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VCAL - Frequently Asked Questions by students and parents

Answers to frequently asked questions by students and parents about VCAL.

What you need to know

Why would I choose to do the VCAL instead of the VCE?

The VCE is a good option for students who would like to go on to further education at university. However, you might feel that this is not the right option for you.

Just like the VCE, the VCAL is an accredited senior secondary school qualification undertaken in Years 11 and 12. The VCAL is based on hands-on learning, also known as 'applied learning'.

If you choose to do the VCAL, you will gain practical experience and 'employability' skills, as well as the skills you will need to go onto further training in the workplace or at a TAFE.

When and where can I do the VCAL?

You can begin your VCAL program in Years 11 or 12 of secondary school. The VCAL is also available at most TAFE institutes and a number of Adult Community Education (ACE) centres.

What are the VCAL levels?

The VCAL has three levels - Foundation, Intermediate and Senior. You would complete your VCAL at the level that matches your needs and abilities.

Are there any entry requirements?

There are no entry requirements. You begin the VCAL at a level suitable to your learning needs. Your teacher or careers counsellor will be able to help you decide which level is suitable for you.

How long would the VCAL take me to complete?

Regardless of the VCAL level you choose, your learning program would normally take one year to complete.

What do you get after successfully completing the VCAL?

If you successfully complete your learning program you will receive a VCAL Certificate for either Foundation, Intermediate or Senior level, depending on the VCAL level you chose to complete. You will also get a Statement of Results, listing all VCE (if VCE units were successfully completed as part of your VCAL course), and VCAL units, and a Statement of Attainment for VET or Further Education courses. These will list all units and modules you have successfully completed as part of your VCAL program.

What counts towards my VCAL?

What do I study?

With the help of your teacher or careers counsellor, you can develop a learning program that suits your particular learning needs and interests.

You have the choice of selecting units and modules from each of the following four compulsory VCAL strands:

  • Literacy and Numeracy Skills
  • Work Related Skills
  • Industry Specific Skills
  • Personal Development Skills.

Where can I study the VCAL?

The VCAL is offered at secondary schools, Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes and Adult and Community Education (ACE) centres in Victoria.

You will be required to enrol at your school, TAFE or ACE centre, but you may do part of your VCAL program at other schools, TAFE institutes, ACE centres, registered training organisations, community-based organisations and/or  employers.

Finding where to study VCAL subjects

I have already started a VET certificate. Will this count towards my VCAL?

Yes. You should speak with your teacher or careers counsellor to work out how much of your prior study counts towards your VCAL and to plan the remainder of your VCAL learning program.

I have already done a VCE subject. Will this count towards the VCAL?

You should speak with your teacher or careers counsellor to work out how much of your prior study counts towards your VCAL and to plan the remainder of your VCAL learning program.

Can I swap to the VCE if I change my mind?

Yes. If you change your mind and want to swap to the VCE, or if you want to pursue your VCE after completing your VCAL, you should discuss this with your teacher or careers counsellor if you decide to take this option.

Can I work part-time and/or continue an apprenticeship while enrolled in the VCAL?

You can gain recognition and credit for part-time work while enrolled in the VCAL. This work can include:

  • part-time apprenticeship or traineeship
  • part-time work
  • work placements.

How is the VCAL assessed?

All accredited courses/certificates in your VCAL program are assessed by your teacher and/or RTO. VCE, VET and other accredited courses/certificates are assessed in accordance with requirements. Your teacher will explain the requirements to meet the learning outcomes for VCAL units. 

Do I need to sit for the General Achievement Test (GAT)?

The GAT is a test of knowledge and skills in writing, mathematics, science and technology, humanities and social sciences and the arts. It is undertaken by all VCE and VCAL students doing one or more VCE Unit 3 and 4 sequence. Students doing a scored VCE VET Unit 3–4 sequence will also be required to sit the GAT. Students whose only enrolment consists of VCAL units are not required to sit the GAT. However, students can choose to sit the GAT if it is appropriate to their pathway into further education, training or employment.

Do all VCE studies contribute to the VCAL?

All VCE studies will contribute to a VCAL learning program. Studies that meet the purpose statement of one of the VCAL curriculum strands will meet the eligibility requirements of that strand. For example a VCE Maths unit will meet the eligibility requirement for the Numeracy Skills Strand. Other VCE studies that do not meet the purpose statement of a VCAL strand will contribute as General Credits – that is they will form part of the minimum 10 units required to qualify for a VCAL.

Where can the VCAL take me?

Can I get into university if I successfully complete the VCAL?

If you are considering entering university straight from school, VCAL is probably not the best choice for you. Students planning to go straight into university usually undertake VCE programs which allow them to gain an ATAR score from the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC). If you are studying a VCAL program at Senior level and you decide that you might be interested in going on to university, see your teacher or careers counsellor. It is possible that some universities will consider students with a VCAL Senior certificate for admission.

Entry straight from school is not the only route into university. Some people study a vocational education and training course at TAFE while working, perhaps leading to a Diploma or Advanced Diploma, and then decide that they would benefit from a university course. VCAL would be a good start along this pathway.

What are my options once I have completed the VCAL?

The VCAL will give you practical work-related experience and a qualification that will be recognised by TAFE institutes and employers. Together these will help you move from school into work, an apprenticeship or traineeship and/or further training at TAFE.

Alternatively, if you start studying for your VCAL at Foundation or Intermediate level and successfully complete it, you may consider going on to complete either the Intermediate or Senior level of VCAL. Or you might reconsider your options and decide that university is the right choice for you after all, in which case you might consider moving to the VCE.

Will the VCAL get me ready to enter a trade?

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

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

What does the VCAL Certificate and Statement of Results look like?

Further information