VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning)

What is VCAL?

The VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) is a qualification that sits alongside the VCE. It provides an alternative pathway for young people in Year 11 and 12 and is based on applied learning. It builds on partnerships between schools, TAFE Adult Community Education Organisations and other community, industry and employer groups, including the Local Learning and Employment Network. The VCAL curriculum sits under an umbrella structure of diverse program elements. They can include VCE studies, VET certificates, elements of programs such as the Certificate in General Education for Adults and a range of community based and personal development activities.

Each student has a separately designed VCAL Learning Program that suits their needs and aspirations.

Why do we need VCAL?

More than 20% of students don’t finish Year 12 and many leave school without the skills and qualifications needed for further education, training or work.

Increasingly, schools, TAFE institutes, businesses and local communities are offering a wider range of learning options to meet the individual interests and needs of young people. Some of these options are recognised for the VCE, some for vocational education and training (VET) qualifications and some aren’t recognised at all.

The VCAL makes it possible for schools to develop flexible learning programs that include existing accredited studies/modules leading to a formal qualification. Students who complete the VCAL receive a VCAL certificate as well as a Statement of Attainment for all training modules completed at TAFE institutes and other training providers, and all VCE units completed.

The VCAL improves students access to pathways into further education, training and employment.

How does VCAL improve students work and study options?

The VCAL helps each student improve their literacy and numeracy, acquire work and industry skills, and grow as a person. Students gain experience in the adult world of work and get a qualification that helps them prepare for a job, apprenticeship, traineeship, further education and/or training.

Can VCAL students change to the VCE if they change their minds?

Yes. Any VCE units completed as part of a students VCAL will count towards their VCE if they decide VCE is a better option for them. They can simply transfer their VCE results, including those for VET into the VCE.

To successfully complete VCE you must satisfactorily complete at least 3 units of English so the time that you take to complete VCE after transferring from VCAL may be lengthened.

What is the structure of VCAL?

The certificate can be completed at 3 different levels:

– Foundation

– Intermediate

– Senior

The curriculum elements are divided into 4 curriculum strands:

– Literacy & Numeracy

– Industry Specific

– Work Related

– Personal Development


VCAL is based on 100 hour units of work and 10 units must be successfully completed at the appropriate level to be awarded VCAL. There must be a minimum of 2 units in Literacy and Numeracy and a minimum of 1 unit in each of the other strands.

What does a VCAL program at the intermediate level look like?

Student: Mark Chau, 16, entering Year 11 in a VCAL Learning Program.

Situation: Mark wants to leave school and start work but is not sure at what, although he is interested in cars. He knows that getting a job is tough for young people without a qualification. Through the VCAL Project Mark can stay at school, get skills which will help him get a job and sample work in a variety of industries. Mark’s Learning Program for VCAL (Intermediate level) is as follows:

– Literacy and numeracy: VCAL Literacy and VCE Foundation Maths

– Work related skills: work one day a week with a local auto mechanic (first semester); work one day a week at another business (second semester); VCE Industry and Enterprise units

– Industry specific skills: VET modules (including engineering, automotive and electrical modules) in a range of industries, to give him a feel for different jobs. Also, general learning-for-work units and modules, such as occupational health and safety, first aid and working in teams

– Personal development skills: Bronze Medal in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards (including activities like bushwalking); Green Corps environmental and heritage conservation activities, CFA, Camps and Lifeskills programs, volunteering in the community.