School students — What's your plan?

If you're currently at school, or getting ready to leave school, you have some big decisions ahead of you!

Trying to figure out your future isn't easy at any stage of life, but right now maybe you're not sure what you want to do next — should you continue studying and get into TAFE or uni?

Or maybe you want to get straight into work or start your career, but how can you make that happen? What kind of career do you want?

Or maybe you do have some things figured out and you know where you want to go... but you don't really know how to get there. And then things keep changing, it's hard to know what moves to make.

Whatever your situation, three things are for sure —

  • you already have a whole pile of skills, attributes and experiences that will help you find your path; 
  • making a plan is the first step to success;
  • lifelong learning is the key to success.

Lifelong learning

You may have heard of "lifelong learning" — but what does it mean? Lifelong learning describes the process of continual learning that goes on throughout our life... the way we are always learning new skills, gaining new knowledge, or changing the way we do things. 

A lot of lifelong learning happens through our life and work experiences, and some may involve formal learning at a TAFE or university. It's  key to your future plans, so you can keep moving forward as things change and also grab opportunities that come your way.

Watch this short video for more information about why lifelong learning is an important part of your future plans. 

A secondary school student at her local Jobs and Skills Centre.

Free support and advice

Jobs and Skills Centres are located across regional and metropolitan WA, and they can help with advice and support about all things jobs, careers and training.  Whether you're still at school, thinking about leaving, or just looking at your options — it's always good to get some advice and information from the experts. 

All services are free! 

Call your local JSC on 13 64 64, or find your nearest JSC via the link below and drop in for a chat. 

Planning for your future

So much is changing,  everywhere — all the time! The way we live, work and learn, what we do and how we do it.. . answering questions like ‘what are you going to do when you leave school’ isn't easy. And not everyone has it all figured out — it's OK to be unsure about the path to take for your future. But don't feel like that's a bad thing — it's not! Every person's life journey is different, but every journey has one thing in common — they all start with the first step.  And always remember...

  • You already have a whole pile of skills, attributes and experiences that can help you to make a start.
  • You have unique talents and abilities that the right people will value.
  • You have options, lots of them!
  • You will find your path — maybe you'll take a wrong turn here and there, and maybe you'll even get a bit lost along the way, but you'll find it.

Knowing yourself

Before you start on future plans, let's get to know you a bit better — after all you're the most important person here, right! 

You probably already know yourself well, but have you really thought about what makes you who you are? The better you know you, the better choices you'll make and the more confident you'll feel about your future plans.

Have you considered questions like what your strengths are, what people like about you and how other people see you, your interests, and what values you have? Knowing these things about yourself can help you to make choices that are going to set you up for a successful and fulfilling future. Take a moment to explore the points below, and take some notes for yourself. 

What kind of smarts do you have?

We all have different kinds of smarts — most of us actually have all kinds, but some are stronger than others. Take a look at these smarts, and think about which are your strongest — this will help guide your decision making about what kind of work will suit you, and also help you feel more confident about what you have to offer a future employer.

Type of smart What it looks like
Word smarts This relates to words, and language... how you speak, and how you write.  Do you enjoy telling, and listening to or reading, stories? Are you good at remembering names, dates, places? This kind of smarts is useful in pretty much any career, but particularly fields that rely on written and verbal communication or tasks like report writing. 
Number smarts Do you enjoy working with numbers? Measurements, calculations, even being able to recognise and/or create patterns relating to numbers? Do you enjoy problem solving, and having a good debate based on logic? This kind of smarts will help you in a range of careers; particularly anything in fields such as finance and accounting, but also in several trades where you'll need to be able to interpret plans and carry out measurements and calculations and particularly for a career as an electrician or in electronics or computer programming. 
Planning smarts Do you like to figure things out and be prepared, or just go for it and see what happens? Can you visualise things, when people describe them? Do you enjoy drawing and building things? How about your imagination — do you daydream, watch movies, imagine things? This kind of smarts is great for a career in technical fields such as engineering or software development, but also in fields such as project management.. but most jobs involve planning of one kind or another. 
Physical smarts Are you in tune with your body? Do you enjoy physical things, using your body? Do you have good control over, and flexibility with, your body? Are you a "touchy-feely" kind of person? This kind of smarts is important for careers in fields such as sport and recreation but also in jobs in areas such as building and construction where your physical abilities are important. 
Creative smarts Do you enjoy making things, dreaming up new ideas and creations? Are you able to come up with solutions to problems, that nobody else thinks of? This kind of smarts is great for careers in areas such as fashion design or graphic design, but is also useful in almost all fields because it can help you to solve problems and contribute ideas for improvement. 
People smarts Do you enjoy person to person communication, relationships and friendships? Do you enjoy chatting with new people, and making new friends? Do you find yourself mediating in conflict situations, or being the leader in your group? This kind of smarts is useful in almost all kinds of work, but especially healthcare, customer service roles and team-based working.
Emotional smarts Are you able to pick up when someone's unhappy, or sad? Do you find it easy to put yourself in someone else's position, and understand their situation? Do you consider yourself a good judge of character? This kind of smarts is useful in fields where you're working closely with other people; such as nursing, aged care, counselling, customer service or social work. 

You probably have more than one of these smarts, but it's likely one or two are stronger than the others. Take a note of which smarts you think are your strongest.

