Why further education?

If you're going to spend time and money on your children’s further education, you want to know that it will give them better opportunities in the future.

Being ‘better off’ may mean that your children:

  • have a wider range of options open to them
  • have well paid and secure jobs
  • find interesting and fulfilling careers that utilise their knowledge and talents
  • are able to progress in their careers and get promotions
  • can afford to live the lifestyle they choose to and look after their families
  • are proud of what they have achieved
  • have the confidence to try new things

The benefits of further education

Independence

Those who gain an education qualification after high school will get the chance to practise learning independently.  For many people, their further education experience introduces them to life-long friends, shows them that they are capable of trying new things and gives them the opportunity to pursue a wider range of possibilities after they graduate.

Career choices

It is also true that people who go on to further education are more likely to build a career around an occupation than to work at an assortment of jobs over many years. Giving your children the possibilities of a career can lead to earning more money and getting greater satisfaction out of work.

These definitions outline the difference between jobs and careers:

  • Job: a position in which you perform tasks for payment.
  • Occupation: a group of similar jobs – for example, teaching is an occupation and within teaching you can have different jobs, such as art teacher, physics teacher or English teacher.
  • Career: the total of paid and unpaid work you undertake throughout your life. You might change occupations throughout your career, or you may remain in the same occupation and progress through different roles as your experience grows.

Engineering, accountancy, teaching and nursing are all examples of occupations and people can have different jobs within these areas. Your child might want to build a career by having several different jobs over the years, all within one occupational area. This kind of varied approach is becoming more common and if he or she has undertaken further education and gained skills to learn independently, then this progression can be easier to achieve.

Money and careers

With a further education qualification your child will be eligible for higher paying positions after graduation and is more likely to be offered opportunities for promotion down the track than if he or she had finished studying at a high school level.

Fact: If you complete a degree, you'll earn around 15 per cent more than a non-university graduate.

— Graduate Careers Australia

Research shows that someone with a bachelor degree who goes on to build a career which utilises that qualification is likely to earn an average of $2.9 million over his or her lifetime. That compares with $2.07 million for someone who has a Year 12 qualification or $1.74 million for a person whose highest level of education is Year 11.

To show you what that means on a yearly basis, here are some examples:

  • Retail assistant, no qualifications: average $50,000
  • Marketing professional, higher education qualification: average $98,000
  • Office administration assistant, no qualifications: average $54,000
  • Banking and financial services officer, higher education qualification: average $91,000
  • Hospitality, no or basic qualification: average $40,000
  • PR and communications, higher education qualification: average $81,000

Types of further education

Further education is doing some sort of study after leaving high school. This includes:

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

VET courses are offered by Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), such as TAFE institutes and CIT. VET courses focus on training students in the skills they need to use in particular jobs. Some people do work experience as part of a VET course, while some types of jobs require employees to do a VET course while they’re employed. VET courses are available at different levels, from short courses of a few days, through to certificates and diplomas that can take a few months to two years to complete.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

These courses combine paid work and structured training. They allow students to learn a trade or workplace skill on the job while they study to receive a nationally accredited qualification.

  • Apprenticeships: Usually last three or four years and cover 'traditional' trades such as carpentry, electrical, hairdressing and plumbing.

Traineeships: Usually last one or two years and provide entry-level training in areas not usually covered by apprenticeships. Traineeships are available across a diverse range of careers in most sectors of business and industry.

University

Some university courses relate to particular jobs, such as medicine for doctors or education for teachers, but universities also concentrate on teaching different areas of study or ‘disciplines’, which could lead to a variety of jobs. For example, students may choose to study media and communications, including subjects on journalism and broadcasting, and with the aim of getting work as an advertising executive after graduation. University qualifications can include bachelor degrees and masters degrees.

Bachelor degrees are the first degree students take and they usually take three years to complete. You will often see a bachelor degree written like this:

  • BA (Bachelor of Arts)
  • BSc (Bachelor of Science)
  • BEng (Bachelor of Engineering)

Students studying for bachelor degrees are known as undergraduates which means they have not yet completed this first level at university (graduated).

A masters degree is a higher level qualification than a bachelor degree. Because they are offered after students have already graduated from their first course, those studying for masters degrees are known as postgraduate students.

Some employers require applicants to have at least a bachelor degree.  Low ATAR results or no ATAR does not mean that university isn't an option. There are other pathways to university. If you want to explore courses further you can find out more in the study options section.

Moving out of home to do further study

For many young people, the chance to move out of home to study gives them the opportunity to get some independent life experience before they start working fulltime.

Many TAFEs and universities have campuses in regional areas and there are also online and distance study options.  See Online Distance Education for more information.

Working towards a career

Your children should choose a course of study that matches their interests and skills.

For further information on choosing a career path and how to find a course that matches your children's career interests see the what  to study and career options pages.