That is, without doubt, a question facing many high school graduates in Australia.
Traditionally, there is a very clear boundary between vocational education and higher education. However, as the society evolves, vocational education and higher education have been emerged, to some extent. For instance, many institutions offer diploma courses that can be used to exempt up to 3 semesters of courses at universities. And some universities now have a TAFE section that delivers vocational training.
Although the line between vocational education and higher education is becoming increasingly blurry, the distinction between them is still obvious. Simply speaking, vocational education focuses more on practical skills that you can use straight away and the training targets at some very specific job positions. On the contrary, higher education mainly puts emphasis on understanding the theories and students need to figure out a way to apply the theoretical knowledge to practice.
With vocational education, you get the skills you need to start a job. For instance, how to repair an automobile, how to clean different surfaces, etc. With higher education, you have the knowledge as to how things work in a professional field, like law, finance, economics, IT, etc. But you need to gain experiences and develop your own skills to become adept at work. The learning curve can be quite long. For instance, a finance student knows many financial theories and how the financial market functions. But when it comes to a specific client or share training of certain type of shares, theories only provide framework instead of detailed work instructions.
So how should you choose?
Pertaining to cost, pursuing a degree is obviously costlier but government loan (i.e. HECS) and university scholarship help reduce the financial pressure. Vocational education is relatively more affordable and the government also provides different funding depends on the qualification you aim to get.
When it comes to time/duration, the minimum duration to complete a university degree (bachelor degree) is two years whereas completing a vocational training and getting your qualification only takes as short as 4 – 6 months. Therefore, if you urgently need to get a job to generate some income, finishing a qualification with a vocational education provider can quickly get you in the workforce and start earning.
But keep in mind that whether you can find a job does not solely reply on your educational background, it depends on a mixture of factors. What we are trying to say here is doing vocational training equips you with the skills you need to start working in the relevant field.
All in all, the final decision depends on WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO DO. Some occupations require at least a bachelor’s degree for an entry-level job vacancy and in this case, you will need to complete a degree at university. Some occupations only require you to have certain number of skills to apply, i.e. programmer and if that is the case, you can choose either to complete a degree or complete the vocational training in the relevant field.
What is your opinion on this issue?