Over the past decade or so, the emphasis in public discourse has been disproportionately on university as the route to a successful career, while TAFE as a pathway, has been down played.
This has provided cover for governments to cut money to TAFE, creating a vicious circle of reducing reference to it as a course provider and reducing funding.
As a consequence, there will be young (and perhaps not-so-young) people in our community who recently applied to enter an undergraduate university course without thought of TAFE as an alternative.
Many of them will have gained entry to their preferred study program, however, there will be others who have not achieved their wish.
Anyone in that position should explore what TAFE offers, despite funding cuts.
They will probably find that, through TAFE, their chances of gaining a worthwhile career are good and from a societal perspective, larger numbers of new entrants will pressure governments to move back to funding public sector vocational education and training properly.
One thing a young person would be ill-advised to do is to not bother studying for a career at all.
While the so called gig economy may enable the school leaver to gain work, it is typically composed of temporary, on again/off again jobs delivering varying weekly incomes and devoid of other benefits, hardly the basis for a secure and stable future.
Interest and capability, along with fee levels and later earning capacity, will always be major determinants when choosing an employment directed study program.
Notwithstanding, there are other questions that may warrant consideration.
While recognising that almost all jobs change over time, requiring adaptation and new skills and knowledge, are the occupations that a course prepares students for likely, at some point, to require substantial retraining, perhaps because of major technological change or industry restructure, and would that be a concern?
Does one envisage working in a large or small organisation, predominantly indoor or outdoor?
Or is one attracted to the idea of self-employment, and if so, is the considered course suitable?
Can it provide the necessary business related skills?
Does one want to work locally, in a major city, rurally or even overseas, and what are the likely options?
This latter question may not be important when solo but can become a major issue when partnered, with or without children. With respect to the course of study itself, does it require, now or a bit later, employment in the industry as an apprentice or trainee, and should one explore opportunities with local employers?
Would study through distance delivery be desirable or would one be better off with the constraints and interaction of regular campus attendance?
Or if still hankering after a particular professional career via university study, would a particular TAFE course be a way into it, perhaps with some credit transfer?
At the same time, we need to remember that, for most of us, whatever course of study we undertake now, it will be but one link in a lifetime of relationships, work and learning.
Furthermore, when looking back upon retirement, we will realise that we could not have predicted most of what the later relationships, work and learning would come to involve.
Email, Jan 29
Sonnie Hopkins, Tascott