Academic journal article Australian Journal of Career Development

Vocational Education and Training in Schools: Career Advisers' Perceptions and Advising Practices

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Career Development

Vocational Education and Training in Schools: Career Advisers' Perceptions and Advising Practices

Article excerpt

This paper explores the currently highly topical issue of Vocational Education and Training in Schools (VETiS). Specifically, it focuses upon career advisers' perceptions of VETiS, their advising practices as pertaining to this program and their views of others' perceptions of VETiS. It draws upon a national research project and data derived from interviews conducted with career advisers during the course of the project. The paper demonstrates that career advisers perceive VETiS in a favourable light on the whole, and that they advocate the practice of advising all students to do VETiS if students desire to do so. That said, the paper goes on to highlight tensions apparent in the career advisers' perceptions of, and subsequent advice-giving practices regarding VETiS--particularly in terms of the potential benefits it affords all students. It becomes clear that career advisers have different agendas for advising different students--academic and non-academic students--to undertake VETiS as a course of study. Finally, the paper demonstrates the ways in which career advisers become complicit in the marginalisation of VETiS programs and the status of VET.

VET IN SCHOOLS: CAREER ADVISERS' PERCEPTIONS AND ADVISING PRACTICES

Currently, and indeed within the last decade, there has been considerable focus placed upon VET in Schools (VETiS) and its role within schools and in relation to student career pathways (Anlezark, Karmel & Ong, 2006; Barnett & Ryan, 2005; Porter, 2006; Walker, Alloway, Dalley-Trim & Patterson, 2006). In 1999 the Ministerial Council for Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs adopted the current definition of VETiS: 'VET in Schools programs are undertaken as part of a student's senior secondary certificate and provide credit towards a nationally recognised VET qualification. VET in Schools programs are based on national industry competency standards.' (Ministerial Council on Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs Transition from School Taskforce, 2004).

There are two main means of undertaking VETiS. The first is through 'course or subject programs, commonly referred to as "VET in Schools programs"' (Nguyen, 2005, p. 41), and the second is through school-based New Apprenticeships. It is upon the first of these two options that this paper focuses, to the exclusion of the second.

With this focus upon VETiS has come increasing research--particularly substantial formal research--into the area. Prior to 1997, 'while the literature on vocational education in schools was extensive, little of it was based on research' (Ryan, 1997 cited in Barnett & Ryan, 2005, p. 9). Recent more formal research, how ever, has begun to provide greater insight into VETiS and the issues relevant to it. The numbers of schools offering VETiS programs have increased substantially, rising from 70 per cent in 1997 to 95 per cent in 2001 (Australian National Training Authority, 2002, p. 19). The Department of Education, Science and Training (2002, p. 54) reported that of these schools offering VETiS, 60 per cent are government schools. Additionally, it was reported that schools providing for a largely low socioeconomic status clientele are more likely to offer vocational education programs (Polesel, Helme, Davies, Teese, Nicholas & Vickers, 2003).

Recent research has also suggested that 'despite difficulties in gathering reliable and consistent data, it seems clear that enrolments in vocational learning programs have increased substantially since NCVER's [National Centre for Vocational Education Research] first review in 1997' (Barnett & Ryan, 2005, p. 22). In 2003, 202,900 students were enrolled in VETiS; in 2002, 185,500 students were enrolled; in 2001, 170,000 students were enrolled; in 1998, 117,000 were enrolled, and in 1996, 60,000 students were enrolled in VETiS (Barnett & Ryan, 2005; Nguyen, 2005). This shift, Barnett and Ryan (2005, p. 22) suggested, 'represents an increase in the proportion of senior secondary students engaging in VET in Schools programs from 16 per cent to 44 per cent (Australian National Training Authority, 2002, p. …

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