Vocational education programs delivered to students in secondary schools, historically called ‘VET in Schools’ programs (COAG Education Council 2014), were established with the specific aim of enabling students to undertake both nationally accredited vocational education and training (VET) programs (including part-time apprenticeships and traineeships) alongside programs that enable students to complete their senior secondary certificate of education. Such programs lead to nationally recognised VET qualifications. Today these programs are referred to as ‘VET delivered to secondary school students’, signifying that they are the same as all other VET programs (COAG Education Council 2014). In 1996, school-based apprenticeships were also introduced for secondary school students undertaking VET. These involved the students starting a part-time apprenticeship while still at school and receiving payment for that part of their time spent in the workplace.

From the perspective of industry, one of the key purposes of VET (including in secondary schools) is ensuring that students develop the generic and industry-specific skills and knowledge required by industry for its potential workforce. For schools, such labour-market purposes are not the only reasons for secondary schools supporting VET; they are also interested in helping students to develop knowledge and understanding of the world of work in general, explore a range of career options and progress through and complete their other educational subjects.

The effectiveness of VET programs is an important policy issue because of the underlying premise that vocational education and training equips people with the skills to get a job or progress through a job. Moreover, the contributions such programs make to the uptake of the non-specific skills required for entry into employment and for participation in changing workplaces and occupations is also a significant area of interest and concern. To date, there has been little information on the longer-term outcomes of secondary school students who have undertaken a VET program.

In this report we focus on the first phase of a project that aims to understand the value of VET delivered to secondary school students, especially for their post-school employment and training pathways. In this first part we provide a snapshot of the types of programs undertaken by students, as well as trends in participation. We also report on an investigation of the extent to which training packages assist in the development of non-technical or generic skills.

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