Vocational Education and Training (VET) pathways play an important role in providing young people with options while studying at secondary school. It helps prepare them for social and economic participation, citizenship, and entry into the world of work and can be done as part of their senior secondary certificate of education or through other work-based training approaches. This includes undertaking school-based apprenticeships or traineeships, pre-vocational programs, or VET ‘orientation’ in the earlier years.
“Vocational Education and Training (VET) pathways play an important role in providing young people with options while studying at secondary school.”
For some learners, these can serve as a way of keeping them engaged in learning. For those who, for one reason or another, leave their secondary education early, VET can be a powerful re-engagement pathway.
The Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY) track young peoples’ education journey and employment transitions.
Research published by NCVER in 2022 using LSAY data indicates that overall, approximately 75% of the LSAY respondents who left school before completing Year 12 re-engaged with some form of education by the age of 25.
Further, nearly two-thirds (63%) re-engaged with education through VET and undertook a diverse range of programs from certificate I to diploma, including apprenticeships and
“For those who, for one reason or another, leave their secondary education early, VET can be a powerful re-engagement pathway.”
Comparing those who re-engaged with education via VET with those who did not reveal characteristics associated with a higher likelihood of re-engaging with education through VET.
The characteristics that lead to the highest probability of re-engagement are having parents who want their child to go on to VET in the year after leaving school, not intending to complete Year 12 and being male.
Re-engaging through VET – timing and plans vital. According to the research, the likelihood of early school leavers re-engaging with education via VET within six months of leaving school is high at 76% (Lim, 2022).
Timing is a critical factor. The research shows there is a ‘golden window’ for re-engagement. Most early school leavers who re-engaged with education did so within six months of leaving school, with a minority taking up to 96 months (8 years) to re-engage after leaving school.
“Re-engaging through VET – timing and plans vital. The research shows there is a ‘golden window’ for re-engagement.”
Early school leavers’ plans for the year after leaving school also play an important role, with those who want to undertake VET or other non-university training highly likely to engage with VET within six months of leaving school.
The primary driver of any educational re-engagement is socioeconomic status (SES), with those from lower SES circumstance are less likely to re-engage with education than those with higher SES.
Re-engaging with any form of education – influence, information and career guidance the key. The results of our work across both re-engagement through VET, and for that matter, any educational re-engagement, highlight the importance of parental influence, with parental plans for their child in the year after leaving school featuring prominently.
‘Early school leaver,’ is defined as someone who leaves school without completing Year 12. The research also identifies the importance of providing information about available post-school options and good career guidance and advice to parents of young people at risk of leaving school early (Lim, 2022 and Misko et al, 2021).
Career planning is essential for enabling youth to understand the breadth of occupations open to them and their education and training options. And individualised, ongoing support from an informed and objective person works best, especially for disadvantaged youth or for those at risk of disengaging from learning (Waugh and Circelli, 2021).
“Career planning is essential for enabling youth to understand the breadth of occupations open to them and their education and training options.”
Lim, P, 2022, VET as a re-engagement pathways for early school leavers.
Misko, J, Lees, M and Chew, E, 2021, VET for secondary school students: Insights and Outcomes.
Circelli, M and Waugh, J, 2021, What VET can offer to COVID-19 youth unemployment recovery.