August 15th, 2016

From August 29th – September 4th National Skills Week will explore how Vocational Education fills jobs, and ensures that career opportunities are handed down to Australian students. New Industry and Government education reports raise the issue of skills shortages in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math due to a low number of trained professionals available in fields who hold appropriate technical and practical experience. Both reports also pinpoint Vocational Training graduates as highly sought after across a number of STEM sectors.

According to the 2016 report Grattan Institute’s Mapping Australian Higher Education released this month, University graduates are not meeting the skill requirements set out by Industry while Vocational Education graduates are highly sought after because of the world-class training they obtained through either a TAFE or private training provider. During a time when “53 percent” of employers are expressing “dissatisfaction” with the quality of IT graduates entering the market, the Vocational Education system is building graduates who are fit to meet Industry demands and employer expectations.

A new Government report, Australia’s STEM Workforce released in March, states that 68 percent of the total STEM workforce is composed of VET qualified graduates, a number that speaks volumes when compared to only 32 percent of university qualified graduates. So you ask, where does this trend really stem from?

The Grattan report states that employers are too frequently experiencing graduates who lack training in relationship management, customer service, contract negotiation, and hold shortcomings in interpersonal and communication skills. Students from a VET background are abundant in these skills- sets, reflective of VET’s flexible approach to teaching and its commitment to providing students with necessary work skills, and relevant life skills that will allow them to execute the day-to-day demands of their job. National Skills Week launches nationwide on August 24th to help people better understand how VET secures jobs.

“National Skills Week celebrates what sets Vocational Education apart from other training providers, which is the care the VET system takes in shaping students into qualified professionals that have a strong-hold on the practical and technical aspects of their work,” General Manager at SkillsOne Kirstin Casey said.

“It’s not enough to hold a degree and have knowledge. It’s about how you apply these to daily tasks, make decisions, build relationships and problem solve in the workplace.”

Australian Training Award’s 2014 Australian Apprentice of the Year and Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador Melinda Lethbridge took up a Certificate III in Engineering to enhance her practical hands- on skills.

“I started Year 12 aiming for a scholarship in mechatronics and took up a very academic study load, but I realised I needed a balance of practical work as well as theoretical challenges,” Melinda said.

“I remembered my work experience at a manufacturer and how that career suited my needs … with cooperation from my school and my employer, I completed my Year 12 certificate while working part time in the Industry, and then started my Australian Apprenticeship the day after my final exam.”

Melinda’s Industry training took her all the way to the 2014 WorldSkills Australia National Competition, after she won the gold medal in turning at the Melbourne regional competition in 2013. She says there are many benefits when studying with VET, such as opening up career opportunities that would otherwise not be attainable.

“Undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship was a really positive experience,” Melinda said.

“The self-paced learning built into the training allowed me to move quickly through content that came easily to me, and take the time to fully understand concepts that I struggled with … An Australian Apprenticeship is an awesome opportunity to learn and earn.

For further information on Melinda’s story or that of other Australian Training Awards Alumni and Australian Apprenticeships Ambassadors visit and

Join us during National Skills Week and celebrate how VET creates skilled professionals in STEM, furthering Australia’s innovative stride in a global competitive market. Organise an event, or take part in the many events that can be found on the National Skills Week website:

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