What do people like about you? How do they see you?

Sometimes it's easy to focus on the things about ourselves that we don't see as positives, but the way other people see you can often be quite different to how you see yourself.

It's important to know what people like about you, and how they see you, because this is how you'll discover things about yourself that you didn't realise. There could be all kinds of great things about you, that you don't know! Here's some ideas for how to go about finding out.

  • Ask a close friend what they like about you. Why are they your friend? 
  • Ask your friends how they would describe you to someone who doesn't know you. 
  • Talk to your family about how they see you — bearing in mind they may see or know a different side of you than your friends see or know.
  • Find out how people feel around you, what kind of "vibe" do you give? Do you come across as friendly, or a bit standoffish? Are you chatty and open, or more quiet? 

Of course you'll need to be prepared to hear some things that you weren't expecting — maybe even some things you don't like. But it's better to know, so that you can look at ways to change any negative perceptions. For example; if someone says you can be intimidating, ask for specifics — is it the way you speak, your body language, your voice? All feedback is useful, and can help you to make sure that people are seeing your best you. 

What are your interests?

Having interests is important — not only do your interests say a lot about you, but they also help you to make connections with other people. And when it comes to planning your future, you're more likely to be successful and feel fulfilled in a career that aligns with something you're personally interested in. 

  • Do you love sports? Maybe you should pursue a career in sports administration, or something like personal fitness or coaching. If you're keen to take an academic route, a career in sports science or even as a sports physio might suit you.
  • Are you into science? Many careers of the future will be in scientific fields, and there's a huge range of careers to choose from! Perhaps you would like to work in a laboratory testing, analysing and creating things? Or maybe you also have an interest in the environment — you could become an environmental scientist or work in conservation. The options are endless! 
  • Do you love technology? The obvious career would be in information technology and communications — maybe as an IT specialist, a programmer, a software developer or game designer, or even in cyber security — but most jobs require a level of tech savvy, as technology is fast becoming part of many industries such as mining, engineering, building and construction and in the business world. 
  • Are you a fashionista? How about a career in fashion design? You may also enjoy working in a retail fashion store, or even in a field such as journalism for a fashion magazine. You could turn your passion for fashion into a fantastic career!
  • Do you love being outside, in nature? Great — there's so many career paths you could take! Conservation and land management involves working in environments such as rivers, oceans and on land and offers a range of job opportunities. Or perhaps you would like to work in agriculture — on a farm, growing crops? There's also the horticulture industry, which also offers a range of job opportunities. 
  • Do you love animals? Perhaps a career as a veterinarian, or as a vet nurse? Or you could study to be a zoologist, or work in animal rescue, or even set a goal to own your own dog grooming business or run a hobby farm business. So many options!
  • Are you into food, or cooking? Maybe a career in hospitality would suit you — you could be a chef, or run your own catering business or even one day own a restaurant or bar. Hospitality is a huge industry in Australia, with a fantastic range of opportunities, so if you have interests in this area you should definitely consider it for your future career.
  • Do you love to travel? The tourism industry in Australia, and all around the world, is vast and diverse with a wide range of career options available. Although travel and tourism is impacted currently by the global COVID-19 pandemic, if you start planning now and do some training you'll be job ready when the industry comes back to life and the job opportunities are flowing. 

This is just a few examples... what's on your list of interests? Take a moment to note some of your favourites.

What skills do you have?

Fair enough you're still at school, so you may not have a lot of work experience yet, but you still have a whole bunch of skills already... maybe you just don't know it! As part of your lifelong learning, skills are gained through life experience — not just from education and training or work — so it's important to recognise the skills you do have as they are directly transferrable and relevant to any workplace. 

  • Do you do jobs around the house, like cleaning or mowing the lawn? 
  • Have you done things like babysitting, or been involved in things like fundraising or events in your community? 
  • Are you a handyperson? Do you know how to do things like minor car repairs or little fixes around the house? 
  • Have you done any volunteer work, or are you a member of a club or group? 
  • Do you use a computer at home or school? Are you a gamer? 

These are just a few examples of things that require skills — think about the kinds of things you have done or know how to do, and make a note of the skills you have used or gained through these experiences. 

Your values and beliefs

We all have personal values — things that we are passionate about, and things we believe in for ourselves and/or others. When considering your future plans, it's important to focus on the type of work that isn't going to compromise your values or conflict with your ethics in a way that you won't be comfortable with. Here are some examples.

  • Do you enjoy taking direction from others, or do you prefer to work more independently?
  • Is health and fitness important to you?
  • Are you a person of faith?
  • Is it important that you can have a healthy work-life balance?
  • Are you against testing products on animals?
  • Would you want to continue studying throughout your life, for example doing TAFE courses or going to university? 
  • Are you a vegan, or vegetarian?
  • Is family a priority, could you work long hours or be away from home?
  • Do you feel it's important that the work you do is valued?
  • Is it important that you will have opportunities for promotions and career progression?

Take a moment to note down any of your personal values and/or beliefs that could come into play for your future job and career. 

Employability skills

Every job has a specific set of skills that are required in order to carry out the technical aspects of the work we do. For example; if you work in IT, you'll need to know how about software and hardware. Or if you work in a trades area, you'll need to know how to use the tools and equipment. But there's a whole other set of skills that are equally important, and these are referred to as employability skills.

