Ep 5: VET courses or (Vocational Education and Training)
In our last episode we talked about English Language programs in Australia, also known as ELICOS, types of ELICOS courses, English tests, course costs and the quality of ELICOS courses in Australian Colleges.
In this Episode today, Episode 5, we’re going to concentrate on Vocational Education and Training or VET courses, industry links, the skills required and potential career paths associated with VET courses.
Vocational means “work” or “career”, so Vocational Education and Training or VET is focused on education and training specifically for work purposes.
In general, VET study offers a variety of Certificates and Diplomas which are designed to develop professional and personal skills that are closely linked with industry
VET courses develop career paths through a mix of study and practical work experience
They generally combine classroom study as well as hands-on practical training
And are competency based, whereby students must demonstrate skills to gain a particular qualification.
So now we’ll talk about the structure of the Australian VET Sector..
Australia’s VET sector offers a large variety of qualifications for
students with a strong practical orientation.
According to the Department of Education and Training,
there were over 230,000 international student enrolments in VET courses in Australia in 2019.
The top three source countries were India, Nepal and China.
VET students are typically school leavers seeking to acquire practical skills for work purposes
Or school leavers seeking an alternative pathway to University
Or workers who are seeking to further develop their career skills
Or University graduates who need to acquire practical skills for specific roles
Or those students simply wishing to develop their own personal interests.
The Australian VET system is both publicly and privately funded and is delivered by a wide variety of training institutions and enterprises.
The publicly funded institutions are called Technical and Further Education or TAFE Colleges.
There are currently over 40 TAFE Colleges that deliver VET training across Australia.
They are government funded and provide post-school education and training and they usually have a more practical focus than
TAFE Colleges act independently of one another and have their own premises, courses, academic and administrative staff.
TAFE Colleges are usually large institutions and can have more students enrolled than many Universities.
For example, most city based TAFEs have over 50,000 student enrolments per year.
The facilities available to students are similar to those at University.
Also, they operate across a number of campuses as well as in industry and community venues.
TAFE Colleges also contain some of the largest ELICOS centres in Australia.
They are also sometimes joined to a University.
TAFE courses are often used by international students as a pathway to undergraduate programs at University, especially via the Diploma pathway.
Some TAFEs offer University degrees through affiliated Universities and
some offer their own degrees as well.
There are also Private VET Colleges.
There are over 4,000 privately registered providers of VET courses in Australia.
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 Colleges.
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, as 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 as well.
Some Senior Secondary schools also offer VET courses to their senior students.
This means students can gain practical work skills and VET qualifications
as part of their school education.
So, students can study their Senior Secondary Certificate and they can also be trainees and employees by participating in a work based pathway.
VET providers offer a very large range of courses from Certificate I through to Bachelor Degrees, Graduate Certificates and sometimes Graduate Diplomas.
The commonly offered VET programs in Australia are..
Business and Management which covers a wide range of Business and Management fields incorporating for instance Accounting, Finance, Management and Marketing.
Community Services and Health Care courses are designed to prepare students to work within organisations providing a range of
community based services.
These are often designed for workers who are predominantly involved in interpersonal contact with clients in a variety of community work services like Aged Care or Disability Care.
Communications and Information Technology courses provide students with the detailed knowledge and skills needed for a future career
in information technologies.
Design and the Arts courses offer theoretical and practical studies in a student’s chosen area of the Arts or Design.
Engineering & Building courses include a wide variety of building and
engineering fields such as Air-conditioning and Refrigeration, Carpentry, Design and Civil Engineering.
Hospitality and Tourism courses can lead students into positions in the Food Service, Hospitality and Tourism industries.
Land Management, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry courses can lead students into 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
Sports & Recreation courses enable students to gain employment in a variety of fields within the Sports and Recreation industries like Personal Training or work in Gyms.
Students are provided with a fundamental knowledge of exercise programming, leadership and motivation, sports marketing, resistance training, nutrition, rehabilitation, personal training, and psychology.
The VET sector offers eight qualifications:
Certificate I which is between 3 to 6 months in duration
Certificate II & III which is between 6 to 12 months in duration
Certificate IV which is usually 1 year in duration
Diploma which is between 1 to 2 years in duration
Advanced Diploma which is between 2 to 2.5 years in duration
Vocational Graduate Certificate which is usually 6 months in duration
Vocational Graduate Diploma which is between 1 to 1.5 years in duration
The general aim of Certificate level courses is to prepare students for both employment and further education and training and recognise skills and knowledge that meet national industry standards.
Certificates I and II are qualifications which recognise the students’ basic vocational skills and knowledge.
Certificates III and IV are the equivalent of trade certificates in various vocations.
