Vocational Education and Training (VET)
The VET system provides a skilled workforce with nationally recognised qualifications and knowledge-based competencies. Students can enrol in qualifications (with around 2,000 on offer), accredited courses, industry recognised skill sets and units of competency, allowing them to gain the specific skills they need, when they need them. Training takes place in classrooms, workplaces and online, and can be full-time or part-time.
The largest numbers of program enrolments are in the fields of education of Management and Commerce and Society and Culture.
As part of the 4.2 million VET program enrolments in 2019, there were 2.6 million enrolments in stand-alone VET subjects. This training (referred to as subject only training) includes courses that are critical both to employers and the Australian economy. Examples include “construction white cards” for building sites, responsible service of alcohol and first-aid certifications.
Universities offer courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including associate degrees, bachelor degrees, masters and PhD qualifications. The vast majority of students study at the bachelor degree level (71% in 2017). Higher education usually involves a commitment to at least three years of full-time equivalent study to attain a bachelor degree, but many courses involve longer periods of education.
There were 1.09 million domestic students enrolled in higher education in 2019 (up by 34% over the past decade).
What subject areas are available?
The higher education sector provides training in all fields of education, but the largest numbers of enrolments are in Society and Culture (289,100 enrolments in 2019), which is a diverse field of education including studies in law, psychology, human welfare and society, language and linguistics, economics and sport and recreation.
Further information on higher education enrolments can be found at education.gov.au/higher-education-statistics.
Higher education enrolments, by field of education
|10 year change
|Society and Culture||289.1||32.2%|
|Management and Commerce||183.2||10.3%|
|Natural and Physical Sciences||104.8||54.3%|
|Engineering and Related Technologies||66.0||21.5%|
|Architecture and Building||28.6||34.6%|
|Agriculture Environmental and Related Studies||14.5||-4.1%|
|All fields of education1||1086.1||33.5%|
1. Total includes some mixed field and non-award courses
Apprenticeships and traineeships are a form of skills development that combine paid on-the-job work with training. They provide a nationally recognised VET qualification as well as relevant work experience.
Reflecting how highly workplace experience is valued by employers, apprentices and trainees generally have strong graduate employment outcomes.
There were 272,500 apprentices and trainees in-training in March 2020, working across more than 300 different occupations, including many non-trade occupations.
Occupations in which apprentices and trainees most commonly work
Sources: NCVER, Total VET Students and Courses; NCVER, Apprentices and Trainees; Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Higher Education Statistics