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Confused about School-Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships?

If you’re supporting a young person through high school right now, you might not know much about School-Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships (SBATs).

SBATs are a valuable pathway for high school students which allow them to start gaining practical skills, work experience, and industry-recognised qualifications while still completing their secondary education.

What are School-Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships (SBATs)?

SBATs are vocational education programs specifically designed for Australian high school students aged 15 or older, meaning they can usually start in Year 10, 11, or 12, combining the final 2 or 3 years of school with:

  • some school work;
  • formal training (either in the classroom or online); plus
  • paid part-time work where they receive on-the-job training and mentoring (hours per week required can vary by state).

For students who really want to get a head start on their careers, are struggling with traditional school, or aren’t keen to head to university straight after high school, an SBAT could be a fantastic way to stay engaged at school while still working on their career goals.

SBATs generally take around 2-4 years to complete, and that’s often working and studying full time. So students are likely to need to continue with their training after leaving school before they qualify; especially as they may be working reduced hours throughout the school year.

What do you get from an SBAT?

Students could leave Year 12 with:

  • a high school certificate;
  • a VET qualification;
  • a Certificate of Proficiency;
  • paid experience in a workplace;
  • references for their resume;
  • some training arrangements can even contribute towards an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). So if they’re still weighing up if uni might be in their future, then find out which programs offer this option and speak to the Future Students teams at universities to make sure all the information is correct; or
  • the possibility of a full-time job offer from their employer.

Who is eligible?

Generally if a student is:

  • enrolled full time at school student;
  • aged 15 years or older;
  • has the school’s agreement to undertake school based training;
  • can find an employer willing to train them; and
  • has parent/guardian’s permission (if under the age of 18);

they’ll be eligible.

But it’s worth checking the requirements at the school, and also within your state/territory, as they may differ slightly.

How do SBATs work?

  1. Employment: Students enter a formal employment arrangement with an employer in an industry of their choice. This can include trades, business, hospitality, health, and more.
  2. Structured training: Alongside school studies, students will undertake structured training delivered by a registered training organisation (RTO). This training leads to a nationally recognised qualification, such as a Certificate II or III.
  3. Workplace experience: Students spend a minimum of one day a week (or equivalent) in the workplace, gaining practical skills and supervised, hands-on, work experience.
  4. Wage and conditions: SBATs are paid positions, with students earning a wage. They also receive employment conditions and entitlements such as superannuation, sick and holiday pay (if applicable), workers’ compensation, and any other entitlements or requirements set independently by the Fair Work Commission. (Note: Wages may vary depending how many years of training they’ve completed, the type of Apprenticeship/Traineeship, and the industry or occupation).

How long have SBATs been around?

SBATs started in Australia in 1996, with the program evolving over the years. They’ve become an increasingly popular option since then.

In 2022, approximately 225,720 people aged 15-24 were employed as apprentices or trainees, including school-based apprentices or trainees.

How are SBATs funded?

Vocational qualifications for young people, especially SBATs, are usually fully funded, meaning there aren’t any additional out of pocket costs to cover (other than the usual school expenses).

The Australian Government provides VET in Schools funding to the State and Territory governments as a part of the National Specific Purpose Payment for Skills and Workforce Development. State and Territory governments in turn provide funding to government and non-government schools for VET in Schools programs.

Benefits of SBATs

  • Early career start: SBATs offer students a head start in their chosen career, allowing them to gain industry-specific skills and experience while still in school.
  • Nationally recognised qualifications: Completing an SBAT provides students with valuable vocational qualifications, making them more employable.
  • Income and work experience: Students earn a wage and build a network in their chosen industry, boosting their long-term employability.
  • Smooth transition to full-time work or further study: Many SBAT graduates find it easier to secure full-time employment or continue their education in related fields.

Supporting high schoolers in starting an SBAT

  • Talk to the school: Speak with your child’s school or career advisor so you understand the SBAT options available and how they fit into their academic plan. They’ll need to work out the hours, blocks, or days at work or doing their vocational training. Understand what the compulsory schoolwork, attendance in lessons, and extra-curricular activities are.
  • Research: Help your child explore different industries and careers to find one that aligns with their interests and strengths. Look at the Labour Market Information (LMI) for long term opportunities in your local area.
  • Contact: your local Apprenticeship Network provider for support, advice, or more information
  • Networking: Encourage your child to reach out to potential employers and discuss their interests and goals, find someone who’d be willing to train them. You might have suggestions or contacts that will be useful.
  • Get set up:
    • enrol with the Registered Training Organisation (RTO);
    • complete a National Training Contract (NTC) with the AASN and employer (it’s a legally binding apprenticeship/traineeship agreement to provide employment and structured training for the duration of the contract);
    • school principal or authorised school person must endorse the RTO’s training plan;
    • organise a timetable including how they’ll be getting to and from work; and
    • help them get a USI, bank account, tax file number, superannuation account set up.
  • Balancing act: Ensure your child is managing the demands of school, work, and training.

An SBAT could help students to get ahead

In summary, School-Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships in Australia offer the opportunity for high school students to gain real-world experience and industry qualifications.

By understanding how SBATs work and providing support and guidance, you could help your high school student make informed choices and embark on a promising career path.

If you need more information about SBATs, Apprenticeships, and Traineeships, grab a copy of the updated 2023 guide here (it’s free for member schools).

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