Department program

Head Start apprenticeships and traineeships

​Head Start is a new model for apprenticeships and traineeships for school students.

Head Start students spend more time doing important, paid, on-the-job training while completing their VCE or VCAL at school.

The program helps students to develop skills and experience that employers value. Head Start helps students to get the best start in their career.  

How it works

Students can choose to take an extra year to complete their VCE or VCAL. This means more time spent training on-the-job.

In the first year, students will spend one or two days per week in paid employment. This will increase to three or four days per week in paid employment in the final year.

Depending on the requirement of the employer, it is expected that at a minimum average students will undertake:

  • one day per week paid employment in year 10
  • two days per week paid employment in year 11
  • three days per week paid employment in year 12 (which may be undertaken over two years if required).

Note: Block release for Head Start apprentices and trainees may be negotiated between individual students, schools and TAFEs/RTOs.

This new and flexible approach provides:

  • strong supports for both students and employers throughout the apprenticeship or traineeship
  • quality assured training through TAFEs and Skills First contracted providers
  • a tailored pathway for students into careers in priority industries
  • an opportunity for employers to train and mentor students who are ready for work and have literacy, numeracy and employability skills
  • payment of a fair training wage
  • VCE or VCAL completion
  • significant progress towards, or completion of, a trade qualification.

Participating schools

Participating schools are working in 10 clusters across Victoria to deliver Head Start in partnership with employers and training providers.

The 10 participating cluster areas are:

  • Barwon
  • Brimbank Melton
  • Central Highlands
  • Eastern Metropolitan Melbourne
  • Hume Moreland
  • Inner Gippsland
  • Inner South East Melbourne
  • Loddon Campaspe
  • North East Melbourne
  • Outer South East Melbourne

Schools were invited to participate in the program and selected based on analysis of:

  • economic need in the area
  • current school-based apprenticeship and traineeships (SBATs) and VET delivered in secondary schools activity
  • strength of existing networks.

This unique approach to delivery will allow for a flexible model, a local design and pooling of resources to help ensure it has positive outcomes for students, industry and schools. 

Head Start staff

From 2019, each cluster area will have a team of Head Start staff working across their local schools.

Cluster directors are responsible for implementing Head Start across their area.

Head Start coordinators will:

  • support students and employers through the apprenticeship or traineeship
  • develop tailored Head Start pathway agreements for each apprentice or trainee
  • work with employers and Head Start schools to identify suitable opportunities
  • match the right student with the right employer
  • provide a point of coordination for students, employers, schools and training providers
  • ensure workplaces offer quality learning experiences for students.

Supporting students and industry

Head Start is being designed in consultation with industry and the Victorian Skills Commissioner, to ensure that training under Head Start is high-quality and in areas of industry demand.

Head Start apprenticeships and traineeships will only be offered with employers who make a genuine commitment to supporting students to complete their VCE or VCAL, their VET Certificate and recognition for their apprenticeship or traineeship.