VET: Challenging Assumptions


The many different pathways of learning

We often hear that some people find courses within the VET sector more difficult than a university degree.

Fortress Learning Diploma of Business Administration, Diploma of Leadership and Management, and Diploma of Training, Design and Development Graduate, Christopher Ward, recently shared his experience comparing VET and University education with us:

‘It’s just a vocational certificate, how hard can it be? It’s not like it is university.’ Quite often students seem to think that VET courses are all easy and take very little effort. That would at least be partly true due to the… well… you know, some of the less than compliant RTOs that seem to give out qualifications like they are a bag of chocolate all sorts.

My own experience (where I learnt my lesson) – Diploma of Business was going to be easy, right? I mean, I had a couple of years of management experience by then. And better yet, the girlfriend of my study friend was starting 2nd year university for Bachelor of Business, surely she could help. My study friend asked for her help and as it turns out, what we were learning to do during a 6 month Diploma was ahead of the practical learning at university… we ended up helping her instead! (So much for vocational learning being strictly sub-par to university).

People who have successfully completed higher uni degrees often have the expectation that a VET course will be “easy”.  Whilst academically, it may be ‘easier’, VET qualifications, especially the Cert IV TAE, demand a different way of thinking that can prove to be very challenging.

It’s like comparing an English assignment with a Maths exam.  Whilst uni degrees are often theoretical and broad, VET qualifications are more applied and narrow.  They demand that you show and do things in very specific ways.

The combination of expecting the course to be easy as well as requiring a different way of thinking can cause resistance and uncertainty.

It can be confronting to have thoughts such as, “I shouldn’t be struggling, but I am!”

Getting over this shock does require a bit of humility and surrender. It requires you to change your thinking from, “Am I stupid??” to “I don’t know what I don’t know and I’m willing to learn.”

Here is what Fortress Learning Cert IV TAE Graduate, Trudy, said:

I’ve done post graduate university study & found the TAE more difficult but however to use a cliche with Fortress you can do it.

The stigma that has plagued VET as being the littler, ‘dumber’ brother to uni is untrue, unfair and does a disservice to the entire sector.  VET qualifications are relevant, useful, scrupulous and robust. The perception of the VET playing second fiddle to university must, and is, changing.

The rigour of the latest TAE Qualifications, such as the TAE40116 Cert IV TAE, will serve to ensure this.