4 Benefits of School-Based Pre-Apprenticeships

4 Benefits of School-Based Pre-Apprenticeships

Brought to you by Swan Christian College

Students in Year 10 can find themselves under a lot of pressure from schools, their parents and peers to decide what they are going to do for the rest of their lives. Some find the idea of two more years in the classroom daunting and consider dropping out of school in Year 10. Did you know that they don’t have to leave school to start learning a trade?

Pre-apprenticeships in schools are Certificate II qualifications that allow students to try out a trade while completing Year 12, without having to commit to a full apprenticeship.

Here are four ways in which school-based pre-apprenticeships can prepare your teen for the ‘real world’ while helping them graduate from Year 12.

1. Re-engage their interest through hands-on learning

While the percentage of students in Australia who complete Year 12 has steadily increased over the last few decades, school disengagement is still a problem with around 20% of students reportedly disengaged in classrooms. Disengaged students are particularly likely to leave school early and around 25% don’t complete Year 12.

Some students find it easier to engage in school when they can see what they are working towards through practical trade projects.

To Head of Swan Trade Training Centre, Matthew King, an environment that imitates the workplace together with industry qualified trade trainers leading students in project-based learning can help students rediscover an interest in their learning.

The 2019 VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year runner-up experienced first-hand what it is like to feel disengaged from school before discovering his trade career, and later on his teaching pathway.

“I was one of those students for whom traditional schooling didn’t really work. I left school feeling downtrodden and thinking that I can’t learn,” says Matthew King.

“I ended up doing an apprenticeship as an Electrician. I had a great relationship with my trainers and wanted to see if I could help pass what I know onto the next generation.”

Today, the Swan Trade Training Centre can draw on his experience to re-engage students in a school-based pre-apprenticeship program offering an alternative to traditional schooling while keeping students from dropping out of school in Year 10.

Swan Trade Training Centre graduate, Sophie O’Doherty, was considering dropping out of school and transferring to TAFE before she found out about the Swan Trade Training Centre.

“The trade centre allowed me to get a pre-apprenticeship and also graduate, which was a win-win situation,” says Sophie.

“My advice to Year 10s is to not give up and to not freak out because you have tons of options besides the traditional schooling pathway. The Swan Trade Centre is one of those awesome options which will give them some great opportunities.”

2. Develop their future-ready skills

Students who participate in a pre-apprenticeship program are exposed to much more than just trade skills. The work-like environment also helps develop future-ready skills such as collaboration, problem-solving and people management.

Swan Trade Training Centre graduate, Sophie O’Doherty, says that her pre-apprenticeship in Electrotechnology has built up her confidence. When Sophie completed the Certificate II course, she was the only female student at the centre which strengthened her resilience and prepared her for a male-dominated industry.

“Being the only girl in a class of 20-odd boys has really helped me believe in myself,” says Sophie.

“It helped me prepare for the job I’m in today, in many ways. It taught me to stand my ground, it taught me to learn how to bite back when needed and to respect my superiors, which is extremely important in my job.”

Other students at the centre told Matthew King that they were positively challenged by the trade centre environment which is run like a real workplace; saying that it helped them learn to think on their feet.

3. Help them stay connected to a supportive school community

A pre-apprenticeship in a school-based environment like the Swan Trade Training Centre means students don’t have to miss out on all the regular experiences that a Year 12 student would participate in: the ball, the graduation dinner, school camps.

Having the opportunity of completing the pre-apprenticeship at school, rather than having to miss classes to participate in course work at TAFE, helps students to stay connected with their peers and offers the confidence that comes with being part of a school community.

4. Provide the opportunity to ‘try before they buy’

At the very best, completing a pre-apprenticeship course during Year 11 and 12 gives students a head start on their chosen trade career pathway.

At the worst, it allows them to try out a trade while at school only to figure out that that particular trade is not their ‘cup of tea’.

“Even the worst-case scenario is much preferred to spending years in a full apprenticeship before figuring out that you’d rather be doing something else,” says Matthew King.

“A school-based pre-