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What is vocational education and training?

Vocational education and training - otherwise known as VET - is learning that directly relates to getting a job.

Your qualification is nationally recognised and accredited, and courses are updated all the time to make sure you’re learning the latest skills and techniques.

VET can help you:

  • get ready for work while you’re still in school
  • start work for the first time
  • restart work after an absence
  • train for a new job
  • advance your skills
  • provide a pathway to university.

Some vocational education and training courses can be done as apprenticeships, which means you can earn a wage while you learn.

What career do you want?

Because VET is designed to teach you what you need to know to do a specific job, you should start by deciding what career you want. If you’re not sure where to start, try exploring your career options.

The experience has been absolutely fantastic

Brooke, Groundskeeping apprentice, Adelaide Oval

VET offers thousands of qualifications in all kinds of careers and industries

You can study certificates I, II, III and IV, diplomas and advanced diplomas. The content of these qualifications depends on what you’re studying, but basically:

  • Certificate I teaches you basic functional knowledge and skills to undertake work
  • Certificate II teaches you to undertake mainly routine work
  • Certificate III teaches you to apply a broad range of knowledge and skills in varied contexts to undertake skilled work
  • Certificate IV teaches you to apply a broad range of specialised knowledge and skills in varied contexts to undertake skilled work
  • Diploma teaches you to apply integrated technical and theoretical concepts in a broad range of contexts to undertake advanced skilled or paraprofessional work
  • Advanced Diploma teaches you to apply specialised knowledge in a range of contexts to undertake advanced skilled or paraprofessional work

To give you an idea of how this works in the real world, most apprenticeships are at a Certificate III level, and that qualifies you to work independently in your chosen field.

Did you know?

The term apprenticeship can refer to an apprenticeship or a traineeship.

How much do courses cost?

If you want to study a course that will give you skills South Australian employers need – jobs with a shortage of people or jobs in new industries that are developing – you may be able to pay reduced course fees. This is called subsidised training.

If your training is subsidised, the South Australian Government pays part of your course fees for you. The money goes straight to your training provider, so you can focus on your training.

The course search will tell you if the course you're interested in is subsidised. All training providers will have the course fees on their websites to let you know how much the course will cost. The course fee covers the cost of course delivery, including items that are needed as part of the teaching and assessment.

Training providers will confirm whether you can access subsidised training, but we've put together an eligibility checker to give you an idea of what to expect.

What else might I need to pay for?

Other costs to consider when beginning training can include:

  • books
  • equipment, materials, and uniforms
  • food
  • transport
  • accommodation
  • child care.

Concessions, allowances and student loans are available to help you with your training costs.

Choosing a training provider

You get to choose who delivers your training.

A wide range of public and private training providers – like TAFE, adult and community education providers, group training companies, private training companies and high schools – can deliver subsidised training.

The course search will tell you whether the training provider you’re interested in delivers subsidised training.

You choose

who delivers your training


are often called RTOs (Registered Training Organisations)


of training providers in South Australia

There’s a lot to think about when choosing a training provider, including:

  • How are they delivering the training? Do you need to go to a classroom or can you study online?
  • What supports does the training provider have if you need extra help with your studies?
  • How much will the training cost, and what is the refund policy if you have to withdraw from your course?

If you have any questions before signing on with a provider, you can chat with us online now or call us on 1800 673 097.

Preparing for study

Do you want to start vocational education, but need help with your reading, writing and maths? There are courses to help you prepare.

All training providers will conduct a short assessment before you enrol in a training course. If you need to develop your foundation skills – reading, writing, speaking, maths, computer skills, workplace skills – your training provider will let you know.

If you’re eligible for subsidised training, you may be able to do foundation skills courses and bridging units for free or at a reduced price.

Bridging units help cover gaps in your existing knowledge or skills to make sure you don’t fall behind.

Not ready to talk to a training provider yet?

If you’re not ready to talk to a training provider yet, an Adult and Community Education (ACE) course may be right for you.

ACE courses are an alternative to traditional formal learning. They are designed to help you connect with your community and improve your learning skills. They can be a first step towards other training and education opportunities.

Studying VET at school

VET can help you kick start your career while you’re still at school, and can even count towards your SACE.

You can study almost anything while you’re still at school, you just need to talk to your VET Coordinator.

I feel like I’m getting a head start by doing it while I’m still in school

Erin, school-based apprentice chef

Pathways to university

Many VET qualifications provide a pathway to university.

Some qualifications at a Certificate III or higher may help you gain entry or transfer into selected university degrees, even if you didn’t complete Year 12. You might even get credit for what you’ve already learned.

Some training providers also have formal university entry pathways. To find out if the VET course you’re interested in can lead to a degree, speak to your training provider or university.

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