Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Train Career Advises at TAFE to Provide More Balanced Advice

Felicia Jaremus, 
University of Newcastle
Jaremus, Sincock, Patfield, Fray, Prieto and Gore (2023) from the Teachers and Teaching Research Centre, at University of Newcastle, have raised timely concerns about the dangers of pressuring young people into attending university, rather than vocational education. The researchers looked in detail at 22 Australian students during their schooling, and then 1 to 5 years after. The researchers found "... young people face immense pressure to attend university, even if their career aspirations do not require a degree, while other post-school pathways are derided...", and they warn of the risks to mental ill-health as a result. They suggest this is made worse by a lack of careers counselling. 

The researchers point out that professional jobs account for less than 20% of the total in Australia. However, they cite research by Gleeson, Walsh, Gallo Cordoba, Mikola, Waite, & Cutler, (2022) that 40% worried they would not have a professional career. With almost half of young Australians now having degrees, this is inevitably going to lead to frustration, when most of them cannot get a professional job.

One way to address the problem of a lack of careers advice, particularly on vocational education, I suggest, would be for schools to accept a Vocational Education Certificate IV, as a suitable qualification for careers advisors, as an alternative to a Graduate Certificate. That would acknowledge the role of vocational education, allow more advisors to become qualified, and also increase their familiarity with vocational education. 

Also it would be useful to integrate careers skills into the school curriculum, rather than having it as extra curricular activity. An example of where this is done in the higher education sector is the Australian National University's computing project and internship programs for work integrated learning. Students are guided through a series of exercises by professional careers advisers from ANU Careers, working in conjunction with academics. The student's last assignment is to write a job application for a real job, in which they detail the relevance to that job of the project, or internship they have just undertaken.

A corresponding problem exists in the higher education sector, where advanced research degrees are seen as the p goal for all students. Those who leave after a first degree, or peruse coursework postgraduate studies are made to feel inferior. This has the unfortunate consequence of pressuring students in to a a PhD, despite there being few well paid secure positions available after. I suggest that instead career advice should be integrated into degree programs, with students encouraged to first explore jobs outside research and academia. Universities have a vested interest in encouraging research students, and so may need an additional financial incentive to do otherwise.


Felicia Jaremus, Kristina Sincock, Sally Patfield, Leanne Fray, Elena Prieto & Jennifer Gore (13 Dec 2023): Pressure to attend university: beyond narrow conceptions of pathways to a “good life”, Educational Review, DOI:

Gleeson, J., Walsh, L., Gallo Cordoba, B., Mikola, M., Waite, C., & Cutler, B. (2022). Young women choosing careers: Who decidesMonash University, Melbourne, DOI10, 20448213. 

No comments:

Post a Comment