August 5th, 2022

Author: Cara Jenkin


Thousands of Australian high school students are getting a taste of their desired careers, a head start on the study and training required for these jobs, or basic practical skills to help them get started in the world of work.

They are completing vocational education and training qualifications while they are still at school, and this training also can count towards achieving their high school certificate.

From as early as Year 9, students can start undertaking a certificate I, II, III, IV or diploma course in a plethora of subjects, that can lead to trade jobs ranging from plumbers to chefs, or non-trade jobs as diverse as aircraft cabin crew, social media marketers, or business administration.

In fact, the type of course that a VET in Schools participant can complete may only be limited to their imagination and interest.

Check out Rachael Kelly, 2021 Australian School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year Award Finalist!


More than 250,000 students across Australia are undertaking VET in Schools, through which they can complete a vocational education and training qualification that is nationally recognised by employers, or at least gain credits towards obtaining a qualification.

Increasingly, VET in Schools are being offered at private schools as well as public schools.

While most VET in Schools participants go to public school (156,000), and the number enrolled at Catholic schools has remained steady over the past few years (44,000), the number of Independent school students who are enrolled (32,000) has surged by 28 per cent.

Some courses, such as a certificate II (pre-apprenticeship), teach students the basic skills to start an apprenticeship. It gives them an edge against other apprenticeship job applicants who have not gained these basic skills.

About 7 per cent of all students who do VET in Schools are completing an Australian School-Based Apprenticeship or Traineeship, in which they are hired by an employer and gain skills in a workplace while they are learning, as well as be paid a wage. This paid employment may take place during school hours, or outside of school, based on what the employer needs.

The training may take a few hours every week, or perhaps be completed in longer blocks of time over the year, with the time spent at work and in training negotiated with employers and schools.

When an apprenticeship or traineeship can take between one and four years to complete, any training completed part time while still at school can significantly fasttrack a career in the field.

The added benefit for students completing VET in Schools is that they are learning all these skills for their future while getting credits towards their high school certificate. It also may count towards an ATAR to get accepted into university.



Hospitality courses are the most popular. For example, 14,000 students were enrolled in a Certificate II in Hospitality in 2021 to learn the skills to put them on the path of becoming a waiter or a chef.

Other popular areas include business services to learn skills to work in an office; sport, fitness and recreation to kickstart careers in the fitness industry or in sports coaching; community services to learn skills to work in healthcare, aged care and disability care; and information and communications technology to start a cyber security career or IT support role.

Building and construction courses also are popular. But there are students who are completing a Certificate III in Landscape Construction, a Certificate IV in Crime and Justice Studies or a Certificate III in Equine Studies, just to name a few.



Any secondary school student in Australia can take part in VET in Schools. In 2021, most (97,000 students) started their training in Year 11, while 76,000 started in Year 12.

Some schools may offer training on-site, can co-ordinate training to be completed by their registered training provider (RTO) off-site, or can help students gain training through partnerships with other schools in their local area.

Talk to your school’s career counsellor or VET co-ordinator to find out more information, or call the Federal Government’s Student Enquiry Hotline on 1800 020 108 (call charges apply to ‘18’ numbers from mobile phones).



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