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This research examines the merits of vocational education and training (VET) for secondary school students (VfSSS) in preparing students for work or further training from the perspectives of students, parents, industry stakeholders and employers. It also explores the models of provision used in government and non-government school sectors.

Case studies of a sample of government and non-government schools that have been successful in state, territory and or national training award competitions, or nominated as having successful programs, provide useful learnings for the VET sector. The study also extends previously published analysis (Misko, Chew & Korbel 2020) to examine the differences in employment and training outcomes between students undertaking VfSSS compared with other student cohorts, including students who attained an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) and those who did not, using data from the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY).

Key messages:

  • Students undertake VfSSS for a variety of, and sometimes multiple, reasons, indicating the broad appeal of VET courses for those who decide to take them. Reasons include getting a qualification, getting a full-time job when leaving school, starting an apprenticeship or traineeship, following a personal interest, and achieving an ATAR. Parents cited a similar range of academic and personal benefits for their child undertaking VfSSS.
  • Various models of VfSSS provision are favoured across jurisdictions and school sectors, including, for example, schools becoming registered training organisations (RTOs) in their own right. In many cases, schools use a combination of arrangements and partnerships with other schools to enable access to a broader range of offerings.
  • Schools with successful VfSSS display a strong commitment to VET, a broad range of offerings, good relationships with employers and access to purpose-built facilities for training. Key challenges for the case study schools involve recruiting teachers with industry expertise and ensuring that teachers maintain their industry currency.
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