Getting the Mix Right
TDA recognises the value of universities, the education they provide, and the contribution they make to Australian society, through research and the dissemination of knowledge. We argue, however, that
our vocational education and training (VET) sector, and our publicly-owned TAFE institutes and TAFE divisions of dual sector universities in particular, are grossly undervalued. Governments, especially at the federal level, have cut funding in real terms to TAFEs, and made it harder for TAFE to differentiate itself as the trusted, quality provider. Meanwhile, the scandals that have rocked the VET sector since the opening up of the VET FEE-HELP loan scheme in 2014 have meant that public trust in Australia’s VET sector is low. Parents remain reluctant to send their children to a TAFE, despite career prospects that are on par or better than those awaiting many university graduates.
In Germany, half of all school leavers end up in the dual VET (apprenticeship) system in public VET colleges. This number increases if the number of students who undertake ‘dual study’ programmes at the bachelor level in universities of applied science are included. In Ontario,
Canada – which boasts a network of Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology similar to Victoria’s – 58 per cent of new entrants into the province’s postsecondary education system enrolled in a college.
These figures speak to the tremendous potential of Australia’s TAFE system.
- Young people, their parents and career advisors need better information to make decisions about education and training.
- The choice between higher education and VET shouldn’t be seen as an ‘either/or’ option; instead tertiary education should be seen as a continuum with permeable pathways between the two.
- Education and training should place greater emphasis on the technical and employability skills that learners will need throughout their careers.
- Under a professional development framework, career advisors must be adequately trained to provide advice that meets the needs of learners, employers, and