Trade vs Tertiary

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Timber and Building Materials Association (TABMA) is a timber industry association which specialises in the employment of trainees and apprentices within the timber, construction, forestry, furnishing and manufacturing industries across Australia.

When it comes to careers for school leavers, tradies tend to get a bad rap, a TABMA media release says. According to recent research (Skilling Australia Foundation and McCrindle Research), four in five Australian parents (79%) want their kids to go to uni after leaving school, rather than do an apprenticeship. But why? To those already enjoying the apprenticeship lifestyle, it’s a no-brainer.

At a time when Australia is desperate for more skilled workers, school leavers are going to university after being led to believe that this is the only way to a secure future. But more times than not, they would be better suited to doing something they’re truly interested in, earning while they learn, and with little or no debt at the end of their training.

“We’re unnecessarily setting up a generation with unrealistic job expectations and large student debts,” says Colin Fitzpatrick, CEO of TABMA and TABMA Apprentices and Trainees. There are thousands of great and rewarding jobs out there that don’t require a degree, with well-paying, upwardly mobile careers. And given the rising cost of formal education, a traineeship is a far more cost-effective training option.”

Most Vocational Education & Training (VET) students get priceless industry experience in a genuine work environment, while earning good money, making it easier for them to find relevant employment at the end of their studies.

Apprentices and trainees may be employed in hundreds of vocations within the timber, construction, forestry, furnishing and manufacturing industries across Australia.

Of 2014’s apprentice and trainee graduates, 84.1 per cent were employed after completion (National Centre for Vocational Education Research). By comparison, just 68.8 per cent of university graduates from the same year looking for full-time work found it within four months (Graduate Careers Australia data). And the median full-time income for a (VET) graduate is often substantially more than that of a uni graduate (National Centre for Vocational Education Research and Graduate Careers Australia).

Jake Wiggins, an apprentice with McKay Timbers, in Tassie, went straight on to do his Certificate III in Sawmilling and Processing through TABMA Apprentices and Trainees after finishing Year 12 in 2015. He not only enjoyed learning just about everything there is to know about different types of timber, but also being paid to do it! “I would recommend a timber traineeship to anyone who is interested in gaining a qualification while working full-time in a hands-on role,” says Jake. “I’ve learned skills for life.”

Choosing VET over university does not mean you will be stuck in one place either. "Training for a trade equips you for jobs all over the world,” Colin says. The VET sector currently provides training courses for nine out of 10 occupations predicted to have the greatest growth of new jobs over the next five years5. It is definitely equipping Aussies with the skills employers need.

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