The suitable alternative only really became apparent to me when working for a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). I had long been informed that TAFE- or RTO’s were places for kids who didn’t do well at school; “if you get good grades you go to uni, if you don’t you go to TAFE”. Unfortunately, this song is still being sung at many schools around the country.
The difference between RTO’s is that the qualifications are designed around employers; so the industry is consulted as to what skills they want their staff and potential employees to have. Through a long and most likely convoluted process this then spits out a qualification. So these qualifications, you probably know them as Certificates and Diplomas are actually based on the skills your employers (and the industry) thinks are important; not some academic who may have never set foot in the real world.
The issue is finding a training organisation who can equip you with these skills. Whilst assessments are regulated in this sector you will find that the actual training is not. So there is a massive difference in the skills you might get from company X,Y and Z. What I do is ask the experience of the proposed trainer, that’s really where I’m going to get value.