know that studying a VET course gave me a step up into the industry,” she says.

Hajar’s story is just one of many – according to the report, almost 80 per cent of VET graduates were in work after completing their courses compared to fewer than 70 per cent of university students.

The report also found students who chose to pursue VET training alone, rather than supplementing their university degree, can enter the workforce sooner – most VET qualifications take between six months and two years to complete rather than three or four years for degrees, the study found.

And with nine of the 10 jobs with the fastest growth in demand over the next five years involving training at VET colleges, it seems the diversification of tertiary study options is going to help more Australian students excel than ever – no matter what ATAR they receive. 

This is advertiser content from Australian Career Business College.

This story Why vocational study can better prepare teens for a successful career first appeared on Parramatta Sun.