Great news! A recent study shows that school students with low reading skills can still secure good learning and employment results. And that is through Vocational and Educational Training (VET).
University of Melbourne has recently released a study by Cain Polidano and Chris Ryan entitled, ‘What happens to students with low reading proficiency at 15?’. The study reports that young people who struggle with reading at high school can perform well in a VET environment . The report says:
“Supporting analysis suggests that high rates of participation and positive outcomes from vocational education and training (VET) among those with low reading proficiency helps them avoid any negative effects from poor achievement in school. These results highlight the role of accessible VET pathways in facilitating the labour market participation of youth who may become disengaged from learning in school.”
Young people with low reading and articulation skills who pursued VET courses had good learning results and positive job experiences, according to Polidano and Ryan. Students who struggle in a school system’s overwhelming orientation for a university entrance now have a study option through VET pathways.
“… those with low reading proficiency avoid labour market disadvantage by achieving good outcomes from VET. Not only are those with low reading proficiency more likely to invest in VET, they are also more likely to enrol in VET courses that are associated with positive graduate outcomes. An interpretation is that having a low reading proficiency at age 15 may provide the impetus for exploring VET options from an early age.”
Polidano and Ryan believe that one important reason why outcomes tend to be positive is because young people taking VET pathways devote more time planning and choosing their career options. This report might make educators consider whether the current career advice given to students is organised in the most effective way (both informative and supportive).
Those with the highest levels of reading and articulation have the highest returns from post-school studies but we should not concentrate on university degrees as the only valued outcome. The research reveals that:
- around 29 per cent of those with low reading proficiency at age 15 enrol in university and 17 per cent attain a university degr
- around 58 per cent of those with medium reading proficiency at age 15 enrol in university and 43 per cent attain a university degree.
The research/study also delivers important observations about other post-school qualifications:
“Among those with low reading proficiency at age 15, the participation rate in post-secondary education is 87% by age 25, which is only slightly lower than the rate for students with medium level reading proficiency (93%). Not only is the participation rate in education high, but the rate of qualification acquisition among low proficiency readers is high as well.”
This research supports what VET providers have known for a long time; students who often struggle in a formal school environment thrive in the VET system. Experienced VET practitioners believe the hands-on approach to learning enshrined in the VET system produces better outcomes for many students.