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If you're lucky enough to know what you want to do before
you leave high school, why should you have to wait until after the HSC
to get started?
The way the education system has traditionally operated is that
students study general subjects in high school and then start learning
the specific skills they require to get a job later on at TAFE or
university. But what if, having decided at 16 you want to be a chef or
mechanic or plumber, you could start learning industry-specific skills
and get some practical experience while still at school?
Not only is that possible, but school-based traineeships and
apprenticeships are now being offered throughout Australia. In NSW
alone, there are currently 2,176 students undertaking them in
everything from baking and hospitality to locksmithing and signcraft.
Pupils at Singleton High School in the Hunter Valley are just some of
those getting a head start on their careers. In February, a number of
Year 11 students interested in nursing started a Health Services
Assistance Certificate III at Singleton Hospital, following in the
footsteps of another student who pioneered the program in 2012 and is
now in her second year.
The students have this opportunity thanks to a partnership between
their school, their local hospital, TAFE NSW and the Australian
Business Apprenticeships Centre. The students work a shift at the
hospital one day a week followed by a TAFE theory lesson and also work
for a week during school holidays. The students are required to
complete 100 shifts over two years and, as well as gaining valuable
work experience, they also get paid for the shifts they do.
A school-based traineeship is treated much like any other subject,
with students receiving marks that count towards their Australian
Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) at the completion of Year 12. At that
point, students have an entry-level qualification that will let them
go into the workforce or undertake further study at TAFE or
university, having already mastered the basics. Research from the UK
indicates students who've had quality interactions with employers of
the kind facilitated by a school-based traineeship or apprenticeship
are much more likely to be in employment or training at age 19-24 than
their peers who haven't.
To find out more about undertaking a school-based traineeship or
apprenticeship visit TAFE NSW.