Career paths and the job market are changing in the land down under. With 1 in 5 Australian university graduates unable to secure a job in their field of study, graduates and the government alike, know an intervention is needed.
The stigma around TAFE or ‘technical and further education,’ is not new. It’s assumed, that those with jobs in trades only end up here because they couldn’t make it in the professional arena. However, recent salary reports and more importantly, satisfaction reports indicate this is far from true.
The job market in Australia is experiencing a steep decline in the entrants to vocational training, and they are attacking the problem full force. Starting by rebranding the position from trade or tradies to ‘professionals’, they target the parents whom they see as the biggest deterrent to this path. All parents want their children to secure their future with a fancy university degree, but is there light at the end of the tunnel? Are there enough corporate jobs to go around, and does this guarantee a successful career and profession? Not anymore.
To encourage entrants in vocational training, Master Builders Australia (MBA) is launching a pilot study at 6 western Sydney schools in locales such as Colyton, Blacktown and Rooty Hill. The pilot will introduce an apprenticeship program into the curriculum offering students hands on experience; something not included in most university curriculums.
Another reason for dropouts was the inability for students to complete the academic, especially math requirements. This is being addressed by the math being included earlier on in the program and gradually building that knowledge. Finally, MBA is sending career counsellors to up to 40 schools a month to speak with prospective applicants and promote a future in trades.
To appease parents, MBA also launched a pilot program in conjunction with the NSW government and local universities, whereby students successful in their trade, could enjoy the benefit of one year off their bachelors degree.
Trade applicants prefer getting their hands dirty. They don’t always have the aptitude for a dry university degree; instead they learn by doing. Success stories such as Will Peters and Ashley Schulz are testament to the future of trades in Australia. Will, a 28 year old project manager for a Fortune 500 project development company, completed 2 years at university before opting for a more hands-on approach. He studied online, while simultaneously completed his apprenticeship, and strongly advocates a future in trades.
Ashley at 21, is not only the only woman in the class, but also at the institution. Ambitious Ashley, has been named this year’s Fourth Year Apprentice of the year at the recent MBA NSW Awards and envisions working her way up to a successful project manager.
Altering a societal stigma will require time and a monumental effort by all parties, but Australia is not backing down. Working in conjunction, trade institutions, the government, and local universities are confident they can strengthen the trade job market in Australia that there is a future in TAFE.