A young person in the workplace.
A young person in the workplace.

These are the skills that will help you to be successful in your career, to be productive and efficient, and be able to interact positively with your colleagues. 

They're called "employability skills" because although potential employers will look at your technical skills, they will be looking just as closely at these other skills to assess your suitability for the job.

  • Communication — Your verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and how well you use them in the workplace — this can include your ability to negotiate, and deal with conflict
  • Teamwork — Your ability to work with others and share tasks in the workplace, help others where needed, and interact in a positive way with your workmates
  • Problem solving — How you deal with issues and problems when they arise in the workplace, and your ability to come up with solutions
  • Initiative — Can you take the lead when needed? Are you able to figure things out, if nobody's there to ask? Are you able to come up with new ideas and ways of working, to improve processes? 
  • Planning and organising — Can you meet deadlines? Do you take a planned approach to completing tasks? Are you able to multi-task? 
  • Decision making — Are you able to make decisions when needed, by identifying and considering options and making the most appropriate choice? 
  • Self-management — Can you work independently? Are you reliable and trustworthy? Do you conduct yourself in a professional manner?

Core Skills for Work

The Australian Government's Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) has talked with industry and employers all over Australia about the skills they feel are important for a successful career, and put together a Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework which outlines key employability skills, in three main "skill clusters".

Within the three clusters are 10 skill areas, which are a combination of knowledge — what you know about, in a theoretical or abstract sense; understanding — how you link that knowledge to your personal experience; and skills — how you put your knowledge and understanding into practice in a work setting. These three clusters, and the 10 skill areas, are outlined below. 

Navigating the world of work
  • How you manage your career and work life
  • Your decisions throughout life about how, when and where to work
  • How you work with and understand work roles and workplace rights and expectations
Interacting with others
  • Using verbal and non-verbal communication skills to achieve work outcomes
  • Connecting and working with others — How you build the relationships needed to achieve an outcome within a workgroup, or through team-based collaborations.
  • How well you recognise and utilise diverse perspectives, and recognise and respond to differing values, beliefs and behaviours, to draw on diverse perspectives for work purposes and to manage conflict when it arises.
Getting the work done
  • Plan and organise — Are you able to identify and complete the steps needed to undertake tasks and manage your workload?
  • Identify and solve problems — Finding and solving routine and non-routine problems in order to achieve work objectives
  • Make decisions  — Considering options and making a choice from a range of possibilities
  • Create and innovate — Create, apply and recognise the value of new ideas to solve problems, improve or develop new processes, products or strategies, or deliver new benefits
  • Work in a digital world — Connect to other people, information and context for work-related purposes using digital systems and technology


Want to know more?
You can visit the DESE website to find out more about the Core Skills for Work Development and find out how well developed your skills are to help you understand what stage you're at in terms of your future planning, and where you could improve yourself in the skill areas.

Developing your employability skills

You can develop and improve your employability skills through lots of different activities and experiences — at school, at home, and other things such as your hobbies and playing sport. For example if you would like to develop or improve your communication skills, you could think about:

  • doing a presentation for your class at school;
  • interacting more with people of different ages and backgrounds, in social settings;
  • participating in meetings at your sports club; or
  • keeping a blog or writing stories for your social media, and asking friends and family for feedback. 
A diagram showing skills.

Useful resources to help with knowing yourself

If you would like to explore these areas in more depth, here are some resources that you may find useful. The better you know yourself, the more confident you'll be in your future plans. 

This checklist has a detailed list of both personal attributes, to help you work out how they relate to the skills and abilities you have to offer.

This checklist will help you identify the skills and knowledge that you already have gained through your life experiences.

This fact sheet provides more information about employability skills

The myfuture website has an interactive tool that can help you to develop self-knowledge, so that you can see how that fits into your future plans. It's free to use — you'll just need to register on the website to access it.

Career planning

Career vs job — What's the difference?

Maybe you're thinking "I just want a job, why do I need to plan for a career?" or you're wondering what the difference is between the two. The simplest way of explaining it is that a career is a lifelong thing — it's your long term working life, and for most people it will involve several different jobs. Changes in the way we work have brought about changes in the way work and life fit together, and the term “career” has broadened to reflect these changes.

A job is work you do to earn money. It can be short term, or you may do the same job for a long period of time. You might need to have certain skills, but not all jobs require a qualification or specialised training. Some people will have many different jobs through their working life, and even change jobs from one occupation or industry to another. Paid employment or a job is just one element of a career.

Joel has a job at a retail nursery.

Joel's job story

After leaving school in Year 11, Joel didn't really know what he wanted to do long term or for a career.

He travelled around Australia for a few years, picking up jobs along the way — mostly in hospitality and retail, which gave him a great range of useful skills and experience. His favourite job was working as a landscaping assistant, especially learning about different kinds of plants. 

When he returned to Perth, Joel was able to use his experience in landscaping to get a job in a retail nursery and so far he's enjoying it. But he's already thinking about doing something different — maybe getting a job back in the hospitality industry, because he likes that kind of work.

A career is a long term venture to achieve your professional goals and ambitions, and it can last for your whole working life. Most people will have a number of different jobs, and often different employers, as they progress through their career.

