Monday, December 30, 2013

The high value of a vocational qualification!

So, you did not receive notification of acceptance in to the university of your choice.  It is not the end of the world – there are massive opportunities for you to gain a vocational qualification and here are some of the reasons why you should consider working towards a nationally recognised qualification:

1.    Vocational qualifications are highly valued by employers.  They indicate that you have practical know-how that will make a real difference to their business.  Vocational education in Australia is very well regarded internationally because of the high standards set by providers – and this gives you a strong entry point for employment as well as self-employment.

2.   Nationally recognised qualifications can also provide you with entry in to the academic field.  They are a way for you to test out whether you are genuinely interested in the career of your choice and even if you stop mid-way, you will accumulate credits along the way.

3.   There is a very wide choice of qualifications and you can also mix and match to a certain extent through your selection of elective units.  This provides you with an entry point in to your profession and determining what the marketplace is looking for in terms of skills sets:  have a look at the wide range of qualifications that are available:

4.    If you were not the top student in your HSC year for any number of reasons, working towards a nationally recognised qualification is generally a more gentle entry point in to the world of study.  Although the standards are high, you have an option of commencing with a Certificate IV before progressing on to the Diploma level.  This builds your confidence and enables you to adopt a building block approach.  Because the units are usually portable, you could even gain more than 1 qualification.

Here are some dual qualifications that ensure that you have a wider range of options as you select your career:

5.    Many top executives and managers today will tell you how a vocational qualification got them their start in life.  It looks good on a CV because it allows employers to see that you are someone who makes an effort and has a practical focus to bring to the workplace.

There are options for qualifications that enable you to find direct entry in to employment such as the Diploma of Workplace Health and Safety:

6.   Nationally recognised qualifications are not based on pass/fail.  You are either competent or not yet competent and this provides you with many other opportunities to have a go at presenting the required evidence for assessment.  There are generally no formal exams and so for those who don’t perform well in those types of high pressure situations, you are not usually required to sit for exams.

Remember – no one can ever take your education away from you!  No matter what career path you choose, as you learn and grow, and learn some more, you are setting yourself up to hold a unique position. 

For more information on VET FEE-HELP, go to

Or call 1300 FEE HELP.

Factors to consider when choosing a future career – besides aptitude….

When selecting your most appropriate pathway to create the right entry point to the career of your choice, consider more than just your aptitude for that direction in life.  There are so many other factors to take in to consideration – here are just a few items to add to your ‘what career path do I choose for myself’ checklist:

We sometimes hold an ideal image in our minds of a particular career – which sometimes has absolutely no relation to the reality of that career.  We might dream of caring for animals and playing with them until they are well, when in fact the reality of life as a vet is far from being as romantic as this.

Consider living in the shoes of someone in the career of your choice to get a real feel for what it is like to live and breathe that role.  Be realistic about what the role entails – we all have good days and not so good days at work.  Overall though, there does need to be more that attracts you to a career than detracts you from entering that field.

2.   Set yourself up for success by beginning with the end in mind.  In other words, have your goal noted at the end of a page, in both words and created in to images so that it is really clear and powerful.  Then think of all the realistic steps you will need to take in order to arrive at this end point.

It is worthwhile spending the time to paint, draw, collage this end image and then fill in all the stages that will ensure that you reach your goal.  Sometimes, we are excited by the end point and have to take a deep, calm breath as we realise the amount of time and energy that is needed to get us to where we want to be.

     It is not always easy to take on feedback from others – parents, well -meaning friends and family.  As long as their feedback is provided in a constructive way, they could well be providing you with information that might be really useful in determining which direction to follow.  We all have blind spots and if we are able to open our ears and our mind to genuinely hearing the feedback we receive, this will ensure that we have a more balanced approach to finding the right career. 

If they are not providing you with the feedback you need, have the guts to ask for it.  It does not always come across as music to your ears and in some cases it might be harsh.  It will however give you some self-insights and might have an impact on the decisions you take.

