VET stands for vocational education and training, and is a common term in Australia for nationally recognised tertiary qualifications outside of university. A VET qualification is an extremely attractive alternative to a degree for high school leavers. It offers faster career development, an opportunity to earn a wage and industry experience as you study, and valuable real-world application of relevant skills.
Here in Australia, VET is a means to gain the skills and knowledge needed to enjoy career success without accruing large amounts of student debt or delaying your entry to the workforce.
Here's everything you need to know about VET in Australia!
What is VET in Australia?
Vocational education and training (VET) is one of two main further education options for people leaving high school, the other being university. VET programmes are designed to equip students with the necessary skills for work in a related industry. Where university is often more academic and theoretical, a VET programme will see you engaging in more practical, hands-on learning and gaining directly applicable skills, which you'll practice alongside your studies in integrated industry placements.
VET programmes are a fantastic opportunity for anyone who plans to:
- Gain a qualification and enter the workforce quickly.
- Retrain for a new career.
- Update their skills for the present day industry.
- Open pathways to post-graduate study (master's degrees).
Schools that provide VET qualifications are known as Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and include technical and further education (TAFE) institutes and private colleges, like Kenvale.
What VET qualifications are available?
Formal VET programmes equip you with the skills to succeed in a specialised industry, and with a nationally recognised qualification according to your choice of programme and how long you study. These include:
- Certificates: Ranging from Certificate I through IV, these courses span as little as four weeks to two years. Available at different levels, certificates can provide basic entry-level skills as well as those required to succeed in a supervisory or management role.
- Diplomas: A diploma equips you with specialised skills to excel in professional roles, such as hospitality management. Combined with years of experience, a diploma can also be leveraged as a springboard into post-graduate study. Expect at least one year of study to achieve a diploma.
- Advanced Diplomas: An advanced diploma takes your skills one step further and prepares you for work at an executive level. These programmes typically run for 18 months to two years.
- Vocational Graduate Certificate or Diploma: These are equivalent to higher education graduate certificates and diplomas, delivered by RTOs and incorporating employment-based skills learning.
How is VET taught?
VET programmes are generally taught using a combination of classroom study and workplace experience. Assessment is based less on your understanding of theoretical concepts and more on your ability to apply the skills learned in class in your relevant work placement, and reflect accordingly.
Study in a VET programme is more focused on the relevant industry. Although the courses are shorter, the skills gained are more specialised and immediately applicable to the real world.
In a given week, you will work in a small classroom of likeminded students for two days and engage in paid industry work for roughly 20 hours. Not only does this allow you to put theory to practice immediately, it keeps your week full of variety and fun. Throughout your course, you'll complete a number of assessments designed to measure your performance in the workplace and uptake of relevant skills, rather than undergoing end-of-semester exams.
Is a VET qualification an accepted alternative to a university degree?
Yes! VET qualifications are an excellent option for anyone interested in further education and is arguably preferred to a university degree in some industries, particularly service sectors like hospitality or events. This is because a recent graduate of a VET programme will already have more industry experience than a university graduate and will require less adjustment to the workplace. You can read more about how a VET qualification compares to a university degree in our article "Does a vocational qualification give you better career prospects than a university degree?".
In addition to this, VET opens a pathway into postgraduate university study further down the line. Universities will recognise a VET diploma or advanced diploma, combined with four or five years of industry experience, as prerequisite to a master's degree. Because your work experience begins the moment your VET study starts, you'll be able to have as much as 18 months experience under your belt before graduating.
This means you could graduate from your VET qualification by age 19 or 20, stay working, earning and progressing your career for a few years, and then apply directly to postgraduate study at 23 or 24.
VET at Kenvale College
Kenvale College is a not-for-profit RTO in Sydney, providing nationally recognised VET qualifications in the hospitality, events and cookery sectors. Students undertake paid work placements with our industry partners throughout the city and carry out their studies with our faculty of industry experts. Your education at Kenvale will be carefully guided with monthly mentorship meetings and small, intimate classes.
Our lecturers are not only experts within their industry, but current players – remaining involved in their sectors and bringing the most up-to-date perspectives and knowledge to your education.
Your career can start long before you have a degree in your hands. Start today by applying for a VET qualification at Kenvale College, or reach out to a course advisor for more information.