Your career includes all of your life, work, learning and leisure activities. If you are still at school, playing in your local basketball team and working casually at the local supermarket you have already started your career. Everyone has their own unique career, and you build your career and develop your skills as you accumulate life, work and learning experiences.

Sara has a career in software development.

Sara's career story

Sara always knew she wanted to work in software development, and her career plan started nine years ago when she completed a school-based traineeship in Years 11 and 12. She got her first job straight out of school, and since then she's had five other jobs — in two different companies — working her way up to her current role as a team leader.

Her next career goal is to become a project manager, and she hopes to reach that goal within the next two years. After that, Sara's planning to do some training so that she can specialise in software development for the medical industry as she's interested in that area, and then she plans to work overseas with one of the big tech companies. 

The key difference is that a career is long term and usually planned, and generally focused on one kind of work or in a particular field. Most people start with an entry level role before progressing through different jobs in their field so they can get the skills and experience they need to meet their career goals, where some people are happy moving from job to job without a particular plan for the future. Neither option is right or wrong — but we do recommend you do some career planning, to help you think about what kind of future you want to plan for yourself. 

While he was still at school, Cameron did a work experience program which gave him the opportunity to try out a range of different trade areas. This led to the offer of an apprenticeship, and Cameron is now a qualified heavy diesel plant mechanic specialising in electronics and technology. Watch this short video to hear more about Cameron's career story. 

Chloe spent ten years in the horticulture industry, before she chose to follow her dream of working with youth. She skilled up through a TAFE course, and now she's doing work that she loves. Chloe is already planning for her next career moves, and will be completing more training to grow her skills and knowledge so that she can reach those career goals. 

Do I need a career plan?

Whether you already know exactly what you want your future career to look like, or you're not completely sure yet what you want to do, putting a career plan together is a smart move. It can help you think about what you want to do, the goals you want to set, and what moves you need to make. And you can always come back to your career plan and adjust it — actually, we recommend that! The world of work is rapidly changing and your future plans may need to change with it, or you might change your mind and need to make adjustments to your future plans. So you don't have to figure out your whole future right now — maybe you could focus on a plan for the next two to five years after you leave school, or even the next 10 years, just to set yourself up with goals you can focus on as you plan your future.

So... what is career planning? What does it involve?

Career planning is a process of deciding what kind of career you want for yourself, thinking about what you'll need to do to achieve it, setting goals, and then identifying what you can do to achieve those goals. Career planning also involves matching up your own personal goals, skills and abilities with the type of work that will be satisfying and rewarding for you. 

There's a number of steps in the career planning process. Some steps might only need to be done once, where others will need to be revisited over time so that you can adjust or update your goals, change direction or look at different career options. Here we have broken it down into four steps — take a look.

Knowing yourself

Your career plan is very personal — it's about you, and your future. So it's important that it aligns with you... your personality, your values, and your interests. 

You first need to understand your smarts and strengths, your personality, the skills and abilities that you have, and your values and interests so that you can make good decisions for your future plans. 

You can also look at our Getting started page, for more information and ideas.

Finding out

If you're not sure what kind of work or career you want to focus on, you'll need to do some finding out. You could talk to people about their work and learning experiences, to find out about their career story.  Another option is to get some work experience to help you to find out more about you and your strengths and the type of work you enjoy. Casual work, work experience and work placements that are part of training courses and volunteering are all great way to explore the world of work.

We have over 650 occupational profiles you can browse through to look at different work and career options, and find out what might be needed such as training or a qualification. 

You can also look at our Finding out page, for more information and ideas.

Taking action

Once you have a plan, it's time to make it happen! This might mean enrolling in a course or going to TAFE or university, or going straight into applying for a job to kickstart your career. 

As part of your career plan, you should create an action plan so that you can map out the steps you're going to take to achieve your goals. An action plan will also help you monitor your progress and stay on track. Your action plan can include steps for a specific occupation or general career direction, study options, or any of the goals from your career plan.

Our Taking action page has more information about this, and also an action plan template you can use.

Skilling up

Because you're just leaving school, chances are you'll realise as you put your career plan together that you need to do some skilling up. But it's more than just now — you'll always be learning, whether it's through work and life experience or at TAFE or university... lifelong learning is key to a successful future.

You can take a look at the Study options while you're at school section of this page, to find out about a range of options you can consider for skilling up. 

We understand that all this might sound a bit scary or hard, but it shouldn't be — keep a positive attitude, and remember... this is about your future, and you want it to be great — right? Take your time, think things over, and ask for help if you need it. And you don't have to plan out your whole life right now! Focus on the short term, just to get your career plan started — you can always add to it later once you've achieved a couple of your goals. 

Exploring occupations

If you have some occupations in mind for your career plan, we have over 600 occupation profiles you can browse through! You can find out the kind of work involved, and what training might be required, and other useful information that could help with your decision making. To look for an occupation, use the keyword search option below, or visit our Occupation profiles page for other search options including an A—Z list.

Please note that the impact of COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation that will impact our ability to report accurate course information and employment trends at this time. Some employment trends and course availability information provided in occupation profiles may not be current.

Career planning — How we can help

We have put together a great range of information, resources and templates to help with your career planning. There's also a useful list of websites you can visit to learn more about career planning.

Free services at your local JSC.

