VET’s role in the youth unemployment story

Media release

13 May 2021

Vocational pathways in school, work-based training, and career guidance are critical to youth employability, especially for disadvantaged young people.

By examining responses to past economic downturns and recessions, this latest research report What VET can offer to COVID-19 youth unemployment recovery highlights what the VET sector can contribute to protect youth from long-term unemployment and under-employment following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three VET approaches that support young people to move into employment are:

  • Vocational pathways in secondary school broaden youth understanding of the types of jobs that await and smooths the school-to-work transition, but the experience must be meaningful and supported by personalised career guidance.
  • Work-based training achieves the best lasting employment outcomes, particularly when embedded in VET qualifications. Apprenticeships and traineeships offer one mechanism but are not the only effective work-based training approach.
  • Career planning is essential for youth to understand the breadth of occupations open to them. Individualised, ongoing support from an informed and objective person works best, especially for disadvantaged youth.

The rapid digitisation of VET delivery is unique to the pandemic-induced 2020 recession and has proven a double-edged sword. While accessibility has improved for some learners, others with limited access to the internet or devices, or who lack digital skills, have been disadvantaged.

The high rate of youth unemployment pre-pandemic indicates that the VET sector also needs to look at longer-term solutions. The opportunity VET offers to Australia’s youth can only reach those who most need it when VET is adequately resourced to offer programs in tandem with holistic social services and industry support.

Quotes attributable to Simon Walker, Managing Director, NCVER

VET qualifications with a work-based training component have been shown to protect youth from the scarring effects of unemployment but can be made even more effective by strengthening the links between training and stable employment in industries with opportunity to progress.

VET offers valuable mechanisms to address youth unemployment if implemented in tandem with holistic support services.

A key element of success for vocational pathways in schools is well-informed and personalised career guidance, a strategy that stands to gain significantly from being client-centred and securely funded.

VIEW: The report What VET can offer to COVID-19 youth unemployment recovery is now available from the NCVER Portal.

Media enquiries: Deanne Loan  M: 0413 523 691  E:

About NCVER: we are the main provider of research, statistics and data on Australia’s VET sector. Our services help promote better understanding of VET and assist policymakers, practitioners, industry, training providers, and students to make informed decisions. This work has been produced by NCVER on behalf of the Australian Government and state and territory governments, with funding provided through the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.