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Head Start apprenticeships and traineeships

Head Start complements secondary school-based education with an apprenticeship or traineeship, building skills and confidence.

Head Start is a school-based apprenticeship and traineeship (SBAT) program that helps students in years 10-12 develop skills, capabilities and confidence that employers in growth industries need.

Head Start students receive paid on-the-job training that contributes to their VCE, VCE Vocational Major or VPC and leads to a qualification.

More than 2200 students have participated in Head Start. The program is expanding and will be available to all government senior secondary schools by the end of 2023.

How Head Start works

Head Start teams are based in 12 school-based hubs across Victoria and provide wrap-around support for students.

Each Head Start student receives:

  • career planning advice from their school career practitioner to find the right pathway
  • a plan for their pathway into a priority industry career, tailored to their specific needs and the needs of their employer
  • one-on-one support from a Head Start coordinator to keep them on the right track
  • quality-assured training through TAFEs and Skills First providers
  • a secondary certificate such as the VCE, VCE Vocational Major or VPC
  • completion or significant progress towards a qualification such as a Certificate III or IV
  • payment of a fair training wage.

Getting started with Head Start

Students can join the Head Start program by talking to their school’s career practitioner, who will connect them with their Head Start team. The team will carefully match the student with an employer.

Before their apprenticeship or traineeship formally begins, the student completes a work trial to make sure they, their parents, their school and the employer are confident the placement is suitable.

The student, their parent and employer sign a training contract, and the student completes a training plan with a registered training organisation.

Depending on employer and student needs, a Head Start student can increase their hours of paid employment as they progress through their studies. For example, a student might have paid employment for:

  • one day per week in year 10
  • 2 days per week in year 11
  • 2-3 days per week in year 12.

Head Start students can work at their place of employment on weekends and in the school holidays. Depending on the stage of their training plan, they can transition into a full-time apprenticeship or traineeship when they leave school. Year 12 can be done over 2 years if needed.

Head Start also supports students in their first year after leaving school, to help make their transition into full-time training and employment an easier process.

Head Start employers and pathways

Head Start students are completing SBATs in industries like building and construction, community services and health, business and technology services, and primary industries.

Head Start matches students with employers that have genuine staffing needs, helping the employers build their future workforce.

Employers have reported that Head Start apprentices and trainees are committed and well-supported, delivering improved business outcomes and lower staff recruitment costs.

Local Head Start teams

From February 2023, Head Start will be operating in 12 hubs across Victoria:

  • Barwon South West includes Colac-Otway, Corangamite, Glenelg, Golden Plains, Greater Geelong, Moyne, Southern Grampians, Surf Coast and Warrnambool
  • Bayside-Peninsula includes Bayside, Frankston, Glen Eira, Kingston, Mornington Peninsula, Port Phillip, and Stonnington
  • Eastern Metro Melbourne includes Cardinia, Knox, Maroondah, Monash, Whitehorse, and Yarra Ranges
  • Gippsland includes Bass Coast, Baw Baw, East Gippsland, Latrobe, South Gippsland, and Wellington
  • Goulburn Ovens Murray includes Alpine, Benalla, Greater Shepparton, Indigo, Mansfield, Mitchell, Moira, Murrindindi, Strathbogie, Towong, and Wodonga
  • Hume Whittlesea includes Hume, Merri-bek, and Whittlesea
  • Loddon Mallee includes Buloke, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Gannawarra, Greater Bendigo, Loddon, Macedon Ranges, Mildura, Mount Alexander, and Swan Hill
  • Melbourne North West includes Brimbank, Maribyrnong, and Melton
  • North East Melbourne includes Banyule, Boroondara, Darebin, Manningham, Nillumbik, and Yarra
  • Southern Melbourne includes Cardinia, Casey, and Greater Dandenong
  • Western Melbourne includes Hobsons Bay, Melbourne, Moonee Valley, and Wyndham
  • Wimmera Central Highlands includes Ararat, Ballarat, Hepburn, Hindmarsh, Moorabool, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, West Wimmera, and Yarriambiack

Reviewed 31 January 2023

Head Start state-wide expansion: register your interest in a Head Start role

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