April 13, 2019

VET for secondary school students: acquiring an array of technical and non-technical skills

The role of vocational education and training (VET) in preparing secondary school students for employment, further training and the changing world of work has long been a topic of interest among employers, educationalists and policymakers. More recent attention has also been on VET’s role in assisting in the development of non-technical skills (for example, employability skills), with employer groups vocal about the need for potential employees possessing these skills.

This study is one part of a larger program of research investigating whether VET programs delivered to secondary students add value to their post-school destinations. In this report, we explore whether VET undertaken by secondary students, and in some cases by post-school students, equips them with the skills (including the non-technical skills) required to successfully participate in an ever-changing world of work. To do this, we analysed the VET programs of secondary students over the last 20 years, focusing on the number and types of programs undertaken and the characteristics of the participating students. We also undertook a content analysis of the core units of qualifications in selected training packages to identify whether these facilitate the development of non-technical skills.

Data on the numbers of secondary school students in these programs from 2003 onwards have been provided to the National VET in Schools Collection by the jurisdictional boards of studies, and these form the underlying data used in this report. Due to definitional issues and reporting pathways, these data are likely to underestimate the total number of secondary school students undertaking VET programs.

Key messages

VET for secondary school students – NCVER April 2019