VET in Schools' value criticised

Mary Fogarty
Research Officer

A recent National Vocational Education and Training Research Program research report is highly critical of the current VET in Schools programs.

Doubt remains about the extent to which VET in Schools is securing and enhancing transition to a broad range of post-school options, Entry to Vocations: The Efficacy of VET in Schools by Kira Clarke from Melbourne University states.

“Despite rapidly increasing participation in VET in Schools, the outcomes from vocational learning in Australian senior secondary certificates are still problematic,” the report states.

Ms Clarke states that as a broad observation, VET in Schools does not provide coherent, structured pathways to work and/or higher-level vocational education.

“Current senior secondary curriculum structures limit the effectiveness of VET in Schools programs in supporting student transitions to work and further study,” her report also states.

“At regional and school levels, VET in Schools provision is weakened by a lack of trust and investment from employers and industry, ongoing misconceptions about the validity and rigour of vocational programs in schools and a lack of capacity in schools to provide the necessary career advice to support effective vocational choices.”

The report also notes that the sporadic inclusion of substantial and coherent components of workplace learning in VET in Schools programs contributes to the perceived lack of credibility of qualifications and skills developed through VET in Schools. While students engaged in employment-based VET in Schools (that is, school-based apprenticeships or traineeships) benefit from clearer transitions pathways and stronger links with employers, for the majority of VET in Schools students, the effectiveness of their vocational programs does not match their own expectations and aspirations.

Clarke concludes that with increasing numbers of senior secondary students engaging in VET in Schools and expecting to benefit from both the skills acquisition and attainment of qualifications, it is of great concern that existing provision falls short in offering a coherent and effective pathway to post-school education and training and sustainable occupational careers.

In 2012, more than 230,000 Australian senior secondary students participated in VET in Schools.

This accounts for half of all VET undertaken by 15 to 19-year-olds. One in four 16-year-olds and one in five 17-year-olds participated in VET in Schools, with an additional 2 per cent of each age group engaged in school-based apprenticeships or traineeships.