FROM next year the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) will be scrapped and replaced by the VCE Vocational Major and Victorian Pathways Certificate, in a multi-million dollar effort from the state government to address increased demand for careers in the trades and services industry.
The state budget, set to be released in full on Tuesday, will include a $277.5 million reform package for school based apprenticeships.
$120.2 million will be put towards reinvigorating the Vocational Education and Training (VET) program by providing all students access to 12 different core VET subjects.
The subjects will include health, community services and early childhood education, building and construction, digital and media technologies, hospitality, engineering, automotive, agriculture and environment, hair and beauty, creative industries, sport and recreation and business.
An $87.9 million investment into education staffing will also seek to attract a further 400 VET trainers and upskill up to 1900 teachers.
In a press conference in Castlemaine on Thursday, Victorian education minister James Merlino said the announcement was significant for incoming vocationally interested students.
"What is particularly exciting is this program will allow schools to go and purchase additional VET courses, either through local TAFE or other training providers," he said.
Mr Merlino said the reforms would also mean an average saving of up to $1000 per family.
"We know often vocational courses are more expensive, so we're seeking to rectify that," he said.
Castlemaine Secondary College principal Justin Hird said the students would be the key winners from the announcement.
"We've already got a really strong VCAL program at Castlemaine Secondary College," he said, "but this will increase the breadth of subjects that are offered."
Currently, the college offers 10 different vocational study majors, however under the new program they would be able to expand that to 12.
"We often get students who want to do some classes which we just can't offer," he said, "so [they're forced to] go somewhere else."
"This will really help with our retention rates if we can offer those [programs]."
The new system would allow neighbouring schools to effectively 'share' vocational programs to allow all students to access all 12 programs.
Mr Hird said schools were already trying to integrate VCE and vocational students and the new announcement would help with the blending.
"This will connect students more to the rest of the school," he said.
"We've been trying to get VET and VCE students to realise they are all senior students at the college and they can all work togehter - so this will help with that.
Mr Hird also said he hoped the school would see some of the extra training announced on Thursday as well.
"With these reforms, enrollments may increase," he said, "so we will need more teachers."
Castlemaine Secondary year 12 VCAL student Jacob Ramsay said he'd recommend any student to do vocational programs.
"I've learnt a lot about responsibility," he said, "it's a really good thing to do."
In his plumbing apprenticeship, Mr Ramsay said he would likely land a full time job after he finished year 12 at the end of 2022.
"It's great to get out and have a job straight away."
The state government will release its full 2022/2023 budget on Tuesday evening (May 3, 2022).
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.