VET: The important education options parents aren’t talking about

This article originally appeared on the Herald Sun (as an advertisement). See the full article here.

Breaking into today’s job market is tough. Vocational education and training delivers the employment skills people need for jobs now and in the future.

When it comes to career plans for the future, Steven Neville is on the right path. The 20-year-old is pursuing his passion for information technology (IT) through vocational education and training (VET), gaining no less than five qualifications in the last four years, and securing short-term paid work.

Steven recently completed a VET course in cybersecurity, an area where experienced workers earn an average base salary of around $150,000.

“I got interested in IT in early high school—I really enjoyed building websites, making games and learning networks,” says the Western Sydney student. “But when I was in Year 10 and picking my HSC subjects, we found out IT wasn’t running again at my school.”

The omission meant Steven had to look for study options off-campus. Fortunately, his school advisers suggested VET—and his parents quickly saw the benefits, including the additional support offered to students with disability.

“My parents were very open to it, they thought it was a good idea,” says Steven, who has a visual impairment. “They knew I was a person who learns more from hands-on work, which is how the VET courses are presented. And there’s great support from the staff. In my case, they provided me a larger monitor pretty much instantly.”

More parents need to talk about VET

Parents are a key influencer when it comes to helping their children choose an education pathway, but many aren’t aware that VET leads to interesting and well-paid jobs in hundreds of careers. Many more aren’t even discussing VET as an option with their kids.

According to new research from the NSW Government and Year13, nearly half of young males (45%) don’t know what career to pursue, while 91% of young females are clear about the choice they’ll make. Compounding this is the revelation that only a third of parents had a positive opinion of VET, with most respondents basing this on the fact their parents had never spoken with them about it.

“All teenagers need guidance as they explore career paths, but it’s evident that boys in particular require support to explore all the options available,” says David Collins, Executive Director Training Services NSW. “Parents and caregivers can help school leavers by exploring a range of study options including VET.”

VET opens doors to opportunities

A proven path to success, “VET delivers employment outcomes as high as 91% for some graduates and opens doors to opportunity for a range of interesting and well-paid careers,” says David. “It also opens doors to industry sectors like healthcare and social assistance, construction and infrastructure, and education and training, which are all expected to record jobs booms in the coming years.”

VET offers a huge range of courses, traineeships and fee-free apprenticeships, and more than 780 VET courses are subsidised by the NSW Government, making it an affordable choice for many. There is also fee-free training for those who need it most, including eligible students with disability or social disadvantage.

Alongside the practical, job-ready skills employers need, VET also delivers broader ‘employability’ skills that research shows hold increasing value across all workplaces. These include skills Steven has honed throughout his VET journey, such as active learning, originality and initiative, emotional intelligence, and complex problem-solving.

A proven path to future success

VET courses are aligned to the needs of industry, so what you learn is what’s needed in the workplace. After finishing high school, when he studied his Certificate III in Information & Digital Technology, in 2017, Steven and his parents again discussed the merits of VET.

“I received many university guides and I attended an open day, which one of my parents came to with me,” he says. “Because of my past experience and the extra support I’d received, we agreed that, in my case, VET would still be the better path to go with. Plus it was closer to home and more accessible to get to.”

In return, Steven’s focus and determination to complete a Certificate IV and Diploma in IT, alongside a range of industry-specific part-qualifications, has more than impressed his parents. “They were always very happy with me, they could see I always put the time in and was always on time when attending class,” he says.

Steven’s aim now is to secure ongoing employment and spend his days doing what he loves most: finding solutions to people’s problems. “Because not all problems in IT are the same, you’re constantly learning,” he says. “That’s what I like—always learning each day.”

A vocational education and training (VET) qualification is a valuable tertiary qualification that can open doors to a lot of different careers and many highly-paid and interesting jobs. Find out more.

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