Premier Jacinta Allan and Minister for Education Ben Carroll visited Interair at Essendon Airport today to announce that every student at a government secondary school can now participate in Head Start.

Head Start, the Government says, is a nation-leading program that gives students who are eager to enter the workforce the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship or traineeship while finishing school.

“Tradies are in high demand, and this means more workers for the jobs our state needs,” Allan said at the announcement.

“Young people shouldn’t have to choose between finishing their studies and pursuing paid training.”

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 and highly motivated young workers.

Carroll said the program is proving to be a big hit with schools, parents and students.

“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,” he said.

Interair is one of the many companies offering students apprenticeships while they finish VCE.

In 2023, the organisation welcomed Sunbury Downs College graduate William Paul for two days a week – allowing him to become the first student in Victoria to undertake aircraft maintenance as a school-based apprenticeship via Head Start.

As well 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 3300 students participated in Head Start, which carefully matched them with employers to deliver a successful and rewarding placement for everyone.

Students involved in the program receive ongoing support from team members through Year 11 and 12, helping them to manage the demands of work, school and training.

Nearly 3000 employers have hosted a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship as part of Head Start, and 96 per cent of participating employers with fewer than 20 employees say they would recommend the program.

The program is showing encouraging results to date, with the apprentice and trainee retention rate at 87 per cent – significantly higher than the rate for full time apprentices and trainees of 54 per cent.

The expansion of Head Start to all government secondary schools following the successful pilot is part of the Labor Government’s $639 million investment in reforms to senior secondary pathways.

To find out more about Head Start, click here.