10 reasons why an apprenticeship is better than a degree
- August 21, 2017
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Education
By Mark Field
Schools, universities and society in general are all guilty of pushing the bright, talented and gifted students into Tertiary Education (TE). The thought of a Vocational Education and Training (VET) or apprenticeship pathway for these students is generally seen as waste of their talents and potential. This might be the case for many of these students but definitely not for all.
Academic ability shouldn’t be the primary motivator for deciding a study and career path. Interest, opportunity and a desire to want to learn more about a particular field are far more important in my book. It’s about what they want to do and what will make them happy. It shouldn’t make any difference how smart a student is when it comes to considering either a VET or TE pathway.
It troubles me that VET continues to be treated like the ‘poor cousin’ and is often overlooked in favour of TE. TE shouldn’t have exclusive rights to the best performing and most talented high school/college students. A trade-based vocation can provide just as much job satisfaction, success, earning potential and career fulfilment as any job that requires a university education. Just ask Canberra’s Nick Georgalis the founder and sole owner of GEOCON a major builder of stylish inner-city apartments and owner of the Abode hotels. Nick completed a Diploma of Construction Management and now is on BRW’s young rich list with an estimated wealth of $72m.
More needs to be done by Governments to remove the prejudices that exist and treat both pathways with equal legitimacy.
OK, perhaps I am a little biased due to my company operating solely in VET. But even so, it is my overwhelming belief that considerable opportunity exists in trade-based apprenticeship vocations for not only the low-average students but also the talented and bright students to establish very successful and rewarding careers.
Let me start the process by providing some ‘food for thought’ to those a little too eager to promote TE over a VET apprenticeship pathway.
Here’s my top 10 reasons why an apprenticeship is better than a degree:
- Earn and learn – Sure it might not be a lot but effectively apprentices are getting paid to learn their chosen profession;
- No HECS/HELP debt. The Government and the employer pay for 100% of training and education cost. Expect to pay on average about $30,000 for a university degree. VET can also be a more appropriate pathway to TE especially if you want to ‘try out’ an industry or field of study before committing to an expensive degree;
- Receive combined employment and training immediately after school or even when still at school. Only 65% of university graduates aged 25 or less will find full-time jobs straight after graduation;
- Learn and acquire skills and knowledge in the ‘real world’ and not in a classroom undertaking ‘role plays’ and other simulated learning activities. The ability to learn a new skill and immediately practice it in the workplace is an excellent way to achieve competence quickly;
- Develop employability and life skills including independence far sooner than students attending university. Apprentices are forced to grow up quicker. They will accept and adapt to the realities of life and adult responsibilities well before university students;
- Earn just as much or even more in a trade profession. The gap between wages for university qualified and VET qualified students is closing rapidly with many trade-based vocations exceeding university wages straight after graduation;
- Apprentices receive one-to-one job instruction and learning that is tailored to meet their specific needs. All the focus is on the apprentice and their learning and education journey. VET also suits all learning styles e.g visual, auditory or kinesthetic;
- Jobs in the trades are in high demand with generally short labour supply. Conversely, the job market is flooded with university graduates at least 100,000 each year competing for limited white-collar positions;
- Trade-based skills are mobile and transferable. Moving to another job is easier because employers generally value employment experience highly; and
- Becoming your own boss is more attainable and can happen sooner.
I’ll finish with a quote from the now Federal Minister for Education – Simon Birmingham
Without a strong, consistent supply of apprentices, Australia’s economic performance would be placed at risk.
Mark Field is the Managing Director of Access Recognised Training an Australian based Registered Training Organisation specialising in hospitality/culinary and business management qualifications.
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