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Future study

The TAFE pathway for high schoolers

This article appears in: High school to uni
CDU VET carpentry student

A TAFE qualification is the key to unlocking opportunity, no matter your stage in life. For school students considering their future careers and the next big step in life, TAFE offers a springboard to the workplace and a job you're passionate about. 

What is TAFE?

When you study a TAFE course, you'll be given industry-focused training that provides you with the skills and knowledge to enter the workforce.

Unlike higher education courses which focus more on academic outcomes, TAFE qualifications focus on practical skills.

The hands-on experience you'll gain is designed to give you the confidence and qualifications to step into a career within an industry you're passionate about, whether that's cooking, hair and beauty, tourism, construction, sport and fitness, hospitality, health, horticulture or more. 

Study options for high schoolers

You don't have to wait until you graduate to get started on your career.

Our VET Delivery for Secondary Students (VSS) program is a training pathway that helps you get job ready while you finish your high school studies. With a combination of classroom and work-based learning, you'll be able to finish high school with a TAFE qualification as well as a secondary school certificate. 

So which TAFE course can you do as part of this VSS program? Secondary schools negotiate the courses available to their students each year. You can complete an Expression of Interest form for any VSS program here at CDU (and you can get these forms from your School TAFE Coordinator). 

School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships (SBAT) are another option. Think of them as a part-time apprenticeship. An SBAT involves earning a wage and training with an employer in an industry you're passionate about while completing your high school studies.

Then, once you graduate, you can go about finishing your apprenticeship full-time.

Talk to your School TAFE Coordinator for more details about SBAT.

Advantages of TAFE study

CDU TAFE gives you the real-life skills to perform specific jobs. You're exposed to the workplace and given the opportunity to figure out if a specific industry is right for you. 

TAFE providers are constantly keeping up with industry demands and skills so you can be confident that courses are adapted to meet the changing needs of the Australian economy.

Some of Australia’s most in-demand roles such as bricklayers, plumbers and healthcare workers require the practical skills that are learnt through vocational education. Choosing a TAFE qualification in an in-demand field makes you highly attractive to employers.

Employers value TAFE qualifications because they know that you have the relevant industry skills to competently take on a role.

More importantly, average annual salaries reflect this! According to research, the top five earning trades bring home more than $100,000 a year. 

Plumbers are the highest earners, followed by concreters, builders, flooring company tradespersons and carpenters.

Straight off the bat, TAFE graduates also enjoy a median full-time income of $56,000 a year once they qualify, compared to $54,000 for university graduates, according to data from Skilling Australia. 

Learning in a real workplace also provides you with the confidence and skills to start your own business should you wish to do so. There are multiple advantages of being self-employed, including flexibility, choice of work location, control over your own income, independence, and freedom from routine.

TAFE courses cost less than a university degree, with fees depending on your chosen course and the duration of your study. However, there is financial support available to help with the cost of study and fees for government-subsidised students are often heavily reduced.

Is it for me?

While university study is necessary for certain industries such as medicine or engineering, it’s not for everyone. For students who are interested in obtaining hands-on skills in high-demand industries, a TAFE course is a great option to ensure a bright future. 

TAFE study also provides a pathway to further university study, should you wish to pursue that. Often, credits can be used towards a degree which can reduce study time and fees. It's important to remember that TAFE is both a starting point and a final destination in its own right. 

If you’re looking for a study option that will give you a head start on a career you love straight out of school, CDU TAFE might be right up your alley.

Talk to your School TAFE or Careers Coordinator about your options, or reach out to our Student Central team. Call 1800 061 963 or email:

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