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There are options – the choice is yours

It has long been held that if you don’t do well at school you should go to TAFE - but you will never do as well as your friends who go to university.

The recently released report by the Grattan Institute, Risks and rewards: when is vocational education a good alternative to higher education? identifies that there are many people, situations and career paths where vocational education is a better choice than university, both for long term financial achievement and for career satisfaction.

The report finds that people who finish school with a low ATAR but can get into university should consider all of the options available to them. The long-term earnings and chances of completing their qualification in vocational education can be higher than those of their university graduate peers.

This report raises a number of issues which may inhibit the latest COAG agreement which wants to place vocational education on an equal status for school leavers as university education. These factors include:

  • The mandatory requirement of a degree for an increasing numbers jobs
  • Funding biases against vocational education
  • The need for better career advice, providing equal emphasis on vocational and university course options

This very detailed and thorough report is creating a significant amount of interest in the media and hopefully in schools, universities and vocational education providers around the nation. A recent program of The Project on Channel 10 took a very personal look at the reports findings.

Leading into the most recent COAG meeting, the Prime Minister Scott Morison said:

My message to those young people or those who are elsewhere engaged in the technical education system is TAFE is as good as uni and I’ve got to say some of the people that I’ve met who have been most successful in business, they’ve done it out of a trade and technical qualification.

The subsequent COAG Communique put forward a Vision for Vocational Education and Training that sets out the goal of a “responsive, dynamic and trusted sector that delivers an excellent standard of education and training”.

The combined agenda of the government and the finding of the Grattan Report have identified the urgent need for both the vocational and tertiary education systems to meet the skill needs of Australia. It is equally important that as many educational opportunities as possible lead to employment, with financial and personal satisfaction for the individual and success for the businesses sector. 

Individuals looking towards their working future need to choose their next step based upon what they want to do, what they are good at and what is available to them. All opportunities need to be presented to them and each opportunity needs to be supported, accessible, valued and recognised by government, business and the community.