The Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) is one of two senior secondary certificates in Victoria. The VCAL engages senior students in a combination of work-based learning, vocational education and training (VET), literacy and numeracy and personal development.  The VCAL aims to provide students with the skills, knowledge and attributes necessary to make informed choices regarding pathways to work and further education.

Like the VCE, the VCAL is a recognised senior secondary qualification. Unlike the VCE, which is widely used by students as a pathway to university, the VCAL focuses on ‘hands-on learning’. Students who do the VCAL are more likely to be interested in going on to training at TAFE, doing an apprenticeship, or getting a job after completing Year 12.

Although the primary focus of the VCAL is on preparing students for the workplace, some Universities are now recognising the Senior VCAL Certificate as an acceptable entry qualification into some undergraduate degree courses.


The VCAL can be studied at three levels:

At this level, knowledge and employability skills developed are supported by a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy skills and preparatory learning with a high level of teacher support and assistance.

At this level, knowledge and employability skills development lead to independent learning, confidence and a high level of transferable skills. It is expected that at this level there is some teacher support and assistance but with the expectation that students will demonstrate independent learning and study skills.  The expected standard and quality of work by the students is equivalent of that to Unit 1 and 2 VCE.

At this level, knowledge and employability skills developed leads to a high level of interpersonal skills, independent action and achievement of tasks that require decision-making and leadership. It is expected that students work as independent learners with teacher support and assistance available on request, allowing students to conceptualise and plan task outcomes with a fair degree of autonomy. This level of study is comparable to the standard expected at VCE Unit 3 and 4 standard.

Within the VCAL there are four skills strands or areas of study: – Literacy skills strand; Numeracy skills strand; Personal Development skills strand; Work Related Skills Strand.

In addition to this, students are required to complete a minimum of 100 hours of completed modules of VET studies. At Foundation level this can be at a Certificate 1 level or above; Intermediate level at a Certificate II level or above; Senior at a Certificate II/III level or above.  In addition to this students are required to develop industry experience.

At Galen Catholic College the program developed optimises the opportunities for students to personalise their learning through a wide variety of VET offerings and tailoring their course work around an area of interest as well as gaining maximum exposure to industry.

Students entering year 11 enrol in either Foundation or Intermediate level VCAL depending on their academic performance through year 10.  Students usually follow through to either Intermediate or Senior VCAL at year 12 depending on their performance and ability demonstrated in earlier studies.

Typically students are required to undertake study in each of the four core strands being: Literacy, Numeracy, Personal Development and Work Related Skills, a Vocational course of study and participate in workplace learning.

The Vocational Study component of the VCAL, requires students to be engaged in a VET (Vocational Education and Training) course of study, which involves a full day of study each week.  Alternatively some students may engage in a School Based Apprenticeship (ASBA). This may also require students attend TAFE during school breaks as part of the ASBA.  At Galen Catholic College Students are encouraged to complete the VET certificate of Study undertaken.

The Workplace learning component requires students enrolled in the VCAL at Galen to spend one day a week undertaking a work placement. This is in an industry or occupation of choice.  For students who are unsure of the direction or career that they wish to pursue the workplace learning component provides an ideal opportunity to sample a number of trades and occupations across a wide range of industries, maximising industry exposure and assisting students in developing a legitimate career pathway.

Typically the timetable for a VCAL student will involve three days a week on campus studying the four core strands, one day a week in the work place and one day a week participating in VET studies.

Students who have completed the VCAL through Galen Catholic College have been very successful in securing apprenticeships, traineeships, general employment or in pursuing opportunities in further education.

Further information
For further information contact the Deputy Principle of Teaching and Learning or the VCAL Co-ordinator.
You can also access the VCAA website and follow the links to information on the VCAL course of study.