Vocational Education and Training

The Vocational Education and Training (VET) system develops workplace-specific skills and knowledge by delivering nationally recognised training (primarily at the certificate I through to advanced diploma level). The sector provides qualifications and pathways to employment across an array of occupations (including for jobs such as Technicians and Trades Workers, Community and Personal Service Workers and Clerical and Administrative Workers) and industries (large proportions of workers in the Construction, Other Services and Mining industries have VET qualifications).

There are more than 4,000 VET registered training organisations (RTOs), including publicly owned TAFE institutes and universities, private providers (including enterprise and industry providers), community organisations and schools.

In 2016, there were around 4.2 million VET student enrolments.

Who can study through the VET system?

VET courses are available to people of any age and gender and can be undertaken part-time, full-time, flexibly or online, regardless of where you live.

Young people make up a large proportion of VET students.

  • 32% are aged under 25 years.
  • 42% are aged 25 to 44 years.
  • 24% are age 45 years or older.

What levels of qualification does VET offer?

The largest numbers of VET students undertake training at the certificate III level.

VET program enrolments, by qualification level, 2016 (%)*

This bar chart shows the proportion of VET enrolments by each qualification level.  Diploma or higher 17%. Certificate IV 14%. Certificate III 26%. Certificate II 16%. Certificate I 5%.

*Percentages calculated using total which includes Non-AQF level Qualification, but chart excludes these qualifications

What subject areas does VET offer?

VET offers study options across all fields of education, but those with the largest numbers of students are Management and Commerce, Society and Culture, and Engineering and Related Technologies. The Australian Government’s myskills.gov.au and training.gov.au websites are useful sources of information about VET.

VET program enrolments, by selected fields of education and age, 2016 (‘000)

This bar chart shows VET program enrolments in 2015 by selected fields of education. Management and Commerce 723,500. Society and Culture 484,600. Engineering and Related Technologies 472,200. Health 296,200. Food, Hospitality and Personal Services 281,300. Architecture and Building 257,200. Education 206,400. Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies 89,900. Information Technology 85,800. Creative Arts 85,400. Natural and Physical Sciences 14,400.

How does VET help in the labour market?

Employment outcomes for VET graduates are strong. In 2017, 77.7% of VET graduates were employed (full-time or part-time) six months after completing their training. More information about the job related benefits of VET are available in the NCVER VET Student Outcomes publication.

Graduate employment outcomes vary, though, depending on the field of study. In 2017, the strongest employment outcomes were for graduates in Architecture and Building (88.4% were employed six months after graduation) and Education (87.0%). Employment outcomes were softer for Information Technology (51.4%) and Creative Arts graduates (59.5%).

VET graduates employed (full-time or part-time) 6 months after graduation, by field of education, 2017 (%)

This bar chart shows the proportion of VET graduates employed after graduation by field of education. Architecture and Building 88.4%. Education 87.0%. Engineering and Related Technologies 84.6%. Health 82.3%. Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies 82.1%. Management and Commerce 79.2%. Society and Culture 75.9%. Food, Hospitality and Personal Services 74.8%. Natural and Physical Sciences 70.1%. Creative Arts 59.5%. Information Technology 51.4%.

Do VET graduates have high earnings?

Workers who hold a VET qualification at the certificate III or higher level earn more than those who have not studied after leaving school.

In 2017, the median annual income for VET graduates working full-time six months after completing their training was $55,000. The highest salaries were for those who studied

  • Architecture and Building ($62,500)
  • Education ($62,400)
  • Engineering and Related Technologies ($59,900)
  • Management and Commerce ($59,500).

Higher level VET qualifications provide better outcomes

Generally, higher level qualifications lead to stronger employment outcomes and higher incomes.

Although employment outcomes are relatively low for those with a certificate I, this level of qualification can be a pathway to further study and attainment of higher qualifications.

VET employment outcomes 6 months after graduation, 2017*

VET employment outcomes 6 months after graduation, 2017*
  Employed (%) Median annual income
Diploma or higher 79.5 $60,000
Certificate IV 85.1 $64,900
Certificate III 76.8 $50,000
Certificate II 65.9 $49,900
Certificate I 48.2 $46,600

*Employment figures are for graduates employed full-time or part-time. Income figures are for those employed full-time.

Sources: NCVER, Total VET Students and Courses; NCVER, VET Student Outcomes; ABS, Characteristics of Employment

For more information see ncver.edu.au and myskills.gov.au