Since 2019, Federal and State governments have introduced measures to entice schools leavers to take up vocational education (VET).
The move followed a report from Social Ventures Australia that found poor policy decisions, among other reasons, have led to a drop in VET participation.
To address this, some schools have launched programs to introduce their students to the opportunities that VET offers.
One Queensland school, Montessori International College (MIC), has adopted the International Baccalaureate’s (IB) Career-related Program (CP), which blends both academic and vocational qualifications.
The CP, which has been running since 2012, helps students acquire the necessary, highly-specialised skills and experience they need for their chosen career paths.
After finishing the program, a student can either pursue further education or immediately join the workforce.
MIC IB co-ordinator, Kelli Doulin, said the school adopted the CP for its flexibility – as it can adapt to a range of academic capabilities as well as career interests.
“It’s not hard to sell a programme that caters to the individual interests of the student,” Doulin told The Educator.
She said the school community recognised that the reputation of the IB, the philosophy and the opportunities that the CP would give the students was a program that should be supported.
“Most of our student graduates still go on to pursue tertiary education but we expect this to continue to diversify,” Doulin said.
How the CP develops well-rounded students
The majority of MIC’s students in their Senior Phase are taking up the IB CP. So far, MIC found that Health Support Services, Laboratory Skills, Fashion Design and Technology, as well as Fitness are among the most popular vocational TAFE courses for their students.
While the school is still new to the program, Doulin said the rapid growth in the Sunshine Coast over the past decade has led to the demand for more vocationally-trained graduates – especially those who are in the field of construction, health, technology, and even the arts and design.
“The CP is highly individualised; a unique trait which means that a student really can pursue their career goals during high school,” she said.
“With every aspect of the programme built around their career interest, students are thoroughly engaged with their learning”.
The program’s core comprises of personal and professional skills, language development, service learning and a reflective project. The first two help prepare the students apply the skills they learn to address a real community need, which falls under service learning.
Before they can complete the program, students will have to address an ethical dilemma related to their chosen career path through the reflective project.
“The holistic nature of the CP core helps CP students grow to become more than just graduates with a vocational qualification. The reflective project, which CP students complete, is also remarkable as an experience for students,” she said.
“It requires high school students to grapple with complicated ethical issues and allows them to develop their critical thinking skills, but most importantly, examine the morals and beliefs of themselves”.