The Technical and Further Education (TAFE) system of study is an Australian government-owned and nationally-recognised initiative that adheres to national training guidelines to accommodate the needs of business.
TAFE institutes are internationally renowned for providing the skills, training and knowledge required to prepare students for employment and, thus, attract thousands of students from across the globe to study in Australia.
The focus of TAFE is hands-on practical training to equip the student with workforce skills essential for those entering the job market. Its aim is to optimise learning and professional development opportunities.
Fields of study
TAFE provides vocational courses that are designed to ensure that they are relevant to commerce, and this is established through dialogue with industry insiders, so that the students can properly transfer their acquired skills into the employment market.
The fields of study normally covered by TAFE courses include hospitality, tourism, finance, business, construction, engineering, information technology, visual arts, and community work.
There are a number of benefits that come with vocational training that purely academic courses simply cannot provide. Vocational training programs generally focus on teaching students how to perform specific tasks that would be required in their actual job. By gaining this know-how through their studies, these students are instantly put into an advantageous position when looking for work because they have already put the theory of their chosen field of study into practice. For the most part, academic education programs don’t offer this.
Other advantages that come with enrolling into a TAFE course include:
TAFE courses can be undertaken on a part-time or full-time basis, as well as online, by distance teaching. They cater to all ages, skill levels and backgrounds, and can accommodate the needs of practically everyone from school-leavers to parents and employees who have other obligations to meet, apart from their studies.
- University education
Diploma graduates of TAFE courses can receive up to one or even two years’ worth of credit towards a related university degree. Being that those vocational courses can be up to two years shorter than a university qualification, the student may save time by gaining the initial credits through their TAFE course.
Students who undertake vocational training often gain invaluable work experience through work placements in real businesses, which are common requirements of their course. This means that by the time they are finished with their studies, they will have relevant industry experience which will come to good use when they’re looking for employment.
- Support services
There are a number of different support services that TAFE institutes provide to their students, including career counselling, tutorial support, libraries, Student Associations, assistance with housing, and even child care services.
There is still an on-going debate as to the merits of a vocational curriculum versus academic education programs. The argument persists as to whether teaching should be about equipping the student with vocational or workforce skills or whether programs should be designed to be more academic.
No one can deny the value of practical experience through apprenticeships, internships, and even part-time jobs whilst studying. At the same time, there are a number of professions that are based on academic theory that vocational training cannot teach in its entirety.
So, perhaps rather than try and justify one program of study at the expense of the other, it needs to be acknowledged that what is needed is a balance of both. A combination of technical and academic education that will cater to the needs of the student and industry alike sounds like the best idea of all.