Jobs and Skills Centres offer free advice, information and support with career planning. They can help you with all the career planning steps, and can even help you put your career plan together. They're also experts in all things jobs and careers, so they can help you get a resume together and look for work experience or a job.

Their services are completely free, and there's 15 JSCs across Perth and regional WA so there's sure to be one near you. Call your local JSC on 13 64 64, or use our map of WA to find your closest centre.

Study options while you're at school

Now's a good time to think about whether you want (or need!) to further develop your skills, knowledge and experience or do any further study once you finish school. Maybe you need some skills for the kind of job you're aiming for, or you want a trades qualification.. or maybe you're planning to start your own business one day. Or perhaps you're heading for Year 11 and 12, and thinking about options for your WACE.  Take a look at the following information to help with your decision making.

Vocational education and training

In today’s competitive job market, having the right skills and qualifications is important. Vocational education and training (VET) provides practical skills and knowledge aligned with the needs of industry and business, through nationally recognised qualifications, to prepare you for getting a job. 

VET programs can:

  • develop your employability skills (for example; communication and problem solving skills);
  • give you industry specific skills and an understanding of the world of work; and
  • help you to explore and plan your career options.

There are a range of VET courses available, and you can even do a VET course while you're still at school so that by the time you complete Year 12, you will already have a qualification. 

Who provides the training?

VET can be provided at your school, at a TAFE college or registered training organsiation (RTO), or in a workplace. Some VET programs use a combination of these training options.

What sort of qualifications can I get?

VET programs range from Certificate I and II level, which are designed to give you skills and knowledge to get started in your job and career, through to Certificates III and IV for more in-depth training and been Diploma and Advanced Diploma levels for specialised training and high level skill development. A VET qualification is recognised nationally, so wherever you go your qualification will be recognised.

VET or university?

For some jobs — for example; in the medical field, or teaching — you will need a university degree. University training is typically more academic in nature, with theoretical and group learning, with applied learning in labs when relevant. VET is more practical in nature, and covers a range of occupations including trades, to get you job ready. VET can provide excellent pathways into university; however for many people a VET qualification is all that's needed to get into a job or career. We recommend speaking to a career professional to help with the decision about which is the best option for the career goals you want to reach, or contact your local Jobs and Skills Centre on 13 64 64 for free information, advice and support about training and career planning. 

VET programs funded by the Department of Training and Workforce Development

WA TAFE colleges and some private VET training organisations are funded by the Department to deliver a number of fee-free places to secondary students, in industry supported VET qualifications that are aligned to the State's industry needs, to help students achieve their WACE. Courses that may be available are listed in the Department's VET for secondary students funding policy.

Please note that the options available for home-educated students are different. 

Please visit our Still at school? page for further information

VET programs for secondary school students

If you’re currently a secondary school student, you have the opportunity to study a nationally recognised vocational education and training (VET) qualification while still at school under a VET Delivered to Secondary Schools (VETDSS) program. If you do a VET qualification while you are a full time secondary student, this may also count towards your Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) so you can leave school with your WACE and a qualification — ready to kickstart that career! Some VETDSS options include paid employment as part of the program. 

What can I study?

There's a large number of VET courses available for secondary students — from agriculture and automotive; to hospitality and retail; through to information technology, healthcare and a range of trades — and your school will have different qualifications to choose from.

We recommend speaking to a career advisor or VET coordinator at your school to help with the decision about which is the best option for the career goals you want to reach, or contact your local Jobs and Skills Centre on 13 64 64 for free information, advice and support about VETDSS and other training options.

How does VETDSS work?

Depending on the qualification you choose, and the way your school sets up the program, your VETDSS program will work in one of the following ways.

  • Institutional-based training (IBT) — This enables you to complete a VET qualification without a formal employment arrangement. The training can be delivered at your school, or at a TAFE or registered training organisation (RTO) — or a combination of both — and your qualification likely counts towards your WACE.
  • Pre-apprenticeships and pre-traineeships in schools — These are Certificate II programs that give you the relevant skills and can provide a pathway to an apprenticeship. You will continue to attend school, but also attend training at a TAFE college or registered training organisation for your VET program. You will also be placed with an employer for on the job training, so that you can gain hands-on skills and experience. Both programs count towards your WACE.
  • A school-based apprenticeship or traineeship (SBAT) — These are employment based training programs for full time school students. With an SBAT, you  will get paid for your employment so not only are you gaining job ready skills and experience but you can earn while you learn. A TAFE, RTO or your school will provide training that complements the work you do. SBATs count towards your WACE.  
  • Aboriginal school-based training (ASBT) — For Aboriginal students, an ASBT offers two pathways: employment based training (as per a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship); or institutional based training. There is no cost to you for the training*
  • VET industry specific (VIS) courses — These programs combine a VET qualification with workplace learning and may contribute to the WACE requirements. 
Further information on these options is provided below.

*Some eligibility conditions apply, and you may need to pay for items such as tools or text books for your course. Please check with your school for information about this.

Aboriginal school-based training

The Aboriginal school-based training program (ASBT) is for Aboriginal students in years 10, 11 and 12. The ASBT program aims to help Aboriginal students gain the skills to keep studying after school or get a job. This program is a good option if you need to develop your skills a bit more before doing an Aboriginal school-based apprenticeship or traineeship. Finishing an ASBT course may help you get your Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE). 

