VET(Vocational Education & Trainig) Manual-Australia

Vocational Education & Training Overview

Vocational means “work” or “career”, so Vocational Education and Training (VET) is focused on education and training for work roles.

In general, VET study:

  • offers a variety of certificates and diplomas;
  • develops professional and personal skills, that are closely linked with industry;
  • develops career paths through a mix of study and practical work;
  • generally combines classroom study as well as hands-on training;
  • is competency based whereby students must demonstrate skills to gain a qualification.

Focus Questions

  1. What types of education providers offer VET courses?
  2. What kinds of qualifications does the VET sector offer?
  3. What are the entry requirements for different VET courses?
  4. What kind of quality assurance exists for VET providers?
  5. What are some learning pathways that are relevant to the needs of international students?
  6. What are the benefits of obtaining a VET qualification?

Structure of the Australian VET Sector

Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector offers a large variety of qualifications for students with a strong practical orientation.

The Students

VET students are typically:

  • schools leavers seeking to acquire practical skills for work;
  • school leavers seeking an alternative pathway to university;
  • workers who are seeking to further develop their career skills;
  • university graduates who need to acquire practical skills for the work;
  • those simply wishing to develop their personal interests.

The Institutions

A comprehensive database of institutions offering VET qualifications can be found at the website.

TAFE – Technical and Further Education

There are currently 59 TAFE institutes that deliver VET training across Australia. They are government funded, they provide post-school education and training, and they usually have a more practical focus than university courses.

TAFE institutes contain some of the largest ELICOS centres in Australia. They are also sometimes part of a University. For example, every university in Victoria except one has a TAFE division.

TAFE courses are often used by international students as a pathway to undergraduate programs at university, especially via the Diploma route. Some TAFEs offer university degrees through affiliated universities, and some offer their own degrees.

Private Colleges

There are approximately 5000 other registered providers of VET courses. These range from small institutions that offer specialised courses in one particular area of study to large private colleges which are similar to larger TAFE institutes.

A wide variety of VET courses are offered through private colleges. The most popular courses for international students are those related to Business and Information Technology.

Like TAFE, private colleges are popular with international students as pathway institutions, since they can provide entry to university studies after completing a VET qualification. Also, some private institutions offer university programs through affiliated universities, and others offer their own degrees.

 VET in Schools

Over 95 per cent of Australia’s secondary schools that offer senior secondary programs also offer VET programs to their senior students. This means students can gain practical work skills and VET qualifications as part of their school education.

In 2008, there were 347,400 enrolments in VET in schools programs across Australia. So, students can study their senior secondary certificate and they can also be trainees and employees by participating in a work-based pathway. Learn more at the Vet In Schools site.

The Courses

VET providers offer a very large range of courses from Certificate I through to Bachelor Degrees, Graduate Certificates and sometimes Graduate Diplomas (see

The following list details some of the more popular and common programs offered in Australia:

Business and Management

  • This covers a wide range of fields. VET offers programs including information technology, frontline management, hospitality and marketing courses

Community services and health care

These courses are designed to prepare students to work within organisations providing a range of community based services.

  • Courses are offered at a Certificate I entry level through to Diploma level.
  • These are often designed for workers who are predominantly involved in interpersonal contact

with clients in a variety of community work services.

Communications and information technology

  • These courses provide students with the detailed knowledge and skills needed for a future career in information technologies.

Design and the arts

  • These courses offer theoretical and practical studies in a student’s chosen area as well as training in presenting work and business management

Engineering & building

  • Students can receive certificate to diploma qualifications in a wide variety of building and engineering fields such as air-conditioning and refrigeration, carpentry, design and civil engineering.

Hospitality and tourism

  • These programs can lead students into supervisory positions in the food service, hospitality and tourism industries.

Land management, agriculture, fisheries and forestry

  • Training in these programs can lead students to careers in catchment and land management, water and wastewater management, farm management, conservation, land care, pest, animal and plant management, revegetation and land rehabilitation, protected area management, and wildlife management.

Sports & recreation

  • These programs enable students to gain employment in a variety of fields within the sports and recreation industries.
  • Students are provided with a fundamental knowledge of exercise programming, leadership and motivation, sports marketing, resistance training, nutrition, rehabilitation, personal training, and psychology.

Australian VET Qualifications

The VET sector offers eight qualifications:



Certificate I

3 – 6 months

Certificate II & III

6 – 12 months

Certificate IV

1 year


1 – 2 years

Advanced Diploma

2 – 2.5 years

Vocational Graduate Certificate

6 months

Vocational Graduate Diploma

1 – 1.5 years


The general aims of Certificate level courses are to:

  • prepare candidates for both employment and further education and training;
  • recognise skills and knowledge that meet national industry standards.

Certificates I and II are qualifications which recognise the students’ basic vocational skills and knowledge.

Certificates III and IV are the equivalent of trade certificates in various vocations. These prepare students for both employment and further education and training in their chosen field.


Diploma courses aim to:

  • prepare students to use their skills and knowledge based on fundamental principles and complex techniques;
  • recognise the ability to show initiative and judgment across a broad range of technical and management functions;

The Advanced Diploma is a more specialised qualification that shows skill and knowledge of a greater complexity and a higher level of personal accountability.

Note that some TAFE institutes and private providers also offer programs above Diploma level.

Entry Requirements and Costs

Australian VET qualifications have been popular amongst international students for many years. Entry requirements vary greatly from institution to institution and from course to course.

In general, to begin a certificate level course, students need:

  • a qualification equivalent to Grade10-12 in an Australian high school;
  • an English language proficiency of IELTS 5.5 or TOEFL paper based 530-550 or equivalent in other accepted language tests.

