You don’t need a degree says university chief
YOUNG Australians have been made to "feel they are a nobody" if they don't do a degree when they finish school, the nation's peak university group says.
Calling for a sweeping review of post-secondary education, Group of Eight chief executive Vicki Thomson said it was "undeniable" that Australia needed TAFE graduates just as much as those from university.
"As a more knowledge and technology-based economy emerges, a university degree no longer will be the only qualification necessary to succeed," Ms Thomson said.
To equip young Australians for jobs of the future Ms Thomson said a new approach was needed that nurtured the development of different skills and abilities.
"We could not live healthily, safely or successfully without universities, their teaching and their research as an integral part ouniversity tafe daif society," she said.
"But nor are we likely to do so without plumbers, electricians, fire safety inspectors, and those trained in food safety - all of which is delivered through VET (Vocational Education and Training)."
In a keynote address to the Graduate Employment Outcomes and Industry Partnerships Forum in Sydney, Ms Thomson said "important sub-degree programs in vocational education have languished" while undergraduate degree enrolments increased substantially.
"We must value those who choose not to choose university … as much as the Go8 values its students."
A major report to be released by KPMG today also calls for greater recognition of vocational education which will provide many of the workplace skills needed in future.
The report urges the federal government to take charge of both higher and vocational education under a single funding system to equip young Australians for the changing employment world.
KPMG partner Professor Stephen Parker said: "In such a funding framework, loan finance would be available equitably for people to choose a VET option.
"More students will choose to undertake a shorter course than a bachelor level qualification … and the degree may become less dominant as a qualification.
"In a coming world of automation, artificial intelligence and other transformative technologies, the key may be skills rather than discipline-based knowledge."
Prof Parker said greater public support for VET would help ease Australia's chronic labour market shortage of technicians and trade workers.
Abby Mackenzie, 20, who is in her second year of Bachelor of Criminal Justice at Charles Sturt University, said she expected to move away from Port Macquarie to find a job.
"I have a couple of friends who have done apprenticeships and become tradies," she said.
"Even though university is advertised more I think there is a need to promote vocational education and training better.
"My friends have done well but I want to keep my (job) options open."
Brenden Grainger, 19, in his second year of a Bachelor of Business Studies at Charles Sturt, said the degree would lead him to further studies and a career in marketing.
"I am looking at becoming a marketing manager for a transnational corporation but it is common here in Port Macquarie for people to go into vocational work," he said.
"I have a bunch of mates who have done that and the majority are just about finished their apprenticeships to become builders, carpenters or electricians."