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Vocational placement schemes

Version 15
December 2013
Vocational placement schemes (DOC, 274KB)

The purpose of this fact sheet is to introduce registered training organisations to vocational placement as a complementary strategy to institutional based delivery and assessment.

What is a vocational placement?

The object of a vocational placement is to provide a student with the opportunity to undertake practical training and to gain the experience required to enable them to demonstrate competency against the outcomes of a nationally recognised qualification/course.

A vocational placement is generally an appropriate option for students who would not otherwise have sufficient access to the facilities, equipment and range of work necessary to develop and consolidate their skills to the level required of the qualification/course, for example, students not employed in the vocational area in which they are studying and students undertaking their qualification/course through an institutional pathway.

The placement is directly related to the specific units of competency/skill requirements of a qualification/course as nominated by a registered training organisation.

In Queensland, vocational placement is governed by the Vocational Education, Training and Employment Act 2000 (the Act) and is administered by the Department of Education, Training and Employment under delegation from the Chief Executive.

If a student is placed into a work environment to develop and consolidate their skills and the placement is not recognised within the meaning of the Act, there is a risk that any or all of the following may arise:

  1. the student and placement person may be in breach of industrial relations legislation, as the student may effectively be determined to be an employee of the placement person
  2. the registered training organisation may be in breach of the Act
  3. the registered training organisation may be non-compliant with the VET Quality Framework
  4. in the event of accident resulting in damage to property or injury to persons, the placement person's public liability insurer may refuse to honour the policy.

Types of vocational placements

There are two types of vocational placements which are distinguished by the following features:

Long placements

Short placements

  • more than 240 hours per calendar year
  • students are entitled to benefits and payments, as determined by the Industrial Commission
  • the registered training organisation must apply to the Industrial Commission for an order fixing remuneration and conditions that apply to the vocational placement of the student.

  • not more than 240 hours per calendar year
  • students are not paid and are not eligible for other benefits.

Vocational placement hours are in addition to the nominal hours of delivery and are not included in the nominal hours for the qualification/course.

How is a 'vocational placement' different from 'work experience'?

The terms 'vocational placement' and 'work experience' are not interchangeable and each has a specific meaning.

Some of the distinguishing characteristics of each arrangement are summarised below:

Vocational placement

Work experience

  • hands on work in a real work environment that is directly relevant to the student's course
  • the skills and knowledge the student will gain during the placement are assessable as part of the course
  • unpaid for 'short' placements and paid for 'long' placements
  • application must be made to the Chief Executive for recognition of the scheme
  • must have a training plan
  • governed by the Vocational Education, Training and Employment Act 2000.
  • formal arrangement where students participate in activities in a workplace that may or may not be related to a VET program
  • shadowing/sampling/research
  • structured work placement where part of a VET in schools program
  • unpaid and a maximum of 30 days per year
  • must be in writing and approved by the principal of the student's educational establishment
  • governed by the Education (Work Experience) Act 1996 and is administered by Education Queensland.

Further information about work experience is available through:
Principal Education Officer, Teaching and Learning
Telephone: 07 3237 1053

CRP-PR-003: Work Experience Placements for School Students Procedure on the DETE website

Vocational placement schemes must be 'recognised'

A registered training organisation must apply to the Chief Executive for recognition of a vocational placement scheme.

Who arranges the placement?

Once a scheme has been recognised, the registered training organisation is responsible for planning and monitoring the placement.

What insurance is required?

All registered training organisations are required to hold public liability insurance. In addition, if a registered training organisation is conducting a course requiring students to undertake a vocational placement, the Vocational Education, Training and Employment Act 2000 requires the registered training organisation to enter into, and keep in force until the course is no longer offered, an insurance contract under the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, section 22 to cover students undertaking the placement.

What further information is available?

The department has developed a Guide to vocational placement for Queensland registered training organisations to assist registered training organisations in understanding vocational placement, how to apply to have a scheme recognised and their responsibilities in respect of vocational placement schemes. For further information, access the guide or contact

This page was last updated at Wednesday, January 08, 2014