Too often, lack of information and awareness sees VET options undervalued or overlooked

Submissions have started rolling in to the Inquiry into school to work transition being conducted by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training. The submissions, available online, make interesting reading.

The need for balanced careers advice

TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) identifies several areas for focused attention in assisting school leavers to manage their transition to work through postsecondary education. Of particular concern to TDA is that secondary students receive unbalanced advice about their tertiary options, with students often inappropriately steered towards university qualifications. This happens, TDA contends, because:

  • Career advisors have limited knowledge of and experience with VET and TAFE
  • Decision-makers and influencers don’t have the data that would allow them to make accurate comparisons between pathways; and/or
  • It is assumed that a university degree will lead to good employment outcomes.

On the last point, TDA refers to a recent report from the Skilling Australians Foundation (SFA) which shows VET graduate outcomes ‘are comparable if not better than for graduates of university programmes.’

Careers advice – changing the model and backing advice with data

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) is calling for careers advice to be offered by providers external to schools. ACCI reasons that:

‘The quality and breadth of career advice provided in school is lacking and students lack quality intelligence concerning the pathways that are likely to result in a positive job outcome. The Chamber movement has called for some years for an external, industry-led model for career advice. This will ensure students have access to high quality, comprehensive information about their options for work, training or further study after school.’

Like TDA, ACCI bemoans the paucity of data for determining study options. Its submission encourages the Australian Government to develop ‘a site for VET that provides information about employment outcomes, salary expectations and provider satisfaction.’

That’s a matter on which the Business Council of Australia (BCA) concurs:

‘The Business Council has repeatedly argued that insufficient market information is one of the biggest weaknesses of the national vocational education and training (VET) system… The information currently available does not provide the detail or breadth of information required.

Relevant, credible, current data is critical

The relevance of credible, current data in a fast changing employment landscape is obviously critical for effectively planning school to work transitions.

As Refraction Media – points out in its submission:

‘In the last five years there’s been a 3840% growth in Big Data Architect as a career. This job didn’t exist 5 years ago. There was no such thing as ‘Social Media Manager, and now it’s one of the top ten jobs advertised on LinkedIn.’