The Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) is a ‘hands-on’ option for students in Years 11 and 12.
Like the VCE, the VCAL is a recognised senior secondary qualification. Unlike the VCE, which is widely used by students as a pathway to university, the VCAL focuses on ‘hands-on learning’. Students who do the VCAL are more likely to be interested in going on to training at TAFE, doing an apprenticeship, or getting a job after completing Year 12. Students can go to University after VCAL (through a TAFE pathway) however, this is rare.
The VCAL’s flexibility enables students to undertake a study program that suits their interests and learning needs. Students undertake accredited curriculum components from VCE studies, Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications and VCAL units.
There are four compulsory strands in VCAL:
- Literacy and Numeracy Skills
- Work Related Skills
- Industry Specific Skills
- Personal Development Skills.
Vocational Education in the VCAL
A VCAL program at the Intermediate and Senior levels must include components of nationally recognised VET qualifications. The range of VET options is extensive. Some examples are automotive, engineering, building and construction, hospitality, retail, multimedia, information technology, agriculture, horticulture, warehousing and hair and beauty, to name only a few. Students attend this one day a week at a VET provider (e.g., Chisholm TAFE). Students need to achieve a competent result in most of their VET units in order to qualify for their VCAL certificate.
Work Placement in the VCAL
Students undertake one day a week of work placement. The work placement should be in the same area as their VET course, however, sometimes this is impossible to achieve (i.e., some areas like Building and Construction are difficult to get a placement in). In cases where the student cannot find a placement in the same area as their VET, they may need to find a placement in another area.
Partnerships and Project-based nature of VCAL
Students will be involved in projects throughout the school year, which link back to the VCAL curriculum. These will include: a gardening project, a breakfast club, local community projects, involvement with another secondary college, fundraising, excursions, and day trips. Students will plan and carry out these activities.