4. We don’t know what we don’t know!  We might not be able to draw on expert advice and we might not even be able to interview others who currently do sit in the roles we aspire to one day holding ourselves.  We do however have the responsibility to collect as much data and as many statistics and documented details as possible.  It is up to us to do the research and make decisions based on factual information and not just on gut feel or for other reasons.

Find out what the pass / fail rates are of courses. Know what other students are saying about various institutions.  Maintain files of information on salary levels, demand in the workplace for skills sets and anything related to future prospects.

Here is some useful information on a range of management courses that are available through VET FEE-HELP:

5.   Be aware that the world is always changing.  We live in times of huge complexity and ambiguity and jobs that did not exist a few years ago, are now exciting opportunities.  Job titles that were up until now unheard of, are commonly used in organisations.  Keep in touch with what is happening in the business context so that your range of choices is wider than you ever imagined.

To achieve this, you need to be reading and listening to news and current affairs programs. Use your network to interview people who are working in the field you would like to enter to find out what is really happening there on the ground.  You will be able to develop a strong picture of what is happening in various sectors of the economy and where the best opportunities lie.

Vocational qualifications are an excellent way of building your confidence and providing you with a solid grounding for future learning opportunities.

6.   Don’t be put off if you have not yet discovered your passion in life.  Yes, one day you will find that dream job that keeps your blood pumping well.  If you are not lucky enough for that to happen to you immediately, be courageous enough to try out many areas until that right pathway emerges.  Most of us are fortunate enough to be able to transfer credits or move in to a new discipline. Yes, it might cost you some time - and some money.  But this is a small price to pay in the bigger scheme of things as you seek a totally fulfilling career that brings you the type of job satisfaction that you deserve.

And hey, what is wrong with changing several times until there is something that is a good, strong fit with who you are.  There are very few circumstances where career paths are set in concrete.  Give it a full go – but have the courage to switch out if you need to.  And there are many payment options as well including VET FEE-HELP:

For further assistance and other useful tips, call us on 1300FEE HELP.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Expecting a low ATAR in this year’s HSC? Don’t Panic - Follow Danny Bielik’s Tips

On the 2GB Courses and Careers Show of 5 December, MCI’s Danny Bielik discussed tips for those who are concerned that the release of their HSC results might mean missing out on their preferred place at uni.

“Don’t panic,” is Danny’s key message.  “In 2013, there are a myriad of ways of gaining a tertiary qualification and if you read the tips on my blog you stand a very good chance of being able to gain access to your preferred course anyway.”

  1. Consider other options – there are over 100 private providers of degrees in Australia.  Every one of them is licensed by the Government body TEQSA – the same body that accredits universities. Often, the private Higher Education Providers can offer a more specialised qualification and approach and ATAR may not be all they look at for entry.  Many of these providers offer the Federal Government’s FEE-HELP loan scheme, enabling you to defer your fees in the same way as HECS.  For more information, visit peak bodies COPHE or ACPET
  2. Choose a vocational course - ask yourself – why did you choose uni anyway? Will it get you the best result in the workplace or would a Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification be more applicable?  There are thousands of qualifications that are considered Nationally Recognised Training at a range of Government-accredited providers (including MCI, of course).  You can study a Certificate, Diploma or Advanced Diploma course and often get access to the Government’s VET FEE-HELP loan scheme to defer your fees.  Most providers don’t require a significant ATAR to enter, as they can offer training and mentoring that you can’t get at university.  Many then allow you to continue on to a degree, which leads us to… 
  3. Choose a pathway – there are a range of providers who allow you to complete a VET qualification as a precursor to getting into higher education / university.  Do a Diploma or Advanced Diploma for a year and it often counts as the equivalent of a year at university.  PLUS, you get the extra qualification.  There are a range of specialty pathway providers such as Navitas or Insearch that specialise in these approaches, plus many vocational providers such as MCI have arrangements with unis.  VET FEE-HELP is also offered by many providers – so no fees up-front.
  4. Same uni – different course – if you have your heart set on a particular course at a particular university – again, don’t panic! Often universities will allow you to do an internal transfer. So you can start in a more generalised degree programme, say Bachelor of Arts and then after your first year, transfer to your preferred degree.  Choose your modules carefully in your first year and it may not require any extra time. Please contact your preferred university for more details. 
  5.  Online study – Just about every course is available online now – including a range of vocational qualifications and higher education degrees.  Online study is great for people who want to work whilst they study as it is the ultimate in flexibility. And with online study, a good provider would offer mentors who can help you progress through your course. Tutors also help you with difficult course work and your classmates are only a click away in virtual meeting places.

