What is TAFE and How Can It Benefit You?
TAFE stands for Technical and Further Education.
It’s a government-run system that provides education after high school in vocational areas, like beauty, design, childcare, accounting, business, recruitment, IT, and many more. While university teaches a broad range of theories, TAFE focuses on specific skills for a particular workplace. For example, a Certificate IV in Aged Care teaches all the skills needed to work in aged care – either at a client’s home or an aged care facility.
TAFE is usually taught at TAFE Institutes around Australia, although an increasing number of courses are available online.
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What is VET?
TAFE is just one part of VET (Vocational Education and Training). VET covers all vocational training in Australia. While TAFEs are run by the government, there are also similar institutions run by private businesses. They’re called things like colleges, training providers, or course providers.
There’s not that much difference between TAFEs and private providers – both offer courses online and on-campus, and they’re both quality-controlled by the government’s Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).
In 2016, 4.2 million students enrolled in VET with an Australian training provider. Of those, 1.08 million (60.6%) were at TAFEs, and 704 200 (39.4%) were at non-TAFE providers.
Recently, the government has begun to offer funding to private providers as well as TAFEs. That means that no matter whether you go for a private or a TAFE provider, you may be eligible to study a government-subsidised course, at a lower cost. You can check if you’re eligible by asking your course provider, or by checking your state government’s website.
Tafecourses.com.au offers high-quality VET courses from both TAFEs and private providers.
There’s plenty of qualifications to choose from in Australia, depending on the duration and job outcomes you’re after. Some courses offer a basic overview of a subject, while others a lot more specialised and can sometimes require work placement. These are the most common qualification types in Australia:
Graduates at this level will have knowledge and skills for initial work, community involvement and/or further learning
Graduates at this level will have knowledge and skills for work in a defined context and/or further learning
Graduates at this level will have theoretical and practical knowledge and skills for work and/or further learning
Graduates at this level will have theoretical and practical knowledge and skills for specialised and/or skilled work and/or further learning
Graduates will have specialised knowledge and skills for skilled/paraprofessional work and/or further learning
Graduates will have broad knowledge and skills for paraprofessional/highly skilled work and/or further learning
Graduates will have advanced knowledge and skills for professional or highly skilled work and/or further learning
Graduates at this level will have broad and coherent knowledge and skills for professional work and/or further learning
students graduated from a government-funded VET course
of government-funded VET students were employed
The average salary
of government-funded VET graduates was
TAFE by State
The following picture shows the percentage of students in government-funded courses in TAFE (black) and non-TAFE providers (white/grey) by state.
Each state has different laws, structure and statistics for their vocational education and training. Most states have a priority list of courses in areas in which Australia currently needs skilled workers. These priority lists will attract a bigger subsidy, meaning you’ll pay less for your education.
To check the eligibility requirements to study a government-subsidised course, click here.
Browse Tafe Courses By State
How To Choose a Provider
To make sure you’re getting the right training for your money, you need to make sure you’re choosing the right course provider. Some have been in trouble in the past for fast-tracking education, offering low-quality courses, or enticing future students with free products like iPads.
To make sure you’re choosing a quality provider, watch out for the following warning signs:
Extremely Short Course Duration
Most Certificates and Diplomas run for 6-24 months, so anything shorter probably won’t be able to give you the level of training you need. The exception is Short Courses, which usually only run a few weeks or months.
Low Training Quality
Of course, it’s hard to know this before signing up with a provider, but if you can find any reviews or testimonials beforehand, it will help with your decision. A quick Google search will usually alert you to any red flags.
Offering an Incentive
The government has cracked down on this now, but if a course provider tries to get students to sign up by offering free iPads, meals, laptops, etc, they should be avoided.
Some providers have been known to tell a student their course is free when it’s not. While you can defer your training costs by taking out a VET FEE-HELP loan, you’ll still have to pay back the money eventually. If you’ve provided your tax file number to a provider, it means you’ll be paying for the course. There are some legitimate sites that offer free courses, but they’re usually just short introductory ones. Certificates and Diplomas almost always need to be paid for, unless they fall under the Free TAFE Scheme which was announced in the 2018-19 Victorian State Budget and will be actioned on the 1st of January 2019. The courses that fall under this scheme are, in fact, 100% free.
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