Costs, Benefits and the value of a VET qualification

What is the value of a VET qualification?  I have recently found myself rolling this question around in my head quite a lot in an attempt to come up with some way of looking at qualifications within the sector to determine whether, particularly for individuals, they are worth undertaking.  What I mean by this is simply if I spend $5000 on  a course of study am I likely to as a result of that qualification get a return on my investment of at least equal to or hopefully more than the amount I spent.  Given that most people undertaking VET courses do so to improve their workforce position (about 80% of all students according to NCVER figures) what we are in reality saying here is if I spend $5000 and I going to get that back in the form of wages or earnings as a direct result of having that qualification.

Now I know that it is the case that not everyone does a course of study in order to directly influence the amount of money they are paid for their labor or services and that people undertake courses for a variety of reasons, I guess I am simply trying to see whether their might be a way of evaluating the ‘value’ of a course in such a way as to be able to give us meaningful information about the likelihood of the course having an impact on a students employment or workforce opportunities.

Here is an example of what I am talking about, which course offers better value to a student

Course A:  Course cost $15,000.  Average wage of person with Qualification $100,000.  Percentage of graduates who gain employment within 12 months 10%, or

Course B:   Course cost $5,000.  Average wage of person with qualification $50,000.  Percentage of graduates who gain employment within 12 months 80%.

Given these two options, which one would you choose.  If we don’t consider anything else apart from the information provided, which course offers the better outcome and more importantly can we even actually make such a determination.

Is it the case that even though it seems that most students undertaking courses are doing so for improved workforce outcomes, that the actual value of the qualification itself is not derived from actual improvements in workforce outcomes, but is in fact determined by other more intangible factors.

So I have a question for all of you out there and it is just this – What is the value of VET qualification and can we encapsulate that value in monetary terms?

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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.

One Response to Costs, Benefits and the value of a VET qualification

  1. Tony says:

    Paul, we keep on trying to find solutions backwards. The argument above has NCVER Weasel words “most people undertaking VET courses do so to improve their workforce position (about 80% of all students according to NCVER figures)…
    “To improve” is the key word, which does NOT mean that 80% have obtained a job because of the VET course.
    However, your example says “Course B: Course cost $5,000. Average wage of person with qualification $50,000. Percentage of graduates who gain employment within 12 months 80%.”; i.e. 80% DO get the job, but NCVER says those who attempt courses will improve (ONLY) their chances to get a job, hopefully.
    The only way these young people will get an employment if the employer places them in a VET course. We need to improve the system by a combined effort of Recruiters, Govt and RTOs working together with the relevant Employer Industry.
    It may be possible by perusing the 3 lines of support for job seekers:
    https://jobsearch.gov.au/path/jobseekers
    https://www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au/australian-apprenticeship-support-network
    https://www.tafensw.edu.au/industry/skillspoints
    Let us see if the govt can get it all together or is it a facade, can they build an alliance or will there be territorial fights for funds?

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