The bottom line is that there are now more options than ever to pursue your dream in your own way. So please don’t panic, if you don’t get the mark you wanted – explore these other options.  They may work out better in the long run anyway.

Danny Bielik is a former Ministerial Adviser and CEO of Management Consultancy International.  Danny presents the Courses and Careers Show each Thursday on Nights with Steve Price.  You can listen to the Courses and Careers Show on 873 2GB in Sydney and  Podcasts are on the 2GB website and iTunes.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Key learnings from Ignition Conference 2013 - and what HR needs to heed!

Ignition 2013, the Future of Digital. New York City.

When global thought leaders in all matters relating to anything on-line speak – we listen!  

The line-up at this year's conference included Elon Musk, extreme entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla Motors, the first fully electric car taking the USA by storm; Business Hip Hop label magnate Russel Simmons who is revolutionising the world of entertainment through his approach to launching new singers; Executive editor of Linked In, Dan Roth; the CMO of Salesforce, Mike Lazerow; Lewis D’Vorkin, Chief Product Officer of Forbes and Chris Peacock of CNN.

So what did some of the most powerful players in the digital landscape say that have an impact on HR and on learning and development

1. Ignore what is happening on-line at your peril.  There are nearly 3 billion people on-line and most of the world’s money is already on line.  There are over a billion smart phones sold and people spend about an hour a day on their phone.  The desktop market is shrinking and mobile and video are booming.

The world is now multi-screen and Facebook reaches more people than free TV….  

Watch out for the next big thing:  wearables such as watches or Google glasses; networked houses and remote control lives.

For more facts and interesting statistics and data:

2. Consider carefully how you make use of social media.  It is a great way to humanise your brand and to share information.  Find the channel that suits you best.  This is certainly something for HR and L and D professionals to consider as we raise our own internal brand equity.

3. In order to get closer to the customer, think about on-line ways of engaging them.  One of the most watched adverts of the year on Youtube was the Dove soap campaign:  it inspired women to believe that they are beautiful.

In the case of HR and L and D, it leads us to consider how we can get closer to our stakeholders.  We also need to re-imagine the experience that our team, management teams and staff have with us.  Can we emulate what happens in a Burberry store where they know who you are and what your buying preferences are as you step in.  Very different from an Apple store experience where no one knows who you are.  Which possibly explains why the CEO of Burberry is joining Apple…

4. When it comes to innovation, here are some great lessons shared:

Most speakers freely acknowledged how many mistakes they make –“we get it wrong at least half the time.” Sometimes, it is simply right idea and wrong time.  Be prepared to kill things quickly if they are not working and also resurrect things that could work in different circumstances.

You also don’t need to be totally certain that your idea is going to eventuate or have a positive outcome. You do need to be reasonably sure that your ideas are supported by data and not simply blind faith. 

Launching things on line does give you the ability to be more nimble and creative and make changes as you go.
A sign of a good company is the ability to recover once you hit the brick wall.  Do our HR teams have that ability?

5. Some great one-liners that have implications in terms of how we think about our roles and strategy within HR:

  • “Google is now bigger than both the magazine and newspaper industries.”
  • “As a brand your goal should be to stop telling your own story. Inspire others to tell it on your behalf.”
  • "If you unveil something new, do it in an entertaining way."
  • "Don't expect companies to be perfect.  We know we are not best at.... But we are great at....  In this way we humanise our brand."
  • "There is no more time for the perfect message. Now we need to get the message to the right person to the right time." 
    Denise and radical entrepreneur, Elon Musk