There are two options:

  1. a training program to get you ready for work or further study; or
  2. an Aboriginal school-based apprenticeship or traineeship.

Both options are available in metropolitan or regional Western Australia; however, not all schools offer the ASBT program. You will need to check if it is available at your school. 

You will do your training at school or at a TAFE or private training provider, or a combination of both. Depending on the option you choose, your VET program may include part time employment for on the job training, and you will be paid for this. You will not pay any course or resource fees for your training, but you may need to buy tools, protective clothing and/or text books for your course. 

Aboriginal school-based apprenticeships and traineeships 

This option is available for full time Aboriginal students who are at least 15 years old and ready to do a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship.  As an Aboriginal school-based apprentice or trainee you will go to school, and do training at a TAFE or private training provider. You will also work part time, so that you can get on the job training and experience with support from an employer in your industry area — you will be paid for this. 

Please visit our Still at school? page for further information
Pre-apprenticeships and pre-traineeships in schools

Pre-apprenticeships (PAiS) and pre-traineeships in schools are Certificate II level qualifications that have been approved by industry as suitable for secondary school students. Both programs give you the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills to give you a head start on an apprenticeship or traineeship, but they will also give you entry-level skills and knowledge to help you find work and kickstart your career.

Pre-apprenticeships and pre-traineeships in schools are available in a range of trades and industries including automotive; hospitality; tourism and landscaping; and a range of trades areas including automotive, building and construction, electrical, manufacturing, hospitality, tourism, landscaping, health, and community services — to name just a few! 

In a pre-apprenticeships or pre-traineeship in schools program, you will attend school; do your training at a TAFE or private training provider; and complete a work placement with an employer in your chosen industry. With both programs, you can:

  • do your training while still completing your WACE, and receive VET credit transfer towards your WACE; 
  • gain valuable workplace experience; and
  • receive credit towards an apprenticeship or traineeship, if you choose to continue on this path and secure a job with an employer.

A list of pre-apprenticeships and pre-traineeships in schools is available here

You will not pay any fees for your pre-apprenticeship or pre-traineeship training at school, but you may have to buy uniforms, protective equipment, text books or trade equipment/tools if these are required for your chosen course. Please check with your school's VET Coordinator or career advisor for more information about this.

School-based apprenticeships and traineeships

School-based apprenticeships and traineeships (SBA or SBT) are paid employment-based VET programs — at Certificate II or III level. In an SBA or SBT you will be a full time student at school, and also be employed part time in an industry workplace for on the job training so that you can gain hands on workplace experience — you will be paid for this work. SBATs are an excellent option to kickstart your career in your chosen field.  Depending on how your SBAT program is set up, you will work and train on the job with your employer and may also train at a TAFE or registered training organisation for one or two days a week, and spend the other days at school completing your Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE). 

Because most traineeships are of a one to two-year duration, you may be able to complete a school-based traineeship through Years 11 and 12.

Apprenticeships typically take three years to complete; so you will have done a large portion of your apprenticeship through Years 11 and 12,  but you may need to fully complete it after you leave school. 

There's over 250 SBATs available in a wide range of industries and trades including manufacturing, electrical, tourism, building and construction, business, information technology, animal care, healthcare, engineering, automotive, sport, hospitality and retail and business, and in primary and food industries. For an up to date list of qualifications that are available as an SBAT in Western Australia, please refer to the Register of Class A/B qualifications and look for a "Y" in the "School-based" column.

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The Guide to Western Australian school-based apprenticeships and traineeships has been developed to help you understand more about how SBATs work, and what's involved in undertaking an SBAT while you're at school. 

The guide provides detailed information on the key aspects involved in a school-based apprenticeship and traineeship (SBAT) arrangement — including a clear explanation of how the employment component works — as well as a range of examples of SBATs in practice. 

It also provides links to fact sheets and other relevant information and websites.

Workplace learning programs

Workplace learning is a structured and formalised program for students in Years 11 and 12.

Through these programs, you have the opportunity to gain practical on-the-job experience through a work placement with an industry employer, which can give you valuable skills and experience in a field you're interested in. This also can contribute to your Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE).

Find out more on workplace learning from your school, or visit the School Curriculum and Standards Authority website.

Study options after school

 If you're planning on leaving school, but your future plans will require some further training or education, there's a range of options you could consider. Take a look at the following list. 

Pre-apprenticeships and pre-traineeships

If you would prefer to leave school to pursue your career goals, a pre-apprenticeship or pre-traineeship is an excellent option.

A pre-apprenticeship or pre-traineeship is a Certificate II program that includes a work placement component, coordinated by your TAFE or training provider. You will get industry specific training, combined with hands-on experience in a real workplace, to gain valuable industry skills and knowledge that will prepare you for employment and make you more competitive when applying for jobs or if you choose to continue on to an apprenticeship or traineeship. It also gives you an opportunity to find out whether a particular industry or type of work is right for you.

Do I have to do a pre-apprenticeship/traineeship to get an apprenticeship/traineeship?
No, there is no requirement to have completed a pre-apprenticeship or pre-traineeship before starting an apprenticeship or traineeship. However; if you do go on to an apprenticeship or traineeship you may receive credit for the units you have completed, which could shorten the time it takes to complete an apprenticeship or traineeship. Employers will also value the skills and knowledge that you have already gained through your pre-apprenticeship or pre-traineeship, which can give you an advantage when applying for an apprenticeship or traineeship.

