Karen Lomas
August 6, 2018

The qualifications that students need.


The qualifications that students need for long-term career success are not necessarily the same qualifications that their parents obtained and the Australian Government recognises the need for radical change.

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) exists to set the standards of knowledge, skills and understanding required at each level of tertiary education.

This framework has been criticised in a report titled; Contextual Research for the Australian Qualifications Framework Review. Now, Simon Birmingham has announced that, in light of the report’s findings, a major review is to be carried out to improve the; “transparency – a standard of equivalency… a hierarchical ladder of qualifications covering certificates I through to IV, diplomas, advanced diplomas, associate degrees, bachelor degrees, master degrees and doctorates.”

To translate what this means:

Transparency refers to making it absolutely clear what a student must obtain in terms of their secondary education qualifications in order to be eligible for a place in a particular course.

Standard of Equivalency means that the courses offered at higher education institutions must not vary or deviate in terms of the quality of outcomes for students.

A hierarchical ladder of qualifications is the range of offerings, post secondary schooling, in terms duration of course, qualifications needed to access a course and the distinctions therein. This is poorly understood and needs clear explanation by careers coaches.

Changing Qualifications

Simon Birmingham recognises that the tertiary qualifications on offer to Australian students need to change so as to develop broader skills and aptitudes than currently apply.

Students need to:

  • be adaptable – flexible in the face of changing employment conditions
  • be resilient – have skills to manage their careers despite insecure employment conditions
  • be connected – know how to actively network and maintain strong affiliations
  • have professional credentials – maintain professional accreditations and memberships


The review of tertiary courses, “also sets out to enable a student to obtain admission towards formal tertiary qualifications for work-based learning or micro-credentials.”

Micro-credentials are the experiences gained over time during periods of employment, or indeed developed as a volunteer. An tertiary course applicant may have received training in a range of skills, such as in: leadership or marketing seminars; team activities resulting in the organising of an event; proficiency in the use of softwear programs, or may simply have a strong record of successes, such as in increasing revenue or cost-cutting. These do not amount to a formal qualification, but do in fact demonstrate sound and proven aptitudes.

The report on the current tertiary education system is critical of the fact that such “recognition of prior learning” is inconsistent and poorly defined. This means that every tertiary institution views work-based skills differently. In turn this results in confusion on the part of applicants, who can have no idea that their work training may add sufficient weight to their course application to help them to be accepted.

Please click on the link to read the article from The Australian in full. Also, I urge you that if you are a student in years 10 to 12, already engaged in a tertiary course, between courses, or simply in employment, please contact me if you are looking for careers coaching. If you are the parent of a young adult who is school-age or beyond and you are looking for coaching for your child, I am able to help to offer clarity around tertiary courses and applications. Simply email me at [email protected] for further details of my professional career coaching services.






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