When it comes to pursuing tertiary education, there are two main paths that students can take: vocational education and higher education.
Both types of education have their own unique benefits and drawbacks, and it ultimately comes down to individual goals, preferences, and career aspirations. In this article, we will explore the differences between vocational and higher education and help you determine which path might be the best fit for you.
Vocational education, also known as career or technical education, focuses on providing students with hands-on training and practical skills that can be applied directly to a specific career or industry. Vocational education programs are typically offered by community colleges, vocational schools, and trade schools and can range in duration from several weeks to a few years.
Short courses can take a few days or weeks to complete. While larger certificates take years.
One of the primary benefits of vocational education is that it provides students with job-specific skills that are directly applicable to their chosen career path. This means that students can hit the ground running once they enter the workforce with a completed certificate, as they already possess the necessary skills and knowledge.
One of the young people’s greatest gripes with finding work across job sites online is employers’ need for experience. Vocational Education helps foster environments where apprentices and trainees can learn safely and be supervised on the job, to make sure that they can get the experience and proven competency they need to become employed.
Vocational education programs are typically shorter than traditional higher education programs, which means that students can enter the workforce sooner and start earning a salary.
Vocational education programs are generally less expensive than traditional higher education programs, which can be particularly beneficial for students who are on a tight budget. In fact, most apprenticeship and traineeship program fees (which are undertaken underneath an employer) are fully paid for by the employer. So they won’t add on massively to your debts later as a HECS or HELP loan would.
More people report finding work compared to higher education, within the first year of completion.
Higher education refers to formal academic education pursued through an institution like a university or college. Higher education programs are more theoretical in nature and provide students with a broad range of knowledge and skills within an area of interest that can be applied to a variety of career paths.
The most widely recognised higher education qualification is a bachelor’s degree, which often takes 3-4 years to complete. However, they can take 6 years to complete if you choose to study part-time.
After completing an Undergraduate degree like a Bachelor’s, some students also have the opportunity to commit to further study with a Graduate degree to further specialise.
While TAFE and other VET providers emphasise practical vocational skills, higher education courses tend to focus on conceptual knowledge and critical thinking that individuals need to work as professionals.
The broad range of subjects offered at universities and colleges have different requirements and prepare students in different ways depending on both the subject and individual institution, so we can’t give you just one example of what a day in the life of a higher ed student would look like.
Many students may get some work experience or get to apply their knowledge, especially in their final years, but this work tends to be remembering information, critically or creatively applying learned principles, and creating reports of evaluation for better results in the future. However, higher education tends to be theoretical for the most part and taught from a classroom.
Undergraduate degrees take a focus through a major, which allows students to get good coverage of their chosen discipline as well as others that closely relate to it. Most degrees in these programs also allow students to select electives to further broaden their knowledge or minor in another closely related discipline.
Universities have a reputation for helping students achieve high outcomes in their future work opportunities and salaries.
Deciding on a vocational or higher education route is a very personal decision, that will be different and unique depending on the individual. Even two people with the same career goals may need to consider what steps would suit them best, based on the way they learn, their financial situation and what knowledge they can get out of their training to make themselves attractive and more irreplaceable as individuals with unique strengths on the talent market.
By answering these questions, you may get better at determining which path might be the best fit for you.
Remember, you also don’t need to stick with one. Many students, especially in IT, Engineering and Business, decide to study both education models to get a more well-rounded education that includes both practical and theoretical knowledge.
In conclusion, both vocational and higher education have their unique benefits and drawbacks, and it ultimately comes down to individual goals, preferences, and career aspirations. If you are looking for job-specific skills and a shorter time to completion at a lower cost, vocational education might be the best fit for you. If you are interested in a broad range of knowledge and more career opportunities, as well as personal growth, higher education might be the better choice.
Ultimately, the decision to pursue vocational or higher education should be based on careful consideration of your personal and professional goals, as well as your financial situation. Regardless of the path you choose, it’s important to remember that education is an investment in your future, and the skills and knowledge you gain in either route will serve you well throughout your career.