There are many pre-apprenticeship and pre-traineeships courses​ on offer at TAFE colleges and training providers throughout Western Australia, in a wide range of industry areas. Please visit our Pre-apprenticeships and pre-traineeships page to find out more.

Right now there's a range of pre-apprenticeships and pre-traineeships with course fees reduced by half or more — with some under $200 — through the Skills Ready Lower fees, local skills program.

And with these qualifications, if you are aged 15 —24 and/or you're a jobseeker, you will pay no more than $400 annually for course fees. 

Apprenticeships and traineeships

Some types of work require specialist skills and knowledge or you'll need to be trades qualified — these jobs are offered through an apprenticeship or traineeship. In an apprenticeship or traineeship, you combine work with training for a nationally recognised qualification — you're employed, so you'll earn while you learn, and you come out not only skilled and experienced but also with a nationally recognised qualification. 

Apprenticeships typically take three to four years to complete and traditionally cover skilled trade areas such as automotive, engineering, electrotechnology, and building and construction. An apprenticeship is a structured program with a combination of on the job training, where you gain hands-on skills and knowledge, and off the job training at a TAFE or training provider. Your off the job training may be scheduled on a weekly or monthly basis (eg; one day per fortnight), or as a block release across the year — for example; you might work full time for six weeks and then do a two-week block of training. Upon successful completion, apprentices become a qualified tradesperson. You will be paid as an employee during your apprenticeship.

Traineeships can take between one to two years to complete and offer a broad range of vocational and occupational choices — anything from business and finance, human resources, multimedia and information technology, through to sport and fitness, agriculture, hospitality and civil engineering. A traineeship is a structured program with a combination of on the job training where you gain hands-on skills and knowledge, and off the job training at a TAFE or training provider. Your off the job training may be scheduled on a weekly or monthly basis (eg; one day per fortnight), or as a block release across the year — for example; you might work full time for six weeks and then do a two-week block of training. You will be paid as an employee during your traineeship.

To do an apprenticeship or traineeship, you must be employed. So how do you find an employer?

  • Contact your local Jobs and Skills Centre on 13 64 64. Your local JSC works closely with employers, and they know where the apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities are. They can also provide free information, advice and support to help you choose the best option for your career goals and even assist you with preparing a resume and applying for jobs.
  • You can go out and find an employer yourself, search for advertised opportunities, or contact a company directly. Many employers run regular apprenticeship and/or traineeship recruitment programs, so if you have a particular employer in mind you can check their website to see when the next opportunities will be available. 
  • There are a number of Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) providers in WA that are funded by the Australian Government to provide advice and assistance to help you find an apprenticeship or traineeship and organise everything to get you started. 

You can find out more on our Apprenticeships and traineeships page here, and there's also some great information on the Australian Apprenticeships website about finding an apprenticeship or traineeship; including some useful tips for how to approach employers.

Group training organisations

If you're considering an apprenticeship or traineeship, another great option is to go through a group training organisation (GTO). GTOs employ apprentices and trainees across a range of different industries — you are directly employed by the GTO, but they 'host' you out to an employer for work. This can be a great option as you may have the opportunity to work with more than one employer during your apprenticeship or traineeship — giving you a wider range of experience. GTOs are experts in hiring apprentices and trainees, and are regulated to make sure they are doing the right thing by their employees.

Step 1: Register with a GTO
You can look through our list of WA GTOs here, and check their information to find what industry/sector and/or type of apprenticeship or traineeship they specialise in. The next step is to register with the GTO (you can register with as many as you like) so that they have your details if a suitable vacancy arises.

Step 2: Recruitment process
You will have an initial interview with the GTO, so that they can find out more about the type of apprenticeship or traineeship you're looking for and discuss options. If you are suitable, the GTO will either offer you an apprenticeship or traineeship or let you know when one becomes available.

When you start your apprenticeship or traineeship, your GTO will help you prepare to meet your host employer. They will also provide any pre-employment training that's required; such as workplace health and safety, and the basic personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for the role. 

After you start your apprenticeship or traineeship, the GTO will assign you a field officer who will be your direct contact point if there's any issues or if you have any queries about your apprenticeship or traineeship. Your field officer will also monitor your training and work, and check in to make sure that everything is going smoothly.

All aspects of your apprenticeship or traineeship through a GTO are the same as any other apprenticeship or traineeship — it's really only the actual employment arrangements that are different; ie you are employed and paid by the GTO rather than by the company where you're doing the apprenticeship or traineeship. 

WA TAFE colleges

TAFE colleges are located across Western Australia, with over 55 campuses and over 1,000 courses.

TAFEs provide a range of nationally recognised and accredited vocational education and training courses, and offer an adult learning environment where you will receive mentoring and support from industry-qualified lecturers. 

Registered training organisations

There’s a number of private registered training organisations (RTOs) across Western Australia. These private providers offer a range of VET courses, and many of them also support VET in secondary schools programs.

Some private RTOs receive funding through Jobs and Skills WA to deliver subsidised training — their details are included on our course list so that once you’ve found a course you’re interested in, you can look for a private training provider that suits you.

