When it comes to school students deciding on their desired career pathway, whether that may include Academic Education or Vocational Education and Training (VET), students may benefit from asking themselves an important question, what is the best pathway for me based on my interests and skills set?
Let’s take a look at the statistics
The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) recently released data summarising VET undertaken by school students as a component of their senior secondary certificate of education (SSCE). VET in Schools offers students two primary options: undertaking school-based apprenticeships and traineeships; or selecting VET subjects and courses as part of their school curriculum, that is also referred to as ‘other VET in Schools programs’.
The publication establishes that in 2020, VET in Schools students increased by 2.3%, in comparison to the previous year. The statistics also demonstrate that in 2020, there were:
- 241 200 VET in Schools students
- 17 800 school based apprentices and trainees, 7.4% of which are VET in Schools students
- 223 300 students undertaking other VET in Schools programs, representing 92.6% of all VET in Schools students
How graduates may benefit from VET
The Skilling Australia Foundation report highlights the integral role VET plays in the Australian education system. Along with delivering workplace-specific skills and knowledge, it continues to drive excellent results and outcomes for its students, industry and the economy at large.
The report considers the benefits that VET provides to students, that being a faster, more cost-effective pathway to complete a qualification and enter the workforce.
Further points made include:
- VET graduates earn wages that are comparable to University graduates
- VET graduates have a high employment rate in comparison to undergraduates, with more then 78% of VET graduates employed after training
- VET courses have adapted more readily to changing workforce needs
According to recent studies, secondary school students who undertake school-based apprenticeships and traineeships are more likely to obtain full-time and permanent employment five years after their studies. Also, students may be more likely to obtain employment in an occupation relevant to their VET for secondary school students (VfSSS) course, in comparison to students that didn’t undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship as part of their studies.
ASQA Regulatory Approach to VET in Schools
ASQA has considered the pressures that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on the VET sector when determining their Regulatory Strategy 2020-22. Providers have been faced with significant financial pressures and forced to adapt to this new way of life.
VET in Schools is recognised for it’s vital role in:
- Catering to the diverse interests of students
- Increasing school retention
- Providing students with opportunities to develop industry-specific technical skills and generic skills to better prepare them for the future
ASQA is responsible for doing their best to ensure providers that deliver VET in Schools are providing quality outcomes for school students.
Although there are many significant benefits to VET in Schools, the review highlights several areas in the delivery of VET in Schools that may need continuous improvement including:
- Providing students with accurate information to help them make informed decisions
- Ensuring teachers, trainers and assessors are appropriately qualified
- Aligning training and assessment delivery with the relevant training packages
- Access to adequate learning and assessment resources to better support students
- Timely certification of students on completion of training
- Adequacy of partnering arrangements
Looking to the Future
“The world is moving at a tremendous rate; going no one knows where. We must prepare our children, not for the world of the past, not for our world, but for their world – the world of the future.” – John Dewey, radio broadcast, early 1940s.
The Looking to the Future report details that the younger generation of today are increasingly anxious about the uncertainty of their futures and face a wide range of challenges, many of which may be a result of globalisation, technological change and automation.
COVID-19 has presented the world with profound disruptions and a sense that normal life may never be fully restored. Now more than ever, school leavers need to be employable, flexible, adaptable and confident to meet the demands of this new normal.
The recent NSW curriculum review, Nurturing Wonder and Igniting Passion: Designs for a future school curriculum, strongly supports the notion that change is required and a continued shift toward more equally respected pathways, with a focus on overall generic skills and breaking down the academic-vocational divide, is really important.
Year13, Co-Founder and CEO, Will Stubley, explains in the recent Gen Z webinar “The option for higher education is still there at the end – it doesn’t have to be a VET vs Uni discussion. It’s about how they integrate and what’s the best pathway for each individual to get to where they want to get to – what do you want to be and how can you get there the quickest?”
The younger generation of today may need a broader and mixed skills set that focuses on the continued enhancement in communication, problem solving and digital skills, along with critical and creative thinking, in order to meet the rapidly changing demands of the future.
A robust, valued and dynamic VET sector provides VET in School students with the workplace-specific skills and knowledge to support them throughout their desired career pathway. It may also play an important role in tackling youth unemployment, along with addressing the national skills shortage. VET is here to stay and we couldn’t be more excited!