What is VET delivered to secondary students?

Vocational and educational training (VET) provides senior school students with the opportunity to acquire skills in the workplace and knowledge through nationally recognised qualifications from industry-developed training packages or accredited courses while they are still at school.

VET delivered to secondary students (VETDSS), also called VET for secondary school students (VETfSSS), is nationally recognised, is the same as VET delivered in non-school settings, and held to the same quality standards. Once a student is assessed as competent against the nationally agreed standards required to perform effectively in the workplace, they are awarded a full or partial VET qualification issued by a registered training organisation (RTO). The term VET in schools (VETiS) was initially used to describe these programs. However, not all VET for secondary students is delivered in school settings.

School students undertaking VET have the opportunity to complete their secondary education with:

  • a senior secondary certificate education (SSCE) qualification
  • a university entrance score or equivalent
  • practical work skills and a VET qualification up to a Certificate III.

VET programs delivered to secondary students aim to increase the chance of students successfully moving to further education, training or work.

Young people who complete school and get their Year 12 certificate or equivalent vocational qualification have a better chance of completing further study or training, getting a job, being paid significantly higher wages and are better placed to tackle future challenges (Source: Department of Employment and Workplace Relations).

How is VET delivered to secondary students?

Students undertaking VET courses may complete a full qualification, or some units of competency within a qualification. They may complete it while still at school or after they have graduated.

Delivery of VET can be in the school, at an external RTO's premise, in a workplace or online, though regardless of delivery, the same quality standards apply. Options range from programs of a couple of hours a week to part-time school-based apprenticeships (see below), where students become trainees and employees.

Students may also be able to undertake VET through a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship, which enables them to combine school studies; paid work and on-the-job learning with an employer; and structured learning and assessment delivered by an RTO.

School-based apprenticeships or traineeships (SBAT)

A school-based apprenticeship or traineeship provides secondary students with a unique opportunity to combine a VET qualification consisting of a paid employment contract as an apprentice or a trainee and off-the-job vocational training, with their SSCE. In some situations, it may also directly count towards their SSCE. A school-based apprenticeship or traineeship can lead to a VET qualification which may be completed either during the senior school years or after secondary school has concluded. Similar to other VET programs for secondary school students (e.g. training packages or accredited courses), these apprenticeships or traineeships can be done at school, at an RTO's premise and/or in the workplace.

School-based apprenticeships and traineeships provide the clearest line of sight to a job, are highly valued by employers and are often identified as the preferred pathway for students to transition from school to work, particularly in the trades.

A school-based apprentice or trainee also continues vocational learning and non-VET subjects as part of their SSCE, which can develop their skills in other areas of benefit to the employer such as critical thinking, teamwork, or advanced mathematics.

Australian School-based Apprenticeship (ASBA) is the umbrella term for both school-based apprenticeships and school-based traineeships. Prior to 2006, School-based New Apprenticeship (SBNA) was used.

Participation in secondary VET programs

NCVER’s VET in Schools collection covers VET undertaken by students as part of heir senior secondary certificate of education (SSCE). In 2021, there were  251 200 school students doing VET; 20 500 school-based apprentices and trainees and 230 700 students undertaking other VET in Schools programs (Source: VET in Schools 2021).

ANTA VET in Schools program

The Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) VET in Schools program, introduced in 1997, was a concerted national drive to forge stronger links between schools, the VET sector and industry. It aimed to lift the level, quality and diversity of VET programs for secondary school students under the umbrella of the National Training Framework. The Allen Consulting Group evaluation of the program, reported in Review of the ANTA VET in Schools program: final report to the Australian National Training Authority, found a substantial growth in participation since the inception of the program, from 60 000 in 1996 to 167 000 in 2000.

Where to go for more information

How to cite this overview

NCVER (National Centre for Vocational Education Research) 2022, Getting to know VET overview: VET delivered to secondary students, VET Knowledge Bank, NCVER, Adelaide, <http://www.voced.edu.au/vet-knowledge-bank-getting-know-vet-overviews-vet-schools>.

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