What is Vocational Education and Training (VET)?

This article is sponsored by StudyAdelaide

For high employability, practical, hands-on learning, and a range of unique, specialised courses, many students look to Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers. Studying a VET course can be an excellent option for international students who are looking for a quicker path into the workforce and a focus on industry-based skills.

What is VET?

There are so many different study options available to international students in Australia, so you may be wondering what VET study is, and the qualifications you can gain. VET focuses on real-world skills to prepare people for various jobs, including in a trade or craft. While university tends to teach a broad range of theories, VET focuses on specific skills for a particular workplace, meaning there is a range of unique and interesting courses for students to choose from.

In Australia, VET providers must be approved for registration on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) before they can teach to international students. You can use the Australian Government’s CRICOS register to see what institutions and courses are available to you.

Why study a VET course?

There are several reasons to study a VET course, including:

Hands-on experience

While university tends to offer a more theoretical education, VET provides industry-standard training facilities so you can learn real-world skills and apply them in the classroom. This is especially valuable if you’re studying a trade or craft, such as drafting or cookery.

Pathway to university

As an international student, you can use VET as a pathway into university, whether through partnerships with various universities or through credit transfers. This is a great option if you’re not feeling confident about heading to university yet, didn’t get the marks necessary to enter a university degree, or want to try a brand new course in a shorter timeframe, before proceeding to further studies. Contact your VET provider to see what pathway options are available to you.

Earlier entry into the workforce

In most cases, students graduate from VET faster than from university; many VET qualifications can take from six months to two years full-time to complete, whereas it takes three years at a minimum to complete a degree. This means you can enter the workforce more quickly and start earning.

Courses on offer

There is a diverse range of courses on offer through VET. In particular, there is a focus on progressive, fast-growing industries to improve students’ employability. Students are able to study everything from healthcare and information technology, to tourism and hospitality, to accounting and bookkeeping.

You can also tailor your course to very specific skills. For example, students can study live production and technical services (i.e. working behind the scenes in theatre, film or TV), fashion design, or animation.

To explore the courses available to you, head to the CRICOS register.

Degree levels

There are a number of qualifications to choose from at various VET providers, depending on the duration of the course and the industry you’d like to enter. Some courses offer a more basic overview of a subject and tend to be shorter, whereas others are more specialised, often involving work placement, which will take longer.

Some of the most common qualification types in Australia include Certificates (I-IV), Diplomas, and Undergraduate degrees.


Ranging from Certificate I to Certificate IV courses, the higher the certificate number, the higher the level of skill a graduate will have. With a Certificate I, you will have knowledge and skills for initial work, while a Certificate IV will give you the practical and theoretical skills for specialised skilled work.


A Diploma will give a graduate more specialised knowledge and skills, an Advanced Diploma will offer broader knowledge for graduates, and a Graduate Certificate and Diploma produces graduates with advanced level knowledge and skills for professional work.


Some VET providers offer Undergraduate Bachelor Degree courses, which offer the broadest and most coherent knowledge and skill base for graduates. Undergraduate courses tend to take the longest, on average lasting three years full-time.

English courses

You can also undertake English courses through VET providers, specially designed for international students. Whether you’re preparing for the IELTS test or improving your academic English before commencing university, there are several English courses on offer to suit your needs.

Student life

VET providers offer lots of support services designed to enhance your study experience. From libraries and spacious grounds, to counselling and careers help (think resume writing and job interview preparation), you’ll be well supported during your time in Australia.

It’s also common for VET providers to have international student support services available to help to resolve any problems specific to you, so know that there will always be a friendly face nearby to help you during your studies.

Adelaide’s VET institutions offer you the opportunity to learn specific and practical job skills. It’s the perfect route for international students who are looking for a quicker path into the workforce and a focus on real-world and industry-based skills.

Learn more at StudyAdelaide.