New report calls for improvements to VET pathway for senior secondary school students

A new report commissioned by the Education Council has outlined recommendations for changes to better support senior secondary students as they prepare to transition from school into further education or the workforce.

The Review of senior secondary pathways into work, further education and training report, led by Professor Peter Shergold and an expert panel, has highlighted inconsistencies that are currently limiting the career options available to school leavers, particularly for those looking to access vocational education and training (VET) pathways.

According to the findings of the report, many educators were frustrated by the emphasis being placed on the final ranking score of school leavers, the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), as a measure of success, rather than preparing students with the necessary skills required to transition into the career path of their choice.

This incessant focus on ranking scores as a means of entering the higher education pathway has resulted in VET pathways being viewed as ‘second class’, a negative connotation that is impacting the number of school leavers choosing to go down this pathway.

Also identified in the report was the revelation that delivery of VET in schools was often of low and inconsistent quality and largely failed to integrate into the timetables of students, with academic courses and learning being prioritised.

While VET in schools must abide by clearly defined industry standards with courses that are identified as relevant and useful to the labour market, many schools that offer this education are limited due to a lack of resources, which makes it difficult for them to provide learning to a high, acceptable standard.

Identifying the need for major cultural and education changes at the senior secondary studies level to promote the VET pathway to school leavers, Professor Shergold and his team have raised a number of key recommendations, starting with access to high-quality education.

VET should only be provided in schools if the resources to provide the training to a high standard are available, the report recommended. This should include association with local employers and industry bodies to provide additional resources and work experience opportunities, or where resources are unavailable, students should be encouraged to access learning through an external registered training organisation (RTO).

Allocation of time spent undertaking VET while at school should also be reviewed, with the best interests of the student at the forefront of scheduling. Scheduling time spent in the workplace or with an RTO so it fits into the students schooling timetable, as is currently popular, is not productive to learning and often results in a poorer education experience for many students.

The report also recommended the implementation of a national strategy on vocational education and training in schools that promotes quality of learning, the needs of individual students and preparing school leavers with relevant skills necessary to thrive in the workforce

To read the full review of senior secondary pathways into work, further education and training report, click here.

29 July 2020