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Preparing for TAFE - a practical guide for school leavers

Most TAFE NSW campuses have careers counsellors and all you need to do is phone to make an appointment

If you're about to officially become a school leaver you're probably already thinking about what to do next year. Some time off? Travel? Or maybe further study?

Further study is usually the surest way to steady employment. And since TAFE graduates consistently perform well in the job market, many school leavers are regarding TAFE as a more appealing and practical choice than university. In fact, figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) show that in recent years, close to 80% of vocational education (i.e. TAFE) graduates were employed within the first six months of completing their training.

So you've decided that TAFE is for you. But what happens next?

We know it can all seem a bit confusing and even intimidating. So here are a couple of suggestions on how to decide what course to study and then get yourself enrolled for 2017.

How do I choose a course?

This is a pretty important one, but also one that has no simple answer. There are many different reasons why people choose the courses they choose.

Some people choose courses that are most likely to get them a job. If this sounds like you, a great start would be the NSW Government's Skills shortages list. This is a comprehensive round-up of the career areas where the demand outstrips the supply. Occupations as diverse as Aged care nurse, Locksmith and Civil engineer are currently on this list.

Other people choose to follow their passion and choose a course relating to something they're naturally interested in. If you're not sure what your passion is, take our passion quiz, which can point you in the right direction.

Where can I go for career advice?

If you're still uncertain and feeling a bit confused about which option is best for you, we recommend having a chat with a TAFE NSW careers counsellor. These people are highly skilled professionals who are totally across all the possible study options and the job market itself. Most TAFE NSW campuses have careers counsellors and all you need to do is phone to make an appointment. This service is free.

What entry requirements do I need?

Any entry requirements for the course you've selected will be listed in the course brochure on the TAFE NSW website. If there are no entry requirements, this will also be clearly stated.

Many TAFE NSW courses also have recognition of prior learning (RPL) which is acknowledgement of previous study or qualifications that you've gained somewhere else. This can mean that you're given some credit towards the course you're now thinking of enrolling for.

What's the difference between qualifications?

This is a question we get asked all the time. There are so many different qualifications available, from Certificate I, II, III, IV, through Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas and Degrees. It's understandable that people can be confused as to what the differences are between them. Generally speaking, the higher the qualification level, the more time and study is involved. Click here for a more detailed breakdown of the different qualifications available through TAFE NSW.

How do I enrol?

Once you've selected the course that seems right for you and checked on eligibility requirements, the actual enrolment process is fairly straightforward. The TAFE NSW website will guide you through this process, which can vary between different courses.