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VU research shows good vocational training can keep kids at school

A Victoria University (VU) study shows that vocational training for young people is more likely to succeed if certain factors are built in, such as individual learning plans and strict attendance rules.

The study, Enhancing the Retention of Young People to Year 12, Especially Through Vocational Skills, was conducted by VU's Work-based Education Centre (WERC) to help improve Australia's Year 12 completion rates from about 70 per cent to a government target of 90 per cent.

While training in vocational careers such as carpentry, hairdressing, tourism, retail or information technology is becoming more common for teenagers, some parents, careers counsellors, teachers and students still treat it as a second-rate option to a traditional secondary school education, said WERC Director Berwyn Clayton.

"We're seeing greater acceptance of this kind of training for its power to encourage previously disengaged students to continue with training and education, or for students who are very focused on a specific vocation, yet those negative perceptions persist," she said.

The study was conducted by analysing nine sites across Australia where vocational training was offered to secondary school-aged students, including at TAFEs, vocational colleges and trade schools. It found the more that certain factors were integrated into the programs, the more likely the students were to complete their training and succeed in the workplace.

Key success factors and strategies for vocational education providers included:

  • identifying specific student requirements including language, literacy and numeracy needs, and developing individual learning plans;
  • adopting a coordinated approach to student support involving  counsellors, youth workers, teachers and peers;
  • creating structured pathways and close working relationships with employers and industry;
  • consistently monitoring attendance and measuring student engagement.

The study was launched today at Parliament House in Canberra by Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Peter Garrett.

Ms Clayton said: "When well delivered and supported, vocational programs provide individuals with the opportunity to imagine a future that they may not have previously envisaged."

erwyn Clayton,
irector, Work-based Education Centre (WERC)
ictoria University
h: (03) 9919-7158.


Media Contact:
nn Marie Angebrandt, Media Officer,
U Marketing and Communications Department,
h: (03) 9919 5487 or 0403 556 001.

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