In Australia, there is a national trade skills shortage and the ACT is not immune. The latest ACT Trade skills ‘Individual Occupation’ Report suggests there is an ongoing shortage of experienced workers and new workers entering the workforce. It is increasingly difficult to source employees.

In the ACT, only one in 10 carpentry positions are currently filled with a suitable candidate. This increases to one in three for plumbing and electrical and one in two for the mechanical based trades. What does this mean? For our Marist students, it can provide positive encouragement for students who undertake training and further education in a Vocational Education and Training subject (VET) or an Australian School Based Apprenticeship (ASBA).

A recent report from the Grattan Institute, ‘Risks and rewards: when is vocational education a good alternative to higher education?’, found people “with a lower ATAR have options among Vocational Educational and Training (VET) courses that can lead them to securing a job faster, and often higher earnings, than if they do a university degree”.

A VET course is a nationally recognised qualification that is generally undertaken by a student completing an accredited package with the Board of Secondary Studies. It contains both theory and practical competency-based assessment. Currently, the College offers six different qualifications, including a Certificate I and II in Construction, Furniture, Hospitality and Kitchen Operations. 

In these courses, students undertake theory at the College and on-the-job training through an external employer. Additionally, students can enrol in an ASBA in many occupations whilst still at school, combining study through CIT or any approved Registered Training Organisation and practical work-based training with an employer. Students engaged in an ASBA can be granted units towards their Senior Secondary Certificate. Many students who choose this pathway complete their Certificates in their chosen field and have an excellent opportunity to gain full-time work with an employer. Currently, the College has over 100 students undertaking a VET course.

Does VET rule out university? 

This was once an opinion held by many, however, VET may also be a great way to start your education journey if you are thinking about continuing on to a university degree. Universities are increasingly looking at Certificates gained whilst studying ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies courses and are now using them to gain entry into university and also gain credit towards some courses offered.