WA universities

If your career plans are for a professional occupation — for example;  in the medical field, specialised engineering or computer science — you may need to gain a university level  qualification such as a degree.  

You can browse the following WA university websites to see what they offer.

You can also speak to your local Jobs and Skills Centre to find out about how vocational education and training (VET) qualifications can provide you with a pathway into university, and potentially reduce the amount of time it takes to get a degree. Call your local centre on 13 64 64 for free advice and information on training and career options. 

Other ways to build skills, knowledge and experience

If you're looking to build your skills, knowledge and experience to improve your career prospects — or to find out more about working in a particular field — there's other options you can consider.

Want to set up your own café one day? Skill up by learning the ropes at a local coffee bar to find out what it's like. Want to work in a world-renowned hotel or resort? Start at a smaller, less famous place and learn everything you can while you're there. Want to own an auto repairs business in the future? Try helping out a local mechanic to skill up with some hands-on experience.

Having work experience will make you much more confident when you go for that dream job.

Work experience
Although generally unpaid, work experience can be a fantastic way to get hands-on practical experience in a particular field or occupation. Employers value skills and experience, so this can give you an advantage when looking for work.

Internships and cadetships
An internship or cadetship is work experience combined with on the job training while studying for a professional, managerial or office career – similar to how people studying trades qualifications do an apprenticeship. An internship or cadetship can be done by secondary school students as well as those studying at college or university, and they're a great way to skill up. 

Internships are generally short term, and are usually unpaid. They may lead to employment with the company but there’s no guarantee of this. An internship or cadetship is a great addition to your resumé.

Doing volunteer work is like work experience, but it's usually with a group or community organisation rather than a business. For example; you could volunteer at an animal shelter, or an aged care home, or with an environmental group looking after waterways or bushland. Many hospitals and schools look for volunteers, as do charity organisations. Not only does volunteering help you skill up by getting hands-on experience, but you're also making a positive contribution to your community. 

Volunteering WA is a good place to start looking for opportunities.

When looking for work experience, and internship or cadetship, and even volunteering — make sure you have an up to date resume that you can leave with employers.

Your local Jobs and Skills Centre can help you put a resume together, and they can also help with advice about finding opportunities — their services are free, just call 13 64 64 to speak with your local JSC.

Do something related
Really want to be an information technology (IT) specialist? Skill up by getting experience on an IT help desk, providing support to computer users, and you can transfer these skills and knowledge when the right opportunity comes up to be an IT expert!

Want to be a nurse? Skill up by working as an orderly where you'll learn a lot about patient care and how hospitals run. This type of experience would be really useful when you apply to get into a nursing course. Maybe your career goal is to be an office manager, so try applying for positions such as an administration assistant where you can skill up and get experience that will enable you to work your way up to a management position.

Most people who are now in a professional role will tell you they started with something lower level and then worked their way up the ladder over a few years as their skills and experience grew. Apply this approach to your career plan — start small but think big — and you will be on your way to that dream job! 


If you would like to see a full list of all courses available for secondary school students as VET programs, school-based apprenticeships and traineeships, and pre-apprenticeships and pre-traineeships in schools; please take a look at the current VET Delivered to Secondary Students (VETDSS) register.

Check our Skilling up page for more information about training and other options to suit your career plan

And remember, your local Jobs and Skills Centre can provide free advice, information and support to help you reach your career goals. Call your local JSC on 13 64 64, or use our WA map to find your nearest centre.

Skills Ready: Free training and more

Skills Ready: Free training and more! 

Ready to boost your skills, get job ready, and kickstart your career plan? How about a free training course — yes... free! Or a free skill set with workplace-focused training  to get you job ready?

If you're a school leaver aged under 24 or a jobseeker, there's a whole load of free courses to choose from!

There's also 180  full qualifications with course fees at half price or even less — this training matches up with where the jobs are, and there's pre-apprenticeships and pre-traineeships on the list! And not only are course fees reduced, but if you're under 24 or a jobseeker they're capped at $400 for the year. 

There's never been a better time to get into training and get skills ready!

Getting a job

There's lots of good reasons to get a job straight out of school — maybe you need to earn some money, or perhaps you want to get into work and gain some skills and experience while you figure out what you want for you future and think about your career plan.  The good news is, there's lots of fantastic job opportunities right now in WA! 

We encourage you to visit the Getting that job section of our website to find out more about how to find, and get, that job.

Job Jumpstart is an Australian Government initiative designed specifically for younger people and school students, to help you work out what jobs might suit you, and help with your career planning.

You can access a range of useful information and resources — all free — via their website. There's even some tips and advice about creating a great resume, and help with choosing the best kind of work experience to look for.


Job Jumpstart.

Free advice, information and support

Being in your senior school years, and even leaving school is a big step into the next stage of your life, which is exciting! You want to make sure you make the most of every opportunity so that you can set yourself up for a happy and successful future, and that's a lot to think about.

Jobs and Skills Centres have professional career specialists who can help you every step of the way with advice, information and support to help you figure out your future plans. From career planning through to deciding on a training course, and even putting a winning resume together or applying for jobs — your local JSC can help.

All their services are completely free, and with 15 JSCs across Perth and regional WA there's sure to be one near you.