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Employers' Questions Answered

Why would a young person choose to do the VCAL instead of the VCE?

The VCE is designed primarily to prepare students for tertiary education, however, not every young person wants to go to university. The VCAL is a senior secondary school qualification that sits alongside the VCE, but it is based on applied learning and is designed to give students 'employability' skills and the skills to go on to further training in the workplace or at a TAFE. (As with the VCE, the VCAL can also be offered by TAFE institutes and other post-school providers.)

Will a young person who has completed the VCAL have real-life work experience?

The VCAL program gives students the opportunity to undertake structured workplace learning on a regular basis, for example, one day a week. This gives them a chance to become part of the team at work and apply the knowledge they are learning in the classroom.

If I employ a student who has completed the VCAL, will they be equipped with the level of literacy and numeracy skills they need to be effective in the workplace?

Literacy and numeracy studies are a compulsory part of the VCAL. The flexibility of the VCAL enables students to integrate their literacy and numeracy learning into other areas of their VCAL program and apply it to specific work and industry related situations (eg preparing quotations and measuring-up jobs).

Do students who complete the VCAL have the skills and knowledge to continue further training at TAFE?

Yes. The VCAL is a senior secondary school certificate that is recognised by TAFE institutes and enables entry into further education and training courses. Indeed, TAFE will be a natural progression for many VCAL students who may have already completed one or more VET certificate units of competency as part of their VCAL program.

How does the VCAL help a young person decide what type of industry or business they would like to work in?

One of the aims of the VCAL is to provide students with the practical experience they need to make informed career choices. Students have an opportunity to gain experience in a wide range of industries through VET courses and/or structured work placement. These experiences show them what it is like to work in a particular industry or business, as well as helping them discover where their strengths and interests lie.

What do students receive on successful completion of the VCAL?

Just like their peers who complete the VCE, students receive a Certificate and a Statement of Results that details the units they completed.

How does the VCAL get students ready to enter a trade?

VCAL students will gain knowledge and skills that will assist in their preparation for entering a trade, eg Occupational Health and Safety.

The On Track destination survey for students, who had completed a VCAL Intermediate or Senior certificate, indicated that 87% of this cohort followed a pathway to education, training or work after their VCAL.

What skills do students get by doing the VCAL?

A VCAL program can be designed to suit the individual needs and interests of the student. However, students must complete fully accredited units and modules in the following four compulsory strands:

1. Literacy and Numeracy Skills
The student's program may include: VCAL Literacy & Numeracy Skills units, units from VCE English and Mathematics or other fully accredited curriculum such as the Certificate in General Education for Adults.

2. Industry Specific Skills
Intermediate and Senior VCAL students must undertake Vocational Education and Training (VET units of competency). Students have the flexibility to either complete a single VET certificate or to complete units of competency from a variety of certificates, thus gaining experience in a range of vocational areas.

3. Work Related Skills
In order to develop 'employability' skills, students have the choice of undertaking either a structured work placement or a school-based or part-time apprenticeship/traineeship where they must demonstrate that certain learning outcomes have been achieved. Students may also undertake pre-vocational courses such as OH&S, First Aid or appropriate VCE subjects such as Industry and Enterprise studies.

4. Personal Development Skills
A student must participate in community projects and/or activities organised by the school in partnership with community-based agencies. The Personal Development Skills strand aims to develop communication skills, teamwork, self-confidence, self- esteem, respect for others and the community.

What activities do students complete as part of the Industry Specific Skills strand?

As part of this compulsory strand, students may undertake VET units of competency delivered through registered training organisations (RTOs) such as TAFEs. The range of VET options is extensive with recognised training packages available from industries including automotive, engineering, building and construction, hospitality and retail, agriculture, horticulture, warehousing and hair and beauty.

What types of activities do students complete as part of the Work Related Skills strand?

To help build 'employability skills', VCAL students get the opportunity to undertake a structured work placement where they must achieve specific learning outcomes. Students may also undertake other courses such as pre-vocational courses or components of VET certificates, such as OH&S or communication skills that complement the structured work placement.

What does the Personal Development Skills strand involve and how does it help prepare a young person for the workforce?

VCAL students have the opportunity to participate in local community based projects and activities that develop personal attributes such as teamwork, self-esteem and respect. Students may be involved in youth initiatives including Advance, a Victorian youth development program, or The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, or undertake volunteer work with organisations such as Conservation Volunteers Australia, the Country Fire Authority (CFA) or the State Emergency Service (SES).

What are the differences between the Senior, Intermediate and Foundation levels of the VCAL?

Students select and complete VCAL at the level that matches their individual needs and abilities. Regardless of the level they undertake, students must complete studies in the four compulsory strands (Literacy and Numeracy Skills, Industry Specific Skills, Work Related Skills and Personal Development Skills.) As a guide, students undertake units from VET certificates that correspond to the VCAL levels as follows:

  • Foundation: Certificate I
  • Intermediate: Certificate I and II
  • Senior: Certificate II and III

Further information