Senior secondary schooling pathway reforms

We want every Victorian student’s senior secondary experience to be positive, enjoyable and rewarding.

Senior secondary education is about developing and realising every student’s potential.

We are reforming senior secondary schooling to better engage and inspire Victoria's students. Our reforms will build the aspirations and skills of young people so that their secondary schooling sets them up for future careers and meets the needs of the modern economy.

Reforming senior secondary education to better embed vocational and applied learning will build students’ critical and creative thinking, communication skills, teamwork collaboration, curiosity and innovation and provide students with real-world knowledge, including about the workplace, and practical and transferable skills.

The recommendations in John Firth’s review into vocational and applied learning pathways in senior secondary schooling (Firth review) provides a roadmap for this reform.

Senior secondary certificate reform

Senior secondary education in Victoria is changing.

Victoria is moving to an integrated senior secondary certificate.

The VCE Vocational Major is a new 2-year program that sits within the VCE. Whatever a student’s talent, they can now pursue it under one VCE.

Moving to an integrated senior secondary certificate will give all students the learning opportunities they need to develop the skills and capabilities required to succeed in further education, work and life.

The Victorian Pathways Certificate (VPC) is a new flexible foundation secondary course designed for a small number of students in years 11 and 12 who, for various reasons, are not able or ready to undertake the VCE or VCE Vocational Major.

For more information on the certificates visit:

VCE Vocational Major

The VCE Vocational Major is a 2-year vocational and applied learning program within the VCE. The program aims to equip students with the skills, knowledge, confidence and agency needed to prepare for the world of work and further education and training.

The VCE Vocational Major prepares students to transition successfully into apprenticeships, traineeships, further education and training, university, or directly into employment. It supports students to develop knowledge, confidence and skills for work and life. It employs a more diverse range of assessment strategies rather than exams, alleviating some of the pressure that students face when completing the VCE.

The VCE Vocational Major replaces the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) at the intermediate and senior levels.

For more information visit VCE and VCE Vocational Major.

Victorian Pathways Certificate

The Victorian Pathways Certificate (VPC) is a flexible foundation secondary course that will meet the needs of the minority of students not able or ready to complete a certificate at the VCE level.

The VPC provides students with a standards-based certificate that has been developed to be flexible, without a mandated period in which a student must complete the certificate. This allows students to complete it in a timeframe that suits their capability.

It provides an enriched curriculum and excellent support for students to develop the skills, capabilities and qualities for success in personal and civic life.

The VPC supports students to transition to the VCE, VCE Vocational Major=, entry level VET or employment.

The VPC replaces Foundation VCAL.

For more information visit Victorian Pathways Certificate.

Single senior secondary certificate reform timeline

  • 2020

    November - Release of the Firth Review Recommendations

  • 2021

    • Design and development of new certificate and curriculum
    • Consultation with schools, teachers, providers and industry
    • Draft certificate designs released for public consultation
  • 2022

    • May - final certificates and new curricula released
    • Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority-led professional learning for school staff and teachers.
  • 2023

    • First enrolments in the VCE Vocational Major and Victorian Pathways Certificate
    • Continuing VCAL students transition into the VCE Vocational Major or Victorian Pathways Certificate.
  • 2025

    • Introduction of a fully integrated senior secondary certificate

For more information on the timeline for the senior secondary certificate reform visit the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority website.

VET Delivered to School Students Core Offering

We are helping to improve access to a range of high-quality VET courses for all students.

This includes a core set of VET certificates within 12 pathways:

Priority pathways

  • Health
  • Community services and early childhood education
  • Building and construction
  • Digital media and technologies
  • Hospitality
  • Clean Energy and Engineering

Flexible pathways

  • Automotive
  • Agriculture and environment
  • Hair and beauty
  • Creative industries
  • Sport and recreation
  • Business.

These certificates are aligned to growth areas, student interest, and local industry needs.

We aim for all schools to provide students with access to at least 8 certificates:

  • one certificate from each of the 6 priority pathways, and
  • two certificates from the flexible pathways.

Expanding student access to VET will help them gain skills that align to their aspirations and get the jobs they want in Victoria’s growing economy.

Read more about VET pathways in schools.

School-based apprenticeships and traineeships

We are supporting high-quality school-based apprenticeships and traineeships (SBATs) for more students across Victorian schools and senior secondary education providers.

SBAT students complete their schooling while spending time in paid employment, developing the vocational skills that prepare them for successful career pathways after senior secondary school.

These reforms will ensure that SBAT arrangements are appropriate to each individual student. They include establishment of minimum standards and best practice guidance, resources and supports for schools, and a minimum workplace hours policy.

The Head Start program provides wrap-around support to SBAT students and employers. To further improve vocational pathways for students, Head Start will expand to every government school in Victoria. This will give more students the opportunity to undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship in an in-demand sector while completing their schooling.

For more information, visit Head Start apprenticeships and traineeships.

More information for schools and teachers is in SBATs policy, guidance and resources on PAL.

For general information about SBATs for parents and students, visit School-based apprenticeships and traineeships.

Transforming career education

Effective career education starts early, connects to work and supports students to understand their interests, skills and goals to make informed career decisions.

My Career Insights

All year 9 students in government schools have access to My Career Insights, a comprehensive online career discovery and assessment tool. Once they have completed their career assessment, students can access high-quality one-on-one career counselling with an external accredited career practitioner.

My Career Portfolio

All students in government schools can access My Career Portfolio, an online resource to help students explore career options, plan their futures through Career Action Plans and store files related to their course and career planning.

Read more about other transforming career education initiatives.

Secondary Schools Agriculture Fund

The Secondary Schools Agriculture Fund is supporting tech schools, secondary schools and local organisations to provide opportunities that will boost pathways to agricultural careers for secondary students and meet the needs of communities and their agricultural industries.

In 2022 we awarded funding to 43 schools to deliver initiatives that include agriculture camps, student access to new agricultural technology, and educational programs covering agricultural skills, modern agricultural practices, and traditional land care and bush food.

Find out more about the Secondary schools agriculture fund.

Growing the VET and applied learning workforce

We are investigating how we can increase the number of teachers, trainers and school staff with expertise in vocational and applied learning.

A great senior secondary education requires a highly skilled and world class workforce, including teachers, trainers and staff in schools to support vocational and applied learning.

As a first step, we have provided professional learning programs that support teachers new to vocational and applied learning, as well as existing experts.

This professional development builds on the VET and VCAL workforce reform program, supporting teachers specialising in vocational and applied learning by providing opportunities to enhance industry skills, share innovative practice and foster teaching excellence.

Funded study pathways will also be available for industry professionals to become VET trainers in schools, as well as helping the teaching workforce to become dual qualified VET teachers where appropriate.

For more information about how to access professional development, visit Vocational and applied learning workforce programs for senior secondary schools.

VET champions

The VET Champions initiative shines a light on high-achieving Victorians who have risen to success through a vocational pathway. Since 2021, VET Champions have promoted the benefits of vocational pathways to students, schools, educators and the broader community.

VET Champions are available to attend your local school or industry event and talk about their VET experiences.

Hear individual stories or book a VET Champion on the VET Champions website.

The Trades Fit

The Trades Fit is a careers expo that allows female and non-binary students to experience exciting career opportunities in traditionally male-dominated fields.

The inaugural expo in 2022 helped more than 1500 students explore trade and technology careers.

For more information, visit The Trades Fit: Young Women in Trades and Tech.

More information

Further information is available at:

Or email:


VCE is changing from 2023

VCE now includes the new Vocational Major, replacing VCAL.  Whatever your talent, pursue it under the new VCE.