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Celebrating alternative pathways: The A-Z of VET

Uni not for you? Bagging a three-year bachelor’s degree isn’t the only way to kickstart a career in tech! There are loads of alternative pathways that equip grads with the immediate skills needed to land a job. Here, we look at an alphabet of options.

Want to know more? Head to the Careers with STEM VET hub! You can also check out our special edition e-magazine, Careers with STEM: Apprenticeships & Traineeships.

A is for Apprenticeships

Getting loads of hands-on practical experience is a huge advantage to doing a VET course! Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with classroom study and are a proven pathway to some pretty cool, and high-paying careers. Plus, if you’re in NSW – they’re free.

B is for Building block

Not ready to commit to a uni degree? Whatever your career plans, VET qualifications can be a valuable building block in getting you where you want to go. Entry-level courses range from six months to three years, with some TAFEs offering unique pathways programs with local universities.

RELATED: Meet a technical architect

C is for Certificate

Forget BAs and Hons! VET is all about certificate courses designed to equip school leavers with job-ready skills. From I to IV, each qualification varies depending on the level of knowledge needed for specific employment ops.

D is for Diploma

Diplomas – or certificate IV – are the highest level of VET, and are a great way to hone your problem-solving, decision-making and technical skills.

VET may be completed through apprenticeships and traineeships, where qualifications are completed while working in a paid workplace environment, or via off-the-job institutions such as TAFE. Image: Shutterstock

E is for Engineering

Software! Machine learning! Telecommunications! Engineering is the most popular of all VET courses, with more than two thirds of the VET qualified STEM workforce having studied either a diploma or certificate in engineering.

F is for Future-focused

From short courses that cover the basics to advanced diplomas, VET pathways prep students for the next-generation of STEM careers – some of which might not even exist yet.

RELATED: Government to overhaul VET sector

G is for Growth

More demand means more career opportunities available. For example, since the COVID-19 pandemic started, TAFE SA has seen a 25% rise in applications for health-related courses!

H is for Hired

Who said VET was the second choice to uni? I A massive 77% of VET study graduates already have work sorted when they graduate.

I is for Information and communications technology

Computer science your thing? If you’re tech savvy with strong analytical skills and a love of problem-solving, studying IT is a no-brainer. TAFE course options include IT management, IT security, database design and general IT support.

J is for Jobs

Question: which tech jobs can you land with a VET background? Answer: pretty much all of them! Among those with the largest employment growth are ICT project managers, program developers, software engineers, ICT customer support officers and web developers.

K is for Kicking Goals

Psst! is packed with VET grads. Hit up our Career Paths tab for examples of real-life tech pros who never went to uni.

L is for Local

Looking for your local? In Australia all states have TAFEs! Charles Darwin University provides most VET courses in the NT and in the ACT, the Canberra Institute of Technology is your go-to. Based in NZ? Look into Polytechnics.

M is for Mentor

Looking for inspo? Talking to someone who’s done the VET thing could help kickstart your own confidence to pursue a similar pathway. Contact your local TAFE for networking opportunities and info sessions.

N is for Network Security

Most TAFE courses are designed to skill you up for jobs that are in demand. With the number of additional cyber security specialists needed in Australia expected to exceed 11,000 by 2030, network security is one of them. A Diploma of Network Security will give you the skills to land a job without going to uni.

O is for Open Days

Just like universities, most TAFEs host open days, where you can check out different courses and campuses. Jump on their mailing lists and socials so you don’t miss key dates!

P is for Pathways Program

Know where you’re headed but didn’t get the marks? Some unis (like RMIT) offer packaged pathway programs that allow you to transfer into a bachelor’s degree, when you complete the required VET units.

If you’re thinking about going down the VET route, you can kickstart your pathway before you finish high school. Image: Shutterstock

Q is for Questions

Got some? Our e-magazines will hopefully give you some answers.

R is for Remote Study

With 2020 being the year it has, VET institutions have been able to employ seamless remote-learning capabilities – probably because most of them offer distance education courses already! TAFE NSW boasts a cool 200 plus available to study.

S is for Stats

Do you know that only 32% of the STEM qualified workforce went to university? Yep, the rest are VET trained.

U is for Upskill

Keeping your skills fresh and your knowledge up-to-date – particularly in tech fields – is a great way to ensure your long-term employability! Short TAFE courses are a great option if you’re looking to develop a specialised skill – think User Experience (UX) design or digital marketing – and can be done while working full-time, too.

V is for VR Training

With VET being super-practical, you’ll get skilled up in all the relevant stuff that’s actually going to land you a job. Immersive technologies backbone most of the creative IT and tech certificates – where specialising in Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) could lead to a career as a game developer, UX or user interface (UI) designer.

W is for Work Placement

Getting a job – and legit working in it – is a huge part of VET coursework. Depending on what suits you, your study situation and your temporary employer, placements can vary from a week, to one day a week for a few months. You don’t get paid, but there’s huge potential for them to lead to future job opportunities.

X is for X

If you’re stumped on what to study, the ‘STEM + X’ formula will help narrow down your options. Take the STEM area you’re most into, combine it with your passion and search your local TAFE for compatible courses. Like: tech + beauty = beauty app development.

Y is for You

Deciding where to study is such a personal thing, so make sure you look into loads of options and never assume that uni is the only path.

Z is for Zero Fees

The best thing to come out of COVID-19? TAFE NSW are removing fees from 21 of their online short courses! The selection covers areas including accounting, digital marketing and medical administration.

This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Tech 2020.

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Get more Careers with STEM A-Z guides!

The A-Z of health careers
The A-Z of medical careers
The A-Z of getting a job
The A-Z of open day
The A-Z of STEM degrees
The A-Z of uni electives
The A-Z of space careers
The A-Z of VET

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