Helping students get a career head start

Head Start is a new education pathway for secondary school students that complements school-based education with an apprenticeship or traineeship.

Students can choose to complete their Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) over three years alongside paid on-the-job training that leads to a qualification. Head Start is designed to give students the confidence, capabilities and skills that employers in growth industries need.

The program recognises that students learn in different ways, have different passions and empower their own career choices.

How Head Start can change learning

Head Start students receive:

  • career planning advice from the school career practitioner to find the right pathway
  • a Head Start pathway plan tailored to the specific needs of the student and the employer
  • one-on-one support from a Head Start coordinator to keep students on the right track
  • quality-assured training through TAFEs and Skills First contracted providers
  • a VCE or VCAL certificate
  • significant progress towards, or completion of, a trade qualification
  • payment of a fair training wage
  • a tailored pathway into a priority industry career.

Head Start pathways

Since its inception, Head Start students could choose from apprenticeships and traineeships in key industries such as building, construction, community services and health, business, and primary industries. The program options have now been expanded to include technology-based courses as part of Head Start Tech Futures project.

Tech Futures qualifications complement the Government's senior secondary reforms following the Firth Review into Vocational and Applied Learning Pathways for Senior Secondary Schooling – which recommended more action be taken to make vocational and applied learning in schools high-quality, relevant to the needs of employers, and available to all students. This includes high quality SBATs.

How Head Start works

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

  • one day per week in Year 10
  • two days per week in Year 11
  • three days per week paid in Year 12

Year 12 may be undertaken over two years if required.