Vocational education and training (VET) programs have featured in the Australian secondary school curriculum since the mid-1990s. Around this time, the Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling specifically recognised the provision of VET programs as a national goal. These programs were targeted at upper secondary students and originally aimed at increasing retention of less academically engaged youth in school and preparing students for employment and further training. However, about 20 years since the introduction of VET programs in schools, there is inconclusive evidence about the extent to which their aims and vision have been realised.
The Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation has conducted an investigation into the post-school education, training and employment pathways of NSW students who recently enrolled in at least one VET course as part of their senior secondary education. In this report, we investigate four research questions:
1. What are the characteristics of the secondary students who enrolled in VET and how do they compare to those of students who did not enrol?
2. Which characteristics independently predict secondary student enrolment in VET?
3. What are the post-school destinations of the secondary students who enrolled in VET and how do they compare to those of students who did not enrol?
4. Which features of VET delivery were associated with post-school destinations?
• We found that the characteristics of the secondary students who enrolled in VET were somewhat different to those of students who did not enrol. For example, there were substantial differences in Year 9 NAPLAN Numeracy and Reading scaled scores and student and school measures of socio-educational advantage.
• When we used a multivariable model to investigate the second research question, we found that most of the assessed characteristics independently predicted student enrolment in VET. That is, when we accounted for the relationships between the explanatory variables, we still
found independent relationships between most of the assessed characteristics and student enrolment in VET.
• When we compared secondary students who enrolled in VET to a group of students who had similar characteristics but did not enrol, we found that the students who did enrol were equally likely to much less likely to be not working or studying. These results provide evidence that the provision of VET as part of senior secondary education may help some students transition into work or study after they leave school.
• We found that differences in features of VET delivery (external provider versus VET at school, undertaking a work placement, and certificate level II versus III) were associated with different post-school destinations. For example, undertaking a work placement as part of a VET course decreased the likelihood that a student enrolled in VET would not go on to work or study.
This page provides a brief overview of findings from the 2018 NSW secondary students’ post-school destinations and expectations survey relating to Vocational Education and Training (VET) participation in school. Access the main 2018 report.
One-in-three respondents answered questions about VET participation – 1,160 Year 12 completers and 1,487 early school leavers.
• 81.9% of Year 12 completers and 75.3% of early school leavers said VET courses were available at school. A higher proportion of Year 12 completers said VET was available at school. Early school leavers are more likely to be unsure if VET was available.
• 34.1% of Year 12 completers and 41.5% of early school leavers started a VET course at school.1 Early leavers are more likely to have started a VET course at school than Year 12 completers.
• 46.3% of Year 12 completers and 48.2% of early school leavers said doing VET at school increased their interest in a career or job in this area.2 There is no difference between the proportion of Year 12 completers and early school leavers.
• 18.1% of Year 12 completers and 45.1% of early school leavers would have been interested in doing a VET course if available.3 Early school leavers would have been more interested in doing VET if available.
Most Year 12 completers who started a VET course finished the course and received a qualification. Early school leavers are more likely to not finish the VET course they start at school.4
Finished course and qualification
Finished course but not qualification
Did not finish
Most common reasons for not completing the VET qualification, despite completing the course, included no longer being interested in a job in the area and not needing the qualification for employment.
• 28.9% - no longer interested in job in area
• 14.7% - didn't need the qualification for employment
• 12.0% - no longer interested after completing school
• 20.5% - didn't need the qualification for employment
• 18.8% - no longer interested in job in area
• 14.6% - no longer interested after completing school5
82.8% of Year 12 completers and 85.4% of early school leavers agreed they benefitted from studying VET at school even though they did not finish the qualification.6
Almost two-thirds (64.0%) of early school leavers who started a VET course did not finish the course at school. Female early school leavers are more likely not to finish the course than male early school leavers (70.1% vs. 61.0%). Students often left school before they could complete the course.
• 42.5% - left school before finishing the course
• 23.4% - no longer fit with plans
• 10.2% - no longer interested in job in area
Among early school leavers who did not finish the course:
• 18% completed a related qualification after school
• 22% were currently studying for a related qualification
70.2% of Year 12 completers and 84.3% of early school leavers agreed they benefitted from studying VET at school even though they did not finish the course.7
1of those where VET was offered at school
2of those who started a VET course at school
3of those where VET was not offered at school or respondent was unsure
4For Year 12 completers, 2.9% of participants indicated that they did not know if they had finished the course or did not answer the question. For early school leavers, 4.3% of participants indicated that they either did not know if they had finished the course, or did not answer the question.
5males (18.8%) more likely to report this reason than females (7.6%)
6of those who finished the course but not the qualification
7of those who did not finish the course
A series of summary tables (PDF, 114kb) on government-funded Vocational Education and Training (VET) students in NSW from 2012-2016.
This second edition of the biennial State of Education in NSW 2016 report (PDF, 2MB) brings together a wealth of data, information and commentary across the whole education spectrum in NSW.
The report provides a recap of policy context, and covers outcomes in early childhood education, school education, vocational education and training and higher education for both government and non-government service providers. For each of the four sectors, the report highlights what is going well and where there is room for improvement.
Visit the 2016 State of Education website for an interactive view of the report's main highlights.
Author: Bert Evans AO
Evaluator company/business: NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training
URL or PDF: Download the Strategic Evaluation of Vocational Education and Training in Schools (PDF, 193kB)
Summary: The evaluation aimed to determine the value of vocational education and training in schools for students in terms of their participation, outcomes and satisfaction. Using a sample of responses from the Destination and Satisfaction Survey of 2004 HSC VET Students in New South Wales, the evaluation compared post school destinations of matched cohorts of students who undertook VET in schools with those who did not but did not attempt to establish casual attributions, using student opinions instead.
The Apprentices and trainees bulletin (PDF, 830kB) summarises information about the apprentices and trainees who are in training, commencing or completing a program of training. It provides information about the age and gender of trainees, their mode of study and the occupation and qualification they seek. This report includes VET delivered to school students by TAFE but excludes VET delivered to school students by school Registered Training Organisations as part of a VET in Schools program.
An annual snapshot of key Vocational Education and Training statistics (PDF, 200kB).
The 2013 VET students bulletin (PDF, 1MB) summarises information on the students participating in Vocational Education and Training (VET) in NSW, how they are undertaking their studies, what they are studying and the qualifications they seek. This report includes VET delivered to school students by TAFE but excludes those delivered by registered training organisations as part of a VET in Schools program.
This inaugural edition of the biennial 2014 State of Education report (PDF, 4MB) brings together a wealth of data, information and commentary about the full spectrum of education in NSW. It reports on activities and outcomes in early childhood education, school education, vocational education and training and higher education. It acknowledges and reports on the complex mix of government and non-government educational service providers in all four of these sectors.