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Preparing Secondary Students for Work

Glossary of Terms

ACACA (Australasian Curriculum, Assessment and Certification Authorities) is the national body for the chief executives of the statutory bodies in the Australian states and territories and New Zealand responsible for senior secondary certificates of education.


Accredited courses are developed to meet training needs that are not addressed by existing training packages. They are accredited by VET regulators and comply with national and state quality assurance requirements.

Current policy specifies that accredited courses should not duplicate coverage of a training package qualification but allow for a combination of ‘enterprise units of competency’ (developed by the course owner) and/or training package units of competency. Accredited courses may also include ‘modules’ that are not competency based.


Under an auspice arrangement, training and/or assessment is undertaken by a school, while a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) issues the qualification or Statement of Attainment.


The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is the national policy for regulated qualifications in the Australian education and training system. It incorporates the quality assured qualifications from each education and training sector into a single comprehensive national qualifications framework.


Boards of studies is the term used in this document to describe the statutory bodies in the states and territories responsible for senior secondary certificates of education, including the recognition of VET in those certificates. Related terms include curriculum and assessment authorities and ACACA agencies.


Career education describes the range of strategies or programs in schools that support career development through learning and development, and activities such as work experience and employer visits. Career advice involves the provision of information, advice and guidance by a qualified adviser in a one‑on‑one or small group setting. Career development enables students to acquire the knowledge and develop the skills and capabilities for managing their future training, further education and employment pathways.


Core systems is the term used in this document to refer to the policy settings, governance arrangements, regulatory environments and resourcing decisions within which vocational learning and VET are delivered to secondary students.


Curriculum bodies comprise boards of studies and the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA).


The Education Council, which reports to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), provides a forum for national collaborative action to improve educational outcomes for all Australians, across all stages of the learning and development lifecycle. Previous names include the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC) and the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA).


Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) are authorised to deliver training and/or conduct assessments and issue nationally recognised qualifications.


A school-based apprenticeship or traineeship is the term used in this document to describe a qualification pathway that combines paid employment as an apprentice or a trainee, off-the-job vocational training and senior secondary school studies. Related terms include Australian School-based Apprenticeship (ASbA) and School-Based Apprenticeship and Traineeship (SBAT).


School systems are responsible for policies in relation to schools in state/territory, Catholic and independent school sectors. School systems include state and territory education departments and boards of studies.


The senior secondary certificate of education (SSCE) is the graduation certificate awarded to students in Australian schools. Students completing the SSCE are usually aged 16 to 18 and study full-time for two years. In some states adults may gain the certificate outside of school, such as through an RTO. The curriculum, assessment and name of the senior secondary certificate of education is different in each state and territory. Related terms include Year 12 Certificate.


Training packages define the range of knowledge and skills (known as competencies) required by different occupations and industries and, in some cases, the circumstances under which competency can be assessed. They also describe how these competencies can be packaged into nationally recognised qualifications that are aligned to the Australian Qualifications Framework. Training packages are not curriculum and do not prescribe the way training is delivered to an individual. RTOs design courses that deliver the skills and knowledge identified in training packages, while tailoring training to individual learner needs and the needs of local or relevant employers and industries.


Training package developers are responsible for the development, implementation and continuous improvement of training packages. In 2014 there were 12 national industry skills councils that were approved to develop training packages.


Units of competency are the smallest units that can be assessed and recognised as part of a training package. They specify the knowledge and skill, and the application of that knowledge and skill, to the standard of performance expected in the workplace.


VET delivered to secondary students is the same as all other VET, and the same quality standards apply.


The VET Quality Framework is aimed at achieving greater national consistency in the way providers are registered and monitored and in how standards in the VET sector are enforced.


VET regulators enforce the quality standards for RTOs and accredit VET courses. In 2014 the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is the national regulator. The Training Accreditation Council (TAC) in Western Australia and the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) maintain some regulatory responsibility in their respective jurisdictions.


Vocational Education and Training (VET) enables students to acquire workplace skills through nationally recognised training described within an industry-developed training package or an accredited course. A VET qualification is issued by an RTO. The achievement of a VET qualification signifies that a student has demonstrated competency against the skills and knowledge required to perform effectively in the workplace.


Vocational learning helps secondary students explore the world of work, identify career options and pathways, and build career development skills. Vocational learning is delivered within the broader curriculum. It supports students to gain career development skills and provides opportunities for students to ‘taste’ the world of work through one-off events, initiatives such as enterprise learning, or spending time in a real or simulated workplace.


Volume of learning, a technical term in the AQF, is a dimension of the complexity of a qualification. It is used with the level criteria and qualification type descriptor to determine the depth and breadth of the learning outcomes of a qualification. The volume of learning identifies the notional duration of all activities required for the achievement of the learning outcomes specified for a particular AQF qualification type. It is expressed in equivalent full-time years.


The following terms used in the 2001 framework have been replaced by new terminology to provide greater clarity for stakeholders:

Vocational education (2001 framework) was an overarching term which encompassed vocational learning, enterprise education and VET.


VET in Schools (2001 framework) was the term used to describe the VET provided to school students that resulted in a VET qualification. The 2001 framework also referred to ‘VET in Schools qualifications’, which suggested these were different to all other VET qualifications.