Let’s do an experiment. When I say Vocational Education and Training (VET) - what’s the first image that pops into your mind?
I may be jumping to conclusions but let me assure you, I warrant this with countless experiment results. Over and over again, a visual conjuring of tools, hi-vis vests, utes and heavy machinery dominates this test.
Interestingly, most people typically don’t consider other areas such as nursing or IT to be as synonymous with VET as trades. One reason for this is likely a matter of statistics. By and large, “trade” qualifications have the highest enrolments of students in VET, but as a matter of representing the vast occupations and industries for which VET prepares students, it needs to be said, VET isn’t just for trades.
The Commonwealth Department of Employment’s occupational projections forecast that an additional 990,000 jobs are expected to be created by 2020 in Australia. Importantly, almost half of those jobs – 437,000 – will require Certificate, Diploma and Advanced Diploma level qualifications. The largest growth area will be in Health Care and Social Assistance, with an expected employment increase of 250,300 by 2023.
Avran Ahmad is the Registered Training Organisation (RTO) Manager at the Australasian Institute Health and Education (AIHE), a training organisation based out of My Home Living Care, an aged care service. The CEO, Marie Vano, established this in response to a need for specialised skill and experience specific to her business.
“It’s so hard to find people who know what they’re doing. On the job training is so important. We’re dealing with life and that’s serious. So they (workers) need to be ready. I established an RTO to make sure that employees are competent and ready.”
Avran explained that there are many pathways to health care through VET.
“Coupled with the nature of VET which has its firm basis on practical elements, students are exposed to workplace elements through simulations, role play based experience, work placements as well as assessments. This approach, I think, really prepares them for the real world.”
“One pathway in particularly hot demand at the moment is the Diploma of Nursing. Students who have a passion for helping people and the community, who want to become a registered nurse, have a clear gateway through VET. Students can complete a Diploma of Nursing to become an Assistant in Nursing. By that point, they have work experience, on the job training and credits which can go towards their Bachelors of Nursing to become a Registered Nurse. It’s a very popular pathway, especially now that there’s a high demand for nurses with the sector’s gaping shortages, it means students are almost guaranteed work.”
“There’s also a very strong demand for mental health care workers. To get a basic role as a mental health support worker, a Certificate IV is required. From here, you can apply for basic roles, and then your industry experience will enable you to specialise. But the options are unlimited. Many of our students start with a basic Certificate III, and then find opportunities for promotions by upskilling with a Certificate IV or Diploma, or adding extra qualifications such as a Diploma in Community Services, which could lead to into community coordinator roles, or counsellor roles.”
So how long does it usually take for students to complete these qualifications and enter the workforce?
“It depends! Some places offer early completion. So, for us we advertise the Certificate III in Individual Support as a 6 month course but some students have completed it in 3 months. It’s up to them, how much time they put into completing the online modules, workplace hours and assessments, because we assess students based on competency. So they can be qualified and ready to start work sooner than later.”
There’s a vast array of options for students looking to get into health care, or transition within health care. Myskills.gov is the national directory of VET organisations and courses. Otherwise, Australian Apprenticeships Pathways is a great site to help you start thinking about your career.
If you want to hear it from VET graduates, take a peek at this story on Alex, who was 16 when she decided it was a great idea to enter the community services and health care profession earlier than most by balancing her Year 11 and 12 studies with on-the-job training in the aged care field. That gave her early entry into a Bachelor of Nursing, and now works as a Senior Emergency Nurse.
FYA has partnered with the Federal Department of Education and Training to highlight the opportunities in Vocational Education for young Australians navigating the world of work. The So I Heard series explores just some of the many options out there.