VET-FEE HELP, Diplomas, Certificates and actually getting a job

If you have no other skills or experience is a Diploma going to get you a job!


There had been a lot of talk recently about VET-FEE Help programs, the cost of the Diploma and above qualifications and the way in which these courses are being marketed by some RTO’s and their Agents, but in addition to all of the other things that trouble me about this issue, Debt, quality, outcomes, what really worries me is that it seems that a large amount of the marketing of these programs is being done to people who do not have any other formal qualifications and little who possess little or no experience in the area in which they are commencing study.  Which leads me to today’s question,

Is that Diploma that you spent $10-20,000 on actually going to help you get a job if you don’t have any experience or would you have been better spending $3000 or less (and much less if you are eligible for government funding) on a Certificate III or IV?

I think if we are being really serious about this, the answer is pretty straightforward; if you don’t have relevant experience or other qualifications a Diploma is not going to get you the job you think it will.  Lets look a scenario or two shall we.  So you are in your 20’s and unemployed, your friends say you would make a good counsellor, so when you see an add on Facebook to become a counsellor for no upfront charges and not have to pay until you make a certain amount of money you jump at the chance, particularly when you get a free Ipad as well.  So you do your course (which in reality ends up costing you nearly $20,000, but you don’t really notice because it is on VET-FEE Help), get your certificate and go and go and look fora job.

Now the real question here is is this person going to actually find a job as a counsellor?  My initial reaction is probably not, (ok they could set themselves up in their own business, if the course they have just finished is accredited with one of the registration bodies for counsellors, bet they didn’t ask that before they signed up) I don’t know many organisations who are going to employ someone with just a Diploma of Counselling and no other experience in the Community Services sector, particularly when there are a lot of people out there with higher qualifications and better experience.  So in the end the person takes a role in an organisation as say a support worker, or an admin assistance or intake officer, if they can get one, over people who actually have a qualification (which is likely to be  a cert III or IV) relevant to the role.

This is of course not just the case in the community sector, is just having a Diploma in Project Management is going to land someone a role as a project manager, probably not, again they will probably end up in a role like a project officer or something similar.

Of course the real problem with both these scenarios is that the person in question has accumulated a massive debt, to get (if they are lucky) a role they could have got with a qualification which would have cost them much less.

Unless you have some relevant experience, or at least some other relevant skills, then a Diploma by itself is not going to necessarily help anyone get a job, and they may well have been better off in the long run, doing a government-funded Certificate III program and saving themselves $10-20,000 in Debt.

But you know, that’s just my opinion.


About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

4 Responses to VET-FEE HELP, Diplomas, Certificates and actually getting a job

  1. Paul, I absolutely agree with you. Further, I would be surprised to see a Diploma qualification where experience in a workplace is not a requirement of at least most of the units of competence.
    Cath Ralston

  2. basdenleco says:

    @Paul and Cath
    One must gain experience in the workplace for many UOC’s in various Diplomas to be considered or assessed as competent.
    Or do we surrender to a situation where the person has done the Diploma knowledge content but is not granted the qualification pending on work experience?
    Can not see that happening in the private RTO world.
    The situation is not farcical but is going to create a myriad problems down the road.

  3. Tony says:

    As a person who teach at both univ and private RTO and tafe in the past
    I have to disagree with this post

    Firstly an unemployed who is jumping at diploma wont even get their foot in the door with no diploma. So the diploma itself is a priority.

    Second tafe is cheaper from your perspective who are probably making decent income but it is a possible amount for long term unemployed. It is god given chance for them to be able to postphone their payment to improve their career

    Thirdly the RTOs go through the stringest audits ever in the world to qualify to be vocational. It is hellish audits compared to univs

    They are helping the youth giving them real shots which they never had.

    Hope this helps

  4. Hi @Paul

    I often enjoy your posts, and here we go with another relevant one 😉 @Tony makes some good points too, so there are always two ways to look at issues like this one.

    I have been in VET consulting for 13 years now, and in that time most of the students I dealt with were working already. The RTO I did most of my time with would refuse to enrol unemployed people, mainly because of the drain on resources and the fact many of them never submit assessments or graduate with their award.

    It’s kind of a shame that now my favourite value of Access & Equity is being abused by unscrupulous RTO’s.

    The problem as I see it is students seem to have no idea how to research and enrol with a quality provider. They see “No Upfront Costs”, Ipad, Laptop, Chrome Book and go all ga ga, but most have not considered the debt down the road.

    I think anyone who enrols under the Fee Help program should be given an individual costs disclosure before they sign the enrolment form. They should be signing off their awareness of the total cost and what is included upfront. This would hurt the bad guys, or at least slow some of them down.

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