Center on International Education Benchmarking

Australia: School-to-Work Transition

Overview | Teacher and Principal Quality | Instructional Systems
System and School Organization | Education For All | School-to-Work Transition

Australia was among CIEB’s Top Performing Countries for 2009. This profile has been archived and is no longer being updated.

Vocational Education and Training has a much higher profile in Australia than in many other advanced industrial countries.  All the training done in the system is framed by a set of qualifications that have been developed and embraced by Australian employers, labor organizations and government.  To get most jobs in the economy one must possess the appropriate qualification.  Vocational education and training programs are designed to enable people of all ages to acquire the qualifications needed to get the jobs they want.

After achieving an initial qualification in a given field, qualification-holders typically continue to study to earn additional qualifications. The requisite training is offered by high schools and Registered Training Organizations. The national Vocational Education and Training Quality Framework outlines standards for all training organizations.

The qualifications system is regulated by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). The AQF differs from the Vocational Education and Training Quality Framework in that it regulates qualifications rather than standards for the provision of training, and encompasses all of higher education, academic and vocational. Together, these frameworks provide consistency across Vocational Education and Training programs in Australia, so that employers know what credentials mean when they are offered by applicants for jobs, training institutions know what training they need to offer and individuals know what qualifications they have to earn to get the jobs they want.

Australia’s Vocational Education and Training programs also benefit from strong federal and business leadership. The government is currently working to improve the status of Vocational Education and Training programs in order to make both Australia and its individual citizens more competitive. To that end, the government has recently undertaken a six-year, $3 billion project to encourage workers to “up-skill” or “re-skill” by earning formal qualifications. Part of the project includes a comprehensive website for workers and job seekers, directing them to qualifications programs in various skill and job areas. The website also includes education and career guidance for Australians who are interested in gaining qualifications but have not yet selected a field.  Other lifelong learning opportunities are available privately or through on-the-job training.

Upper secondary school students can take vocational classes at comprehensive upper secondary schools.   About 40% of Australian students take at least one VET subject in secondary school, while 7% of young people are involved in apprenticeships or traineeships.

Schools applying to establish a Trade Training Centre on their campuses may choose from either a set of approved traditional trade qualifications, or petition to establish a program for occupations in local demand, again reinforcing the link between secondary education and the economy. Occupations in local demand are identified by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). Over the next three years, $2.6 billion will be funneled into the Trade Training Centres in Schools Program. Other national school-to-work initiatives include the NBN-Enabled Education and Skills Services Program, which will help greater numbers of students build their computer and online skills through Australia’s new National Broadband Network, and the Business-School Connections Roundtable, which has been charged with developing guiding principles for a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between schools and businesses.