Training and work placements

Face coverings

Based on advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer, the Victorian Government announced that compulsory wearing of face coverings will extend to all of Victoria from 11.59pm on Sunday 2 August. This means everyone over the age of 12 must wear a face covering when they leave their home for one of four reasons:

  • study or work — if you cannot work from home
  • medical care and caregiving
  • shopping for essentials
  • daily exercise.

All secondary school students who are attending on-site for Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) or on-site supervision will need to wear a face covering.

For more information, visit: Face coverings in schools.

Operation of placements and training

The following can continue if health and safety considerations are met:

  • VET and work placements
  • School Based Apprentices and Trainees (SBATs) training and employment placements.

Schools are encouraged to be flexible to support VET and SBATs, including by:

  • using minimum mandatory requirements to ensure students can complete VCE and VCAL in 2020
  • refocusing timeframes for unit delivery to reflect remote learning versus practical work (VET/VCAL)
  • allowing extra time to enrol, deliver and assess competency for VET.

Continuing VET and SBATs

Formal training and on-the-job/workplace-based training can be separated. VET and SBATs may continue. The Victorian Government’s restrictions in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) on gatherings and businesses do not apply to Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), including government school RTOs.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has published guidance for RTO delivery during this time. This includes:

  • face-to-face delivery (with advice on physical distancing and hygiene measures)
  • online delivery.

Following advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer, from Tuesday 26 May 2020, Year 11 and 12 students will resume on-site learning at Victorian government schools. Year 10 students undertaking VCE Vocational Education and Training (VET) studies should also attend school for those classes where practicable. This supports the objective of minimising disruption to senior secondary studies as much as possible.

Where possible, RTOs should re-sequence training and assessment strategies to deliver theoretical training and assessment and focus on achieving minimum requirements for VCE or VCAL.

To monitor student progress, RTOs should assist schools by providing regular advice on Unit of Competency and nominal hour completion until the end of the school year.

VET advice

Schools have the option to support students to continue their Structured Workplace Learning (SWL) placements. This is provided the principal is satisfied that the:

  • duty of care to students can be met
  • obligations to provide for the health, safety and welfare of students as outlined in Ministerial Orders 55 and 38 are adhered to
  • appropriate health and safety measures are in place, consistent with advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer.

Deferral is an option where placements cannot safely continue.

Refer to advice from the Department of Health and Human Services on maintaining a safe learning environment for students.

Where a mandatory SWL placement needs to be deferred or cancelled, the school can consider substituting an alternative unit of competency from the VET certificate the student is undertaking that does not require a work placement. The TAFE or RTO will be able to provide details of relevant alternative units of competency.

SBATs and Head Start Apprentices and Trainees advice

SBATs including Head Start Apprentices and Trainees (HSATs) may continue to undertake their agreed work placements, where the student, student’s family and school are confident that the employer will be able to provide a suitable work environment with appropriate physical distancing and hygiene measures in place.

The employer, the RTO and the school should discuss whether a variation to the SBAT/HSATs training plan is needed to reflect the change in circumstances. Variations to the training plan should consider:

  • how far through the training plan the student has progressed
  • which units can be completed meaningfully without being in the workplace or at an RTO facility.

For more information, refer to advice from the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority.

Training delivered to senior secondary students at TAFE/registered training organisations (RTOs)

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has provided updated advice on physical distancing relevant to Registered Training Organisations delivering VET to secondary school students and all students directly enrolled at RTOs.

Physical distancing is recommended where possible in teaching and learning spaces operating VCE or VCAL classes, with these efforts backed up by other strategies to reduce the risk of transmission (e.g. hand hygiene and cleaning). This is especially important where physical distancing is not practical or appropriate.

This advice acknowledges that physical distancing is not always possible for hands on, on-campus training. Situations where physical distancing might not be practical could be where, for example, two people are required to lift a mannequin to apply bandaging, or to complete a hands-on automotive task.

In cases where physical distancing is not practical or appropriate, other strategies to reduce the risk of transmission include good hand hygiene, regular cleaning of high touch surfaces, and ensuring staff and students stay home if they are unwell. If staff and students have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) they should get tested, even if the symptoms are very mild. 

Where possible, training providers should use larger teaching spaces, organise or structure classes in a way that allows staff and students to maintain physical distancing, and limit movements and contacts between student and class groups.

Refer to Department of Health and Human Services advice on staying safe, and restrictions affecting work and study.

If physical distancing requirements are not able to be met

For courses where physical distancing cannot be maintained between school students and adult learners, RTOs will need to consider either delivering components remotely or suspending training until such time as restrictions have been lifted and training can resume as normal.

Wearing face coverings in Victoria

All secondary school students who are attending on-site for Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) or on-site supervision will need to wear a face covering. Find out more on the department Wearing face coverings in Victoria web page.

