This new research shows that we shouldn’t think of VET for secondary schools’ students (VfSSS students) as a homogenous group.

Some, around 45%, are using it as part of an ATAR pathway. Others use these studies for a range of other futures.

About the research

This report, entitled “VET for secondary school students: post-school employment and further training destinations” and authored by NCVER’s Josie Misko, Emerick Chew and Patrick Korbel, looks at those secondary school students who did a VET for Secondary School Students program in 2011 and then investigates whether they are in work and/or further studies five years later in 2016. It also looks at “the extent to which their studies are linked to their employment and study destinations.” It uses data from the National VET in Schools Collection which has been linked to data from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Essentially, it reproduces and compares its findings with earlier research based on a similar cohort from 2006. It also draws on data from the Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth (LSAY).

What the report found

Simon Walker, the Managing Director of NCVER says:

“Choosing the right VET course and pathway as part of secondary schooling can make a substantial difference to students looking for a direct transition from school into an apprenticeship or full-time ongoing employment.”


“Also, most VfSSS [VET for Secondary School Students] students who’d gone on to complete post-school qualifications had done so at a higher level than their original qualification, demonstrating the important role VfSSS plays in motivating students to study further.”

In relation to the 2011 cohort, 78% were working. This was made up of 24% who were combining work with studies, and 54% who were working and not studying. It also found that another 10% were studying only and 13% were not working and not studying.

The students from both the 2011 and 2006 cohorts who were most successful in finding work were those who had undertaken apprenticeship or traineeship programs at school and just over a fifth of these cohorts enter the trades. Those entering the trades are, unsurprising, male dominated with 5 times the number of males over females. However, most VfSSS studies have a relatively low alignment between the intended occupations of the VfSSS qualification they did and their destination occupation.

When comparing VfSSS students with those that were not in VfSSS, the study found that VfSSS students were more likely to have full-time and permanent ongoing jobs; have jobs as technicians and trade workers (especially in the construction trades) or in hospitality, retail and service managers. Thye have also completed some form of VET qualification. Non VfSSS students “were more likely to be undertaking further studies and to have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher.”

The study found that:

“The higher the level of qualification undertaken as a VfSSS program, the more likely it was that students had subsequently completed a post-school qualification or were engaged in further studies five years later.”

Participation versus non-participation in VfSSS?

Using LSAY data the researchers found that there are statistically significant differences in educational outcomes between the students who undertook VfSSS studies and those who did not. For example, they point out that VfSSS students were more likely to have completed a Certificate I to IV as their highest qualification, including completing an apprenticeship. On the other hand, they were less likely than non-VfSSS students to have completed Year 12 or a bachelor’s degree or higher qualifications as their highest qualification.

If you have not already done so, take a look at the article in the last edition of VDC News: After the ATAR III: supporting young peoples’ passions and giving purpose