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More than your ATAR – Does an ATAR even apply? Other Recognised Training

By August 12, 2021October 5th, 2021No Comments

Life after high school doesn’t have to mean uni. With around 4000 Registered Training Organisations in Australia – there are countless ways to follow the career of your dreams. It’s your passion that will define the direction of your education journey.


Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses – usually offered through TAFE or an RTO (Registered Training Organisation) – can be a more practical form of learning and is generally more accessible for young rural and regional Australians. As there are often local options, choosing this path can also avoid a stressful (and expensive!) city move and you can continue life with family and friends around you, where there are job opportunities and you can participate in your community.

And, VET is not just for traditional trades; there are hundreds of different occupations and industries including accounting, retail, hospitality, technology and the arts to name just a few. The focus of VET training is on developing the knowledge and practical skills needed for work.

  • It can assist in joining or re-entering the workforce
  • Helps upgrade skills in your chosen field
  • Allow you to make a career change
  • Can be used as a pathway to uni, often with credit
  • You can study a Certificate I, II, III or IV and even a Diploma or Advanced Diploma
  • Can get Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
  • VET Student Loans available
  • Some courses are even FREE!

My father encouraged me to gain a trade as it will make me a practical person and I will always have something to fall back on if I am ever struggling for work. I believe plumbing is the best job for me.”


VET courses are primarily offered by Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). These can include;

  • TAFE institutes
  • private colleges/institutions
  • some universities

While a ‘Certificate IV in Being Awesome’ sounds…well, awesome…it might not get you that job you are after. It is important to make sure that the course you are enrolling in is provided by an RTO. RTO’s go through rigorous, ongoing assessment to ensure you get industry best and nationally recognised training. You can find a list of registered RTOs on the My Skills website and here are some links to TAFE institutions in each state or territory to get you started:


Victorian TAFE Association – STUDY NT


TAFE vs UNI…or is it?

TAFE NSW Regional General Manager Belinda MacKinnon says all students should start exploring what works for them if they haven’t already.

“While university may be a viable option for some, it’s important that VET is considered a ‘Plan A’ for others.”

Ms MacKinnon said it shouldn’t be TAFE versus uni, but TAFE AND uni.

“Students undertaking a TAFE NSW course have options to transition into higher education pathways through credit transfer and agreements between TAFE NSW and university partners.

“At the same time, pathways are increasingly a two-way street. More and more, young people who already have a degree under their belt are looking to the training sector to gain an edge over other graduates by enriching their education with practical TAFE training.”

Heather from CEF Grenfell was a 2020 Grant recipient when undertaking two TAFE courses. Using these courses as a stepping stone to further her education even more, Heather has once again been supported by CEF in 2021 when she embarked on a Bachelor of Education (Technology & Applied Science).


In terms of wage comparisons, the latest Skilling Australia data shows the median full-time income for university graduates is $54,000; whereas a TAFE NSW graduate is earning $56,000.


CEF is indiscriminate in supporting young students (aged 16 to 25) seeking further education. This means we provide grants to VET students just as openly as to those enrolled in a university course.

The funds I have generously been donated have been put towards my tool box which I use on a daily basis. Chris Tudor has been fundamental in my grant and support thereafter, always happy for a chat on the phone to see how I am tracking and I am very grateful for that.

Timothy – CEF Central Australia
TAFE, Cert II Aircraft Engineering

The More Than Your ATAR series will  cover topics such as:

We’ll be talking to all the experts – students, CEF volunteers, high school and university advisors to help you on this long, windy road!

We're here to help! Check out our 'Make it Possible' Rural & Regional Inspiration Hub for real help and advice on making the right decision for YOU.


Author Ashlea

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