Promoting VET pathways that suit the needs of learners

More than one-third of jobs in 2026 will require skills aligned to VET qualifications.

Understanding the needs of learners

Current estimates of jobs requiring preparation through vocational education do not include the full extent of the new jobs for the energy transformation targets.

Manufacturing and construction jobs for renewable energy generation and distribution to meet the 95% renewable energy target in 2035 will increase demand significantly. Vocational education and training (VET) enrolments have stabilised, but are still significantly lower than 10 years ago. Increasing participation in full VET qualifications, for renewables plus other growing industries, is the priority for Victoria.

Building understanding in the community of career trajectories from vocational education is challenging. One survey of young Australians found that 77% had a well-rounded understanding of university but only 53% had an understanding of TAFE and 31% of VET (Walker (2019) The TAFE report: changing young people’s perceptions of TAFE and vocational education(opens in a new window)).

A recent learner survey found that 63% of students aspire to jobs requiring a university degree, while only 27% aspire to jobs which require a certificate (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2019) Vocational education and training: research report(opens in a new window), February). This shows there is more work needed to change attitudes to vocational education.

Achieving equal standing between higher education and vocational education in the minds of Australians has been a long-term goal for skills ministers, and is also featuring in discussions of the Australian Universities Accord.

‘These systems (VET and higher education) both provide essential skills and knowledge in their own right and the review is exploring whether these systems should be equally valued in funding, regulatory and policy settings’

(Department of Education (Australian Government) (2023), Australian Universities Accord Interim Report(opens in a new window), p. 121, July).

Prospective students should be able to choose an education and training pathway suited to their learning preferences that opens options for success as they see it. The value of vocational education qualification needs to be enhanced in terms of securing good jobs and satisfying work which can be a springboard to more learning and better jobs.

This highlights the importance of better understanding the needs and aspirations of learners as a key strategy for assessing the value they see in VET qualifications.

The potential changes to the VET qualification system are underway through skills ministers. This provides the opening to enhance qualifications
to resonate with student aspirations for learning that leads to broader education and employment outcomes. This would also support greater
movement of skilled persons within businesses and across the economy and build the resilience of the workforce to restructuring of work.

Student participation rate

Participation in higher-education has remained relatively stable over the last ten years. Participation in VET decreased from 13% to 6% between 2012 and 2020, but increased to 7% in 2021.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Census, various; ABS, Education and work(opens in a new window), May 2022; NCVER, Historical time series of government-funded vocational education and training in Australia(opens in a new window), 2012 to 2021.

Career aspirations, choice and participation in post-secondary education

Many factors influence the career aspirations of learners and the qualifications they choose, including:

  • existing level of education and skills
  • available supports
  • time, cost and accessibility of education and training
  • learners' personal attributes, interests and desired learning and employment outcomes
  • influencers (for example, parents, peers, media and career counsellors)
  • time, cost and accessibility of education and training
  • understanding views of and access to learning and employment pathways.

Recommendations

Through enhanced engagement with learners:

  • provide a stronger voice into education and training reforms
  • understand their needs and aspirations and identify opportunities to improve post-secondary education participation, delivery and completion.

Work with the Department of Education to enhance connections of school-aged learners with employers and industry and channel advice on industry trends to inform vocational learning priorities in the VCE including the VCE Vocational Major and Victorian Pathways Certificate.

Collaborate with the National Centre for Vocational Education Research to better understand the vocational education journey of different learner cohorts as well as their learning outcomes.

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