Are you looking for a starter course to give you some basic skills and knowledge, an entry-level certificate course to help get your foot in the door for your dream job, or a higher-level qualification like a Certificate IV or Diploma to start or further your career in a specialist area? Or maybe you want to work towards a trade qualification through a pre-apprenticeship or start an apprenticeship or traineeship, so that you can combine study with work. The following information should help you work out what kind of training matches your needs.
In vocational education and training, a course is made up of a number of units of competency that together make up a qualification. Each unit of competency focuses on the skills required for an occupation – for example, in a retail course there would be a unit on operating point of sale equipment, and in an automotive course there would be a unit on inspecting an engine.
Units of competency and VET courses are developed by working closely with industry to make sure they’re based on occupational requirements – this means your VET course will give you the combination of skills, knowledge and practical abilities that you need for a particular job or occupation. Because of this, to be awarded your qualification, you will be assessed on your demonstrated abilities – where you get to show what you know, and that you can do something to the standard required – rather than on knowledge only, as with a traditional exam.
Most courses for VET qualifications are available in either full time or part time options, depending on the training provider. You will need to consider how much time you can allocate and commit to your study and how it will best fit into your lifestyle. The following options are available through all WA TAFEs, and many other training providers.
Full time studies
Full time study is usually the most efficient way to get a qualification. Generally a full time course means that you will be attending training four or five days per week, or around 20–25 hours per week. Most full time courses at WA TAFE colleges require an application process, as places may be competitive and/or the course may have entry requirements. You can find out more about this in How to apply and enrol.
Part time studies
Studying part time gives you the flexibility to keep a part time job or manage your other commitments. Depending on the training provider, part time may mean attending training one or two days a week or perhaps one day and one evening per week. Not all training providers offer part time studies as an option for some courses.
Studying online can give you the flexibility to learn when and where suits you; however most online courses will still follow a schedule and require you to commit time each week. Not all training providers offer online study, and it may not be available for all courses, but those who do will be able to tell you more about how this works and whether it suits your circumstances.
A pre-apprenticeship is a Certificate II program that includes a mandatory period of workplace experience coordinated by the training provider. The aim is to provide you with industry specific training, combined with adequate time in a real workplace to gain skills, knowledge and behaviours to enable transition into a full apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
These are a combination of work and study, where you are employed either full time or part time and work just as any other employee would, except that while you’re working you are also completing a qualification. This may involve attending training one day a fortnight, attending a two-week block of training twice a year, on-the-job training by your employer, or a combination of all these.
Short courses and community learning
These courses are generally only a few weeks or months in duration, and they do not result in a qualification. They’re great if you want to do a quick course to improve your skills in a particular area – for example; learning a new software program, learning how to tile your kitchen, develop your skills in photography or music or even learning a new language. Classes for short courses are usually run once or twice per week, often in the evening.
There are eight levels of qualification in the VET system. In general terms, Certificates I and II offer skills and knowledge to get you started in an entry-level job, Certificates III and IV and Diploma levels are for more specialised jobs such as those in the trades or technology areas, and Advanced Diploma to Graduate Diploma levels offer a more complex and higher level of skills and knowledge.
The Australian Qualifications Framework is the national policy for regulated qualifications in the Australian education and training system. It provides the framework for qualifications in the school, vocational education and training and higher education sectors in Australia, enabling students to start at the level that suits them, then build up their qualifications as their needs and interests develop and change over time. You can achieve an AQF qualification in several different ways and from many different types of training and education providers.
The AQF ensures that all accredited VET qualifications are delivered and assessed using a consistent framework of skills and knowledge that mean your qualification is recognised around Australia and internationally.
Visit the AQF website to find out more about the AQF qualification levels.