Entry requirements above certificate level may take into account previous training and experience within an industry. This process is known as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

RPL allows a person to receive recognition and credit for the knowledge and skills they have, no matter how and where they were attained, including overseas. This can include skills from:

  • previous study – including courses at school or college, through adult education classes or training programs at work;
  • work experience – including both work that is paid and unpaid;
  • life experience – for example leisure pursuits or voluntary work.

To obtain RPL, it is important that a student’s knowledge and skills help to meet the learning outcomes and assessment criteria of the qualification that the student is seeking credit for. RPL assessment can result in a full qualification or a Statement of Attainment for partial completion.

You can approach the educational institution that a student wishes to study at and ask for further details about RPL assessment. Also, assessment-only Registered Training Organisations will assess a student’s skills and experience on a fee-for-service basis.

Cost of VET for Overseas Students

Course fees vary greatly depending on the course and/or the institution. As a general guide, international students are charged tuition fees of $A5,500 to $18,000 per year. The average tuition fee is approximately $10,000 per year.

Quality Assurance in the VET System

Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

The vocational education and training (VET) Quality Framework is aimed at achieving national consistency in the way providers are registered and monitored and in how standards in the vocational education and training (VET) sector are enforced.

ASQA is the body which sets these standards and provides organisations with the approval to offer VET courses. There are two elements to the VET Quality Framework:

  • Standards that govern the operations of the organisations (Registered Training Organisations)
  • Standards that govern the nature of the VET courses (Training Packages and Accredited Courses) There are 8 VET qualifications which are part of the The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF):
  • Certificates I, II, III and IV;
  • Diploma, and Advanced Diploma;
  • Vocational Graduate Certificate and Vocational Graduate Diploma.
  1. Registered Training Organisations

The NVR Standards for Registered Training Organisations requires them to:

  • Have documented systems for quality training and assessment;
  • Have documented agreements with other organisations when they provide training or assessment in partnership;
  • Have written procedures for recruitment, induction and professional development of staff;
  • Use trainers and assessors (teachers) with specified skills;
  • Follow specific requirements for assessment strategies;
  • Demonstrate that their owners/CEO are suitable individuals to operate an education organisation.
  1. Training Packages and Accredited Courses

Training packages are developed to meet the training needs of an industry, or a group of industries. Training packages specify the skills and knowledge required to perform effectively in the workplace. Each training package is made up of three components:

  • Units of competency: which define the skills and knowledge to operate effectively and how they need to be applied to perform effectively in a workplace context.
  • Qualifications framework: groups of units of competency ranging from Certificate I to Vocational Graduate Diploma level.
  • Assessment guidelines: the industry’s preferred approach to assessment, including the qualifications required by assessors, the design of assessment processes and how assessments should be conducted.

Where there are no training packages for a particular workplace available; a VET course may
be accredited by an organisation. There are specific standards and requirements for all accredited courses and each VET accredited course is allocated a national code and is listed on the national register,

Pathways to Higher Education

A major strength of the VET system is that it provides an alternative pathway to higher education or more specialised vocational training.

AQF qualifications link with each other in a range of learning pathways between schools, VET providers and universities. This encourages cross-sectoral linkage programs such as:

  • VET in Schools
    – this allows schools to offer industry based units of learning that can contribute to both the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education and Certificate I – IV qualifications;
  • Articulation and Credit Transfer Arrangements between registered VET providers and universities

– this involves the efficient articulation of programs and maximum credit transfer;

  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
    – credits are granted towards qualifications through assessment of an individual’s knowledge and skills gained through education, training, work and life experience.
    The AQF pathways diagram is shown here:

In addition, the pathway from university to vocational education and training qualifications is becoming increasingly popular. This enables students to gain industry experience needed to increase their employment opportunities.

Advantages of VET

Vocational Education and Training provides a number of significant advantages to students:

  • It gives students access to many job opportunities after as little as ten months of training.
  • It offers students more job opportunities and higher earnings based on their improved qualifications.
  • Students can develop both practical and professional skills that are taught by industry experienced instructors.
  • About 70 to 80% of employers are very satisfied with VET training since it provides students with appropriate skills, which leads to increased productivity.
  • The vocational and practical nature of VET curricula places less pressure on students with lower levels of English proficiency. This gives these students more time to develop their language skills before undertaking academic level studies if they wish to continue.

Useful Information Government sites

  • Australia – Country Information (DFAT)
  • Australian Demographic Statistics, March 2011 (ABS)
  • Public Holidays

Tourism sites

  • Australian Capital Tourism Corporation
  • Tourism New South Wales
  • Northern Territory Tourism Commission
  • Tourism Queensland
  • South Australian Tourism Commission
  • Tourism Tasmania
  • Tourism Victoria
  • Western Australian Tourism Commission

Weather Information

  • Rainfall and Temperature graphs (BOM)
  • you also can find weather information about cities around the world from World Climate.

Standard Times

Australia has both Standard Times and Daylight Saving Times (note that GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time).






Eastern Standard Time (EST)

New South Wales Australian Capital Territory Victoria

+ 10


Central Standard Time (CST)

South Australia Northern Territory

+ 9.5


Western Standard Time (WST)

Western Australia




Daylight Saving Times





Eastern Daylight/Summer Time (EDT)

New South Wales Australian Capital Territory Victoria

+ 11


Central Daylight/Summer Time (CDT)

South Australia

+ 10.5


Western Daylight/Summer Time (WDT)

Western Australia

+ 9.0


No Daylight Saving Times – use Standard Times

Queensland Northern Territory

+ 10 + 9.5

7:00pm 6:30pm

Refer to the Bureau of Meteorology for the start and finish dates of daylight saving times.