University Education Versus Vocational Training. Increasingly, the question is being asked; is going to university worth the time, money and effort?
For some people the answer is a resounding “Yes!”
That’s because they are fortunate enough to have a clear picture of what their professional future looks like. They’re also mature enough to handle the ‘academic’ learning style required to reach their goal of completing a university Bachelor Degree qualification (at least).
However, for other people, the future is not so clear.
Many people complete their secondary schooling and have no idea what they want to be when they ‘grow up’. It’s a question everyone is asked from the time they attend kindergarten, but the reality is most people still don’t know by the time they turn 18 and hit adulthood.
All too often, societal pressures rail road these young people into going to university and studying a degree that they have no idea if they’ll even use; costing them a small fortune along the way.
The facts are: university graduates are flooding the job market and there are simply not enough positions in related fields to go around. This has created an environment where competition is fierce, with many graduates relegating themselves to finding full-time or part-time work in completely unrelated fields! Or worse still…remaining unemployed after graduation.
So what’s the answer?
I’m glad you asked, because there is another choice. Admittedly, it was (once upon a time) the distant, less glamorous cousin of university education, but those days are becoming a distant memory now for both students and employers. Vocational training in all its forms is on the rise for many reasons and just might be the perfect answer to those who are not quite convinced that university study is their best option.
Whether it’s a matter of bad-timing, or they are unsure of their future long-term career, or perhaps their career goals are clear and simply better served by a vocational training pathway instead. In comparison to university education, which focuses heavily on hypothetical and theoretical learning, vocational training is concerned with providing tangible and practical, job-specific skills.
Courses often require low (or even zero) academic entry requirements and there are a wide range of industries to choose from including:
- Financial planning
- Information technology
- Aged care
- Health and fitness
Typically, vocational training courses take much less time to complete and many courses are available to study online, meaning you can complete them at your own pace, at times that suit you. If some time down the track you decide that you are ready to go to university, often your vocational qualifications will help you get accepted into your chosen course and provide class credits for recognition of prior learning so that you don’t have to re-learn subjects that you’ve already studied.
Many of the world’s most successful people either dropped out of university or didn’t go at all!
Internationally, these include: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson.
Closer to home, people like Rupert Murdoch, Frank Lowy, Kerry Packer and his son James all made their names without tertiary qualifications.
This isn’t to suggest people shouldn’t go to university. In fact, for many people it is precisely the education pathway they should choose. Some lucky people know exactly what they want to do with their lives from a young age and to fulfil those dreams they must get a university degree. A well taught graduate could potentially use the critical thinking skills they have developed during their higher education studies to forge a successful career in a field not even directly related to their Bachelor Degree qualifications! After all, it isn’t just the career-specific knowledge that they are acquiring, but all the many skills and attributes they learn and nurture along the way.
The world is changing and companies are recruiting less university graduates than ever before. In 2012 one in eight employers did not recruit a university graduate, down from one in ten the year before. Gone are the days of working for the same company all your life, instead people are changing employers, and even careers every few years. Companies are asking themselves ‘is it worth the time and cost of recruiting university graduates, training them in the ways of the company, only for them to leave for another firm a couple of years down the track?’ In this global, technologically advanced community we now live in, companies can easily outsource work to freelancers, anywhere in the world, that was once the work of graduates. Automation of processes is also playing a key role in companies employing fewer university graduates.
So what should you do?
Another good question! The most important thing for people considering which education system to enter is first determining what their career goals are, and will vocational training or university education provide the best opportunity to achieve those goals.
If, like most young people you’re unsure, then perhaps finding work full-time while studying part-time is the way to go until you’ve worked out what you want to do with your professional life. After all, the last thing you want to do is incur a huge debt studying for a degree you’re not passionate about, only to never use it once you graduate.