Review into vocational and applied learning pathways in senior secondary schooling

The Victorian Budget 2020-21 invests $38 million to support students to access high-quality vocational and applied learning pathways and develop a new vocational pathway within the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE).

This is the first stage in implementing the transformative reform agenda recommended by a review into vocational and applied learning pathways for senior secondary students led by John Firth, former Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA).

The review consulted widely with stakeholders. The views, experiences and opinions that stakeholders shared in these consultations were a critical source of evidence that the review relied upon to develop its findings and recommendations.

Review recommendations

The review found major changes are needed to make sure all Victorian secondary students have access to high quality vocational training that meets their strengths and interests, an gives them the skills they need, and that leads them into further training, education and, ultimately, a great job.

It recommends:

  • Victoria should move to an integrated senior secondary certificate, with vocational education embedded in the VCE. This certificate will replace the existing standalone VCAL certificate. This will give students the opportunity to develop both academic and practical skills.
  • Vocational and VET training should be more closely aligned with Victoria’s growth sectors and local industry needs. This training should be available to every senior secondary student.
  • A new Foundation Pathways Certificate should be created to formally recognise the skills and achievements of students who are not ready to complete Year 12. This will support those students to make successful post-school transitions. This will be particularly important for students with a disability and additional needs, and for students experiencing personal challenges.
  • All students who fully or partially complete vocational and applied learning subjects should receive an enhanced Statement of Results to provide a full picture of their strengths, capabilities and achievements when they finish school.
  • Schools should receive more support to deliver vocational and applied learning. This can be achieved through improving the capability of teachers and reducing operational and administrative burdens on schools.

Victorian Government response

The Victorian Government has accepted in principle all of the review’s recommendations. They provide a set of transformative reforms that will:

  • lift the quality and perception of vocational education
  • help more students access high-quality programs, and
  • provide students with a vocational pathway that gives them the skills they need to move successfully into further training and jobs.

These reforms will build on the Education State agenda and significant investments already made to reforming vocational and applied learning through initiatives such as Head Start Apprenticeships.

Next steps

This is a long-term reform agenda with minimal immediate changes for schools. We will take a measured and consultative approach to these reforms.

The move to a single certificate will happen in stages. The first is the creation of a new vocational specialist pathway within the VCE, with the first cohort of students starting the new certificate in 2023. The next stage will create a fully integrated senior secondary certificate by 2025.

The Department and VCAA will consult with students, schools, universities, TAFEs, peak bodies, industry and employers and other service providers. Students, schools, families, training providers and employers will be given plenty of notice about what these changes mean for them and will be supported in the lead up to the introduction of changes to the certificate.

From next year, secondary schools will be supported to deliver improved vocational and applied learning pathways for students through the following ways.

Jobs, Skills and Pathways Coordinators

Funding to government secondary schools for dedicated Jobs, Skills and Pathways Coordinators who will provide advice and support for students choosing vocational and applied learning programs. They will work with training providers and employers to ensure that students get the most out of their learning and training.

In 2021, support will be provided to all government secondary schools with a senior secondary program that provide vocational education and training (VET) programs to their students.

From 2022, this will be extended to include all remaining government schools with a senior secondary program.

Jobs, Skills and Pathways Managers

Funding new Area-based Jobs, Skills and Pathways Managers that will help reduce the administrative burden of delivering vocational and applied learning and promote collaboration across schools.

From January 2021, the Managers will provide tailored support to government schools in the delivery of the specialist vocational pathway, VET, school based apprenticeships and traineeships (SBATs) including Head Start, career education, school industry engagement and school transitions.

Integrated senior secondary certificate

The integration of a vocational and applied learning pathway within the VCE will offer high-quality pathways for all students so they are better prepared for lifelong learning and can transition more smoothly through school, further education or training and work with the skills our economy needs.

Development work will begin in 2021 to support the introduction of a new vocational specialist pathway in the VCE. This will include taking the current strengths of VCAL and introducing elements such as sequential curriculum, graded assessment for higher level units and new subjects in areas of industry demand. The new certificate will commence in 2023.

As part of these reforms a new Foundation Pathways Certificate (currently Foundation VCAL) will also be introduced from 2023 to support students in all settings to make successful post-school transitions.

The same high standards that apply to VCE will be retained as part of the new senior secondary certificate, and during the transition phase.

The move to an integrated certificate by 2025 will provide all Victorian students with the opportunity to develop high quality academic and practical vocational skills that prepare them for the jobs of the future.

The certificate will give students flexibility to combine academic and applied learning in line with their interests, strengths and career aspirations. This approach will also prepare students for diverse post-school pathways, which may involve both university and higher-level VET qualifications.

Vocational and applied learning pathways review: Victorian Government response – November 2020

Find out more

For more information, email Pathways.reform@education.vic.gov.au