There has long been a belief amongst the Australian parent fraternity that University enrolment was the holy grail for their school leaver children, with TAFE or trades apprenticeships being considered a lesser prize.
However a new report from the Grattan Institute has drawn attention to the flaws in this notion.
Over the past decade, university enrolments have increased by 33% with an increase in students with lower ATARS and from diverse backgrounds. Vocational education has been on the other end of the seesaw, with the number of students taking up a place in those trades-based courses down 43% in the past five years.
The report looks at the trend of lower ATAR students gaining acceptance to tertiary degrees, yet realising after investing significant time and money into the degree, that a vocational education would have been better suited to them.
But, while university pathways for courses favoured by females, namely nursing and education have solid employment outcomes, more generalised degrees in humanities and sciences which were favoured by males, resulted in difficulties landing employment.
The Grattan Institute have suggested that a change of attitude should come from parents, who should assess the individual skill sets of their children to determine if university or vocational route is more appropriate.
It is estimated Australia will need up to a million workers with vocational qualifications by 2023, and the decline in those taking up vocational training comes despite national skills shortages in many of the trades that are predicted to soon become more critical.