VET in schools for indigenous students: 'Hands on', 'default', or promising?


A comparatively large number of Indigenous students participate in Vocational Education and Training in Schools (VETiS) programs. This paper draws on data from two national studies: a survey of 20,000 young people and their experience of vocational learning, and a qualitative study of VETiS in 21 schools in diverse settings, which included interviews with 118 Indigenous VETiS students and 160 school staff and other stakeholders.

It provides a rare insight into the way in which VETiS is experienced by Indigenous students, and of the role VETiS plays in addressing their educational needs and vocational aspirations. Students' views of VETiS, including their reasons for enrolling, what they valued about it, and their critique of VETiS subjects are summarised.

While much of the interview data supports previous research on the need to support individual Indigenous students systematically, successful engagement in VETiS is demonstrated to require broader system and school support, including wide ranging policy commitment and engagement with principles of social justice.


Angela Hill
School of Education, Western Campus James Cook University, Douglas QLD

Sue Helme
Centre for Post-compulsory Education and Lifelong Learning, University of Melbourne, VIC


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