Exploring additional or flexible arragements

RTOs are asked by the Department to offer additional or flexible training arrangements in Term 3 and Term 4 so students can catch up on required training, as well as exploring options for delivery over the school holidays and into early 2021.

In partnership with the school, RTOs should consider changing a school student's VET enrolment, where the option exists to offer alternative VET units that contribute to the VET certificate that the student is currently enrolled in.

For example, instead of offering the salon assistant unit, a business studies unit may be substituted to enable the student to complete the VET program.

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority has further information on additional or flexible training arrangements.

Traineeships and apprenticeships suspended or cancelled due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Where students cannot meet the conditions of their training contract, the most immediate action is to suspend or cancel the training contract.

The maximum time allowed for suspension of a training contract will be extended from three to six months. This will allow the student to keep their connection to their employer and restart their workplace-based training to complete their SBAT or HSAT when work-based training becomes available.

Suspensions to apprenticeships must be mutually agreed by either:

  • the apprentice and employer
  • order of the VRQA.

The employer or trainee can suspend traineeships.

VET coordinators in schools, Head Start Coordinators, and GTOs should assist students to continue training with their RTO while their training contract is suspended. If training is to continue, the training plan should be extended to allow for skills to be embedded in the workplace, and employment hours to be completed later.

For more information, visit the VRQA website.

Priority support for other opportunities/placements

Employers should contact their Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider for advice about options for the student to cancel and restart their apprenticeship or traineeship with a new employer.

Where a suspension or cancellation happens, students should be supported to access other opportunities and employer placements through:

  • VET Coordinators in schools
  • Head Start Coordinators
  • Local Learning and Employment Network (LLEN)
  • Group Training Organisations (SBATs only).

Students with cancelled SBATs/HSATs can enrol in existing RTO training at VET Certificate II or III level to allow them access to VET training hours to support 2020 completion of their senior secondary certificate.

The VRQA provides more information on the cancellation of an apprenticeship or traineeship.

Finding new RTO providers if training delivery is cancelled

RTOs may be unable to continue to deliver training to SBATs/HSATs if it is impractical for certain units of competency to be delivered remotely, or safely in accordance with the advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer. Department regional and area-based pathways staff and LLENs can support schools to find new RTO and training options. Support should be provided by schools and RTOs to transfer credits to the same qualification with a new RTO, another qualification, or for use in VCE/VCAL.

Government schools can access the Know Your RTO online advisory tool to identify RTOs offering flexible delivery to school students.

ASQA has developed guidance on delivering training during coronavirus (COVID-19).

School flexibility to support VET and SBATs

Schools will use minimum mandatory requirements to ensure students can complete VCE and VCAL in 2020

Continuity of learning for VCE and VCAL students is a priority for secondary schools. Schools and RTOs may wish to consider timetabling changes to accommodate extra flexible training arrangements as coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are lifted. This could also include changing a student’s VET enrolment, where other VET units can be offered that contribute to the VET certificate that the student is enrolled in.

A small number of students undertaking VET may have the award of their VCE or VCAL delayed until the beginning of 2021 so they can complete mandatory practical or workplace learning requirements. This ensures they’re not disadvantaged by the lack of hands-on practice resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

Schools will change timeframes for unit delivery to reflect remote learning vs practical work (VET/VCAL)

Schools should consider working with RTOs to confirm how training and assessment can be changed to help students achieve the minimum requirements for VCE or VCAL.

More advice is available from the VCAA at their coronavirus (COVID-19) advice page for schools and educators.

Structured Workplace Learning Recognition (SWLR) can be used to provide credit towards VCE or VCAL.

Schools and RTOs may work in consultation to allow VET training to take place at school, rather than off-site at the RTO. This should be discussed and agreed at a local level, ensuring that appropriate physical distancing and hygiene measures are in place.

Whether training at school or off-site with an RTO, students must always be supervised by qualified staff who have a current VIT registration or Working with Children card. Where VET training is delivered on the school site, education support staff can provide student supervision to assist a teacher, and cover break times (provided they have access to support from a registered teacher).

An RTO may be delivering training at multiple school sites and seek to combine these classes into a single class delivered online. In this instance, the schools or the RTO could ask that the LLEN – with the help of the VET cluster facilitator – combines students from the various schools into a single timetabled online VET class, where it is possible to co-ordinate across school timetables.

Practical guidance for RTO delivery during this period – including face-to-face and online delivery – has been published by ASQA, the national VET regulator.

Schools and RTOs will be given extra time to enrol, deliver and assess competency for VET

As a result of the ongoing impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on school delivery of this year’s VCE program, the 2020 administrative dates and assessment schedule is being updated.

The VCAA will keep schools informed via a Notice to Schools.

Online tools for collaboration and learning

Refer to the Department’s requirements for using technologies to support flexible or remote teaching and learning.