There are a number of pathways available to students in most States and Territories:

  • VET in schools
  • school-to-work programs
  • school - TAFE - university
  • School-based apprenticeships and traineeships
  • work experience

In addition to these, To these we’d like to add:

  • casual employment; and
  • volunteer work

Career practitioners will already know about most of these pathways, and there’s little point in going over them, but we would like to comment on some of them.

School-Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships

It’s important to consider the needs and circumstances of the employer.

Not every employer will take an unskilled person for as little as one day a week so you’ll need to do some thinking. What kind of business would benefit from someone one day a week? What problem do they have that can be solved with a School-Based Apprentice or Trainee?

Where a business has a consistent shedule of activity, a School-Based Apprentice or Trainee would fit in more easily than into a project which will have moved on in the intervening days. And where a business has a weekly or fortnightly workload peak, having someone to help with that peak might be quite welcome.

Work experience

Think outside the square - take a broader view, and get the student to take a broader view.

Work experience is a great “taster” - after all, the student might not like it or might have not have the aptitude.

We often get requests to help with work experience on a building site. These can be problematic – there are complications like a White Card, protective clothing, weather, transport, and supervision.

In the building industry we try to steer people towards what we call “off-site” construction – factories and workshops that make wall frames and roof trusses, doors, windows, stairs, kitchens etc. Or there are the “finishing trades” – painting, plastering, ceramic tiling, laying floors etc which happen once the external structure is finished. And there’s “fit-out and finish” which covers shopfitting and office fitout.

Work experience in the Property Services industries is a lot less problematic, and since these industries can be found in every city and town access should be easier. Think about a work experience placement with a surveyor, or in draughting, security, real estate, waste management etc. And remember to look beyond the stereotypes.

Casual employment

We’ve all heard about someone who’s started as a casual employee and ended up with a permanent job. 

Many students have casual jobs at retail and fast food outlets, but maybe there’s scope to be a bit more targeted. Why not recommend something more aligned to a career path – a drafting office, Real Estate agency, a locksmith? If the owner or manager knows that the student is considering a career in the field they may be more sympathetic.

Volunteer work

In some industries it’s not uncommon for an employer to want to test a person’s aptitude and commitment, and sometimes the student may have to do some unpaid work first to demonstrate commitment. I say some unpaid work – we’re not advocating exploitation.

[Note: There may be State/Territory legislative provisions which limit the amount of unpaid work a person can do. It would be wise to check.]