What is Vocational Education and Training (VET)?

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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.


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.


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. For example, TAFE NSW offers credit for relevant courses at Australian Catholic University (ACU), Charles Sturt University (CSU) and University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

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.

City and regional learning

There are VET providers all over Australia, including in major cities and regional areas, meaning you can study in your ideal location. Students looking to study in Sydney or regional New South Wales can look to TAFE NSW for vocational education. TAFE NSW has over 130 years of history. Spread across 130 locations in New South Wales with over 50 locations available for international students, TAFE NSW offers internationally renowned courses and facilities. Plus, studies show that TAFE NSW graduates get better salaries and have better job prospects.


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. For example, some of the most popular TAFE NSW courses include accounting and bookkeeping, beauty therapy, and community services.

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.

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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, including TAFE NSW, 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.


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.


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.

At TAFE NSW, for example, every international student has access to an International Students Coordinator. The International Students Coordinator can support you by organising your orientation program, meeting you when you arrive on campus, answering any questions about your study program, and helping to resolve any problems. They will also assist you in accessing other support services.

Be Job Ready. TAFE NSW creates first-class learning experiences and quality, personalised services that help our students reach their goals.

RTO 90003 | CRICOS 00591E | HEP PRV12049