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The numbers don't lie. The fulltime employment rate for university graduates in Australia is now less than 70%. This is the lowest it's been in 30 years.
Meanwhile, TAFE graduates are 50% more likely than their university counterparts to be in paid employment within three months of graduation. Yet university still somehow continues to be seen as the best pathway to a career. What's going on here?
This idea of a university qualification being a golden ticket to a career is not only outdated but it flies in the face of the actual demand and supply of careers. In other words, many universities are producing graduates with qualifications that aren't particularly in demand in the job market. TAFE, on the other hand, is good at matching its graduates with workforce needs – meeting the demand with the supply.
There are several reasons for this. Principally the NSW Skills Shortage list is firmly on TAFE's radar. This means it gives priority to the training for those career areas involving skills currently in high demand but in low supply.
TAFE's strong industry links are also part of the picture. Many TAFE teachers are established experts in their respective fields. This not only means that what they're teaching is consistent with current industry standards and practices, but strong industry connections also mean increased opportunities for students to secure jobs through these contacts.
It's okay if you aren't sure what direction you want your career to take. Whether it's a job that requires skills learnt at TAFE or at uni, you should consider the same guiding principles before you make any solid career commitment.
*Statistics sources from ABC, 4 Corners and Sydney Morning Herald