Vocational Education and Training (VET) is all the buzz in the media of late. For too long people have labelled VET study as an option “if you did not get into university” or going to TAFE was for those who “failed”. This is far from the truth. It is the performance in the course, not the institution, that is important for success. There are alternatives to a university pathway and sometimes hands-on practical learning may be more appropriate for some students.
The world of work is rapidly changing and tertiary education and training systems may well be the connection to the uncertainty surrounding the future workforce. It may be worthwhile to reconsider VET institutions as a first option. Tertiary education and training systems are placed to prepare students in portable skills such as digital literacy, flexibility, problem solving, collaboration, entrepreneurship, creativity and interpersonal interaction. These are all key skills employers are looking for in young people. Yes, obtaining a great ATAR can be a good start, but it’s just one part of the puzzle. Good marks state to prospective employers that the person can study, but employers are also looking at the evidence of skills that students have. Attributes, like flexibility, teamwork and determination can mean a lot more to a future employer than an ATAR.
With over a third of 15 year olds not capable in the transferrable skills they need for the future of work, engaging young people early in developing the right skills to navigate the future of work is necessary now. By 2030 automation across all employment industries will be fundamental. Young people need to be prepared in steering their own career portfolio. The one occupation over a life span does not exist today and we are looking at 15 year olds having 17 different jobs across five industries.
Young people must be supported in their capabilities, goals and passions by providing a variety of pathways to the real world of work, empowering them to cultivate their talents and abilities to be lifelong learners. Getting involved within and outside of the school environment is a must. Starting early is also the key as life becomes busy. A great way to build a portfolio is to volunteer and give back to the community. Another option to maximise the chance of success is to start working as soon as possible, even while in high school. Travel can also be a great way to learn more about oneself and it gives a fresh viewpoint on life, while meeting new people and learning about flexibility and change.
VET and TAFE courses are misjudged in what they can do for employment. Experiencing the real world, gaining support from many avenues and having the confidence to build a portfolio of skills will only help our school leavers to transition confidently into their future. With the talk being that TAFE gives students the skills needed for future employment, allowing creativity as well as real skill learning, our students do have options and with the nature of work changing, the nature of learning also needs to change.
How I got the job – Web Developer
During a high school work placement at a graphic design firm, Jarrad’s supervisor was so impressed with his design skills that he offered him an apprenticeship. He’s never looked back and now runs a successful design firm in Sydney and is teaching web design at TAFE.
Ms Katrina Smith