National Report on Schooling in Australia 2012

Senior schooling and youth transitions

6.1 Participation in vocational education and training including VET in Schools

The Australian vocational education and training (VET) sector provides nationally consistent vocational training and qualifications for those entering or already engaged in the workforce. Competency standards (units of competency) for vocational qualifications in different industries and occupations are set out in nationally endorsed training packages, which also define the qualifications in each industry. The requirements for each level of VET qualification are set out in the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), which also sets out guidelines for Senior Secondary Certificates of Education (Year 12 qualifications) and qualifications in the higher education sector. Qualifications delivered through the VET sector range from Certificate I (AQF level 1) to Graduate Diploma (AQF level 8).

Secondary school students in all states and territories are able to undertake VET courses as part of their school program (VET in Schools courses), usually in the senior years of schooling as part of the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in each jurisdiction. Secondary students can also take VET courses in addition to their school studies, or move from school to full-time VET study or a combination of part-time VET and work.

Until 2008, the proportion of senior secondary students undertaking VET in Schools courses was a key performance measure (KPM) for schooling. From 2009, this KPM was broadened to all 15 to19-year-old VET students (whether or not they were enrolled in school) as a proportion of the 15 to 19-year-old population. The measure of participation adopted is the completion of at least one unit of competency in a VET qualification at AQF Certificate II or above.¹

This measure, KPM 1(e) in the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2012, includes VET in Schools students, but also includes school-aged students who have left school and are still engaged in education and training through a campus of technical and further education (TAFE) or other registered training organisation (RTO). Broadening the KPM is consistent with the Compact with Young Australians and the National Youth Participation Requirement, which came into force across all jurisdictions in January 2010. These initiatives are outlined in Part 2.5: Initiatives and achievements – supporting senior years of schooling and youth transitions.

Table 6.1 shows the Australian data for this KPM for the period 2009–12. Part 9: Additional Statistics Table 20 shows state and territory data for this KPM for 2012. 

Number and proportion of 15 19-year-olds who


A successfully completed unit of competency/module includes competencies with an outcome of competency achieved/pass/recognition of prior learning granted.

The KPM is derived by calculating student numbers in the 15–19 year age group as a percentage of the
estimated residential population in the corresponding group. The estimated residential population of
15–19-year-olds in 2009–11 has been revised by the Australian Bureau of Statistics based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. For this reason, data for the 15–19-year-old population for 2009, 2010 and 2011 and for the KPM for 2009 and 2010 differ from data published in previous editions of this report.

Sources: NCVER, National VET in Schools Collection 2009–12; NCVER, National VET Provider Collection 2009–12; NCVER, School-aged youth in vocational education and training 2012; ACARA, National Report on Schooling in Australia, 2011; ABS, Cat. No. 3101.0, Australian Demographic Statistics, Dec. 2012

See also Part 9: Additional Statistics Table 20



Proportion of 1519-year-olds successfully

In addition to KPM 1(e), Education Ministers approved two program measures for young people’s participation and attainment in VET, disaggregated by industry area and by qualification level. These are reported for 2012 in Tables 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4.

VET program measure 1 
Number of 1519-year-olds who have successfully 
Table 6.3 Number of 1519-year-olds who have

Qualification completions for 1519-year-olds by

As stated above, KPM 1(e) and the VET program measures include all 15–19-year-old students. The information below refers to students who are identified as VET in Schools students. For the purposes of the VET in Schools data collection, these are students who are undertaking VET as part of a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.² These data are not restricted to Certificate II or above or to students who have successfully completed at least one unit of competency.

VET in Schools includes school-based apprentices and trainees. These are students who, as well as undertaking an accredited VET qualification as part of their school studies, have entered into a formal contract of part-time paid employment and training with an employer. Typically, these students undertake part of their traineeship or apprenticeship while at school and complete it once they have left school. Table 6.5 shows the number of 15–19- year-old school students undertaking VET in Schools programs each year 2008–12 with school-based apprentices and trainees disaggregated.

Number of 1519-year-old students undertaking VET

In 2012 there was a 2.5 per cent increase in the number of 15–19-year-old³ VET in Schools students, from approximately 236 thousand in 2011 to approximately 242 thousand in 2012. This included a 24 per cent increase in the number of school-based apprentices and trainees with this number recovering from significant falls in 2009 and 2010.

The VET qualifications attempted by school students are most commonly at AQF Certificate II, but there is an increased policy emphasis on encouraging participation in AQF Certificate III and above, especially for school-based apprentices and trainees. In 2011 there was a noticeable shift from lower to higher level qualifications. This was even more pronounced in 2012, with a 36.4 per cent rise in the number of students undertaking Certificate III qualifications and a 23.5 per cent fall in the number undertaking Certificate I.4

Due to time constraints, VET in Schools courses do not necessarily lead to the achievement of a full AQF VET qualification. Where they do not, students assessed as competent in one or more units of competency receive a Statement of Attainment towards a certificate or other qualification and are eligible to complete the full qualification post-school.

Tables 21 and 22 in Part 9: Additional Statistics provide extra information on the participation and attainment of young people in VET, including VET in Schools, in 2012 and for the period 2008–12. Further detailed information is contained in the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) publications Australian vocational education and training statistics: young people in education and training 2012and School-aged youth in vocational education and training 2012.


¹ The specification of the successful completion of a unit of competency in the KPM is a marker for genuine participation in a VET course (as opposed to an initial formal enrolment which is not followed through). It is not intended that the KPM be regarded as a measure of attainment.

² In most, but not all, jurisdictions these are also students who are enrolled in secondary schools.

³ Approximately ten thousand students recorded in the VET in Schools data collection 2012 who were outside the 15 to 19-year-old age range are excluded from this data.

4 Part 9: Additional Statistics Table 22 drawn from NCVER, Australian Vocational Education and Training Statistics: young people in education and training 2012

Back to top of page