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Paid training program for students expands

The State Government has boosted a program allowing students to finish Year 12 while pursuing paid training.


Every student at a government secondary school can now participate in Head Start, which allows individuals eager to enter the workforce the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship or traineeship while finishing school.

Completed alongside a VCE, VCE Vocational Major or Victorian Pathways Certificate, the initiative offers students paid on-the-job training while providing employers with well-matched young workers.

Last year, 288 schools had at least one student start a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship, with the most popular choices being carpentry, hospitality and electrotechnology. More than 3,300 students participated in Head Start in 2023.

Head Start students receive ongoing support from the program through Year 11 and 12, helping them manage the demands of work, school and training.

Nearly 3,000 employers have hosted a Head Start school-based apprenticeship or traineeship.

According to the State Government, the program has been promising with apprentice and trainee retention rates at 87 per cent – significantly higher than the rate for full-time apprentices and trainees of 54 per cent, while 96 per cent of participating employers with fewer than 20 employees say they would recommend the program.

Minister for Education Ben Carroll said: “Head Start is a great option for students, allowing them to complete Year 12 while getting paid and working towards a qualification that will set them up for their future.”

To find out more about Head Start, visit

How the Victorian Chamber can help

Businesses highly value the role of career services in creating a high performing and efficient labour market. This initiative aligns with the Victorian Chamber’s Boosting Business with Career Services Policy Paper, which delivered 29 recommendations to improve the future of careers services nationally, ensuring that every Australian can access the support they need to thrive in the workforce of tomorrow. The full paper and recommendations can be read via the Career Services Policy Paper.

The Victorian Chamber’s Apprenticeship Support Australia (ASA) is contracted by the Australian Government to provide free personalised advice and support services from pre-commencement to completion for job seekers, employers, apprentices and trainees.

Our dedicated and experienced team can advise employers on how they can take on a school-based trainee or apprentice, and what the roles, responsibilities, requirements and incentives are to host them. Our career advisors can provide one-on-one careers consultations with students to assist them select the best option for their chosen career.

Contact our ASA team with any enquiries.

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