VCAL, the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning is an accredited secondary certificate and is an alternative to VCE. The program has been in place at Aitken College since 2006. VCAL broadens the educational, training and employment opportunities for students who are more suited to learning in an applied, “practical” environment. Students in Years 11 and 12 may undertake VCAL. Students who do VCAL are usually very clear about their vocational pathway and are generally interested in going on to training at TAFE, completing an apprenticeship or traineeship, or going straight into the work place. Interested students in Year 10 must apply formally and have an interview to determine their suitability for VCAL.

The VCAL has four compulsory strands which give students “hands-on” practical work-related experiences that help them prepare for employment, as well as literacy and numeracy skills and the opportunity to build personal skills that are important for life and work. The VCAL’s flexibility enables schools to design a study program that suits the interests and learning needs of individual students.

The VCAL students at Aitken College also take part in The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme which is an internationally recognised program that encourages young people to engage with their community and challenge themselves to achieve personal excellence, through a program of structured independent activities. Students undertake activities in the following four sections: Physical Recreation; Skill (learning something new); Community Service (voluntary work) and an Adventurous Journey (camps).

VCAL students also undertake two VET (Vocational Education and Training) courses during their two year program and two work placements in their chosen career field. VET courses include VET Business, which is delivered at the College and then a selection of courses offered at various outside institutes, depending on a student’s interest. Work placements for each student are expected to reflect the career interests of the student, providing both the development of workplace skills and experience of relevant work environments.