These prepare students for both employment and further education and training in their chosen field.
Diploma courses aim to prepare students to use their skills and knowledge based on fundamental principles and complex techniques and recognise the ability to show initiative and judgment across a broad range of technical and management functions.
The Advanced Diploma is a more specialised qualification that develops skill and knowledge of a greater complexity and a higher level of personal accountability.
Some TAFE Colleges and private providers also offer programs above Diploma level and the educational outcomes align with the affiliated University outcomes.
Australian VET qualifications have been popular amongst international students for many years.
Entry requirements can vary from institution to institution and from course to course.
In general, to begin a certificate level course, students need a qualification equivalent to Year 11 or 12 in an Australian High School and an English language proficiency of IELTS 5.5 or equivalent.
Entry requirements above certificate level may take into account previous training and experience within an industry.
This process is known as Recognition of Prior Learning or RPL.
RPL allows a person to receive recognition and credit for the knowledge and skills they have achieved either on the job or at another institution in Australia or overseas.
This can include skills from previous study, including courses at school or college, through adult education classes or training programs at work
Through work experience, including both work that is paid or unpaid
And life experience, for example leisure pursuits or voluntary work.
To obtain RPL, it is important that a student’s knowledge and skills help to meet the learning outcomes and assessment criteria of the qualification that the student is seeking credit for.
Each institution makes these assessments independently.
VET course fees can vary depending on the course and the institution.
As a general guide, international students are charged tuition fees between $A5,000 to over $20,000 per year depending on the course and duration.
The VET Quality Assurance Framework is aimed at achieving national consistency in the way providers are registered and monitored and in how educational standards in the VET sector are enforced.
ASQA is the regulatory body which sets these standards and provides organisations with the approval to offer VET courses.
There are two elements to the VET Quality Assurance Framework; firstly there are standards that govern the operations of the Registered Training Organisations and secondly there are standards that govern the nature of the VET courses.
There are 8 VET qualifications which are part of the Australian Qualifications Framework or AQF; they are Certificates I, II, III and IV; Diploma and Advanced Diploma; Vocational Graduate Certificate and Vocational Graduate Diploma.
The Standards for Registered Training Organisations requires them to have documented systems for quality training and assessment
Have documented agreements with other organisations when they provide training or assessment in partnership
Have written procedures for recruitment, induction and professional development of staff
Use trainers and assessors or teachers with specified skills
Follow specific requirements for assessment strategies and demonstrate that their owners or CEOs are suitable individuals to operate an education organisation.
Training packages are developed to meet the training needs of an industry, or a group of industries.
Training packages specify the skills and knowledge required to perform effectively in a particular workplace or industry.
Each training package is made up of three components; firstly there are units of competency which define the skills and knowledge to operate effectively and how they should be applied to perform effectively in a workplace context.
Secondly the Qualifications framework or groups of units of competency vary across the different qualifications from Certificate I to Vocational
Graduate Diploma level.
Thirdly the assessment guidelines which defines industry’s preferred approach to assessment, including the qualifications required by assessors, the design of assessment processes and how assessments
should be conducted.
Where there are no training packages for a particular workplace available, a VET course may be accredited by an organisation.
There are specific standards and requirements for all accredited courses and each VET accredited course is allocated a national code and is listed on the national training register.
A major strength of the VET system is that it provides an alternative pathway to higher education or more specialised vocational training.
AQF qualifications link with each other in a range of learning pathways between Schools, VET providers and Universities.
This encourages cross-sectoral linkage programs such as VET courses in Schools which allows schools to offer industry-based units of learning that can contribute to both the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education and Certificate I to IV qualifications.
There is Articulation and Credit Transfer Arrangements between registered VET providers and Universities which involves the efficient articulation of programs and maximum credit transfer.
As discussed, RPL may be granted towards qualifications through assessment of an individual’s knowledge and skills gained through education, training, work and life experience.
In addition, the pathway from VET to University is becoming
This enables students to gain industry experience needed to increase their employment opportunities.
The VET sector provides a number of significant advantages to students, firstly it gives students access to many job opportunities after as little as 6 months of training.
It offers students more job opportunities and higher earnings based on their improved qualifications and experience.
Students can develop both practical and professional skills that are taught by industry experienced instructors.
Most employers are very satisfied with VET training programs as they provide 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.
So that’s the end of Study in Australia TV Episode 5 on Vocational Education and Training.
I hope you learnt a lot about the VET system and understand more about VET courses and what makes them different to the courses offered in Higher Education or University level.
Please let us know if you have any questions on this Episode, or if you have any feedback or just like the content.
We’d love to hear from you and can always help you to find the right course if you’re looking to study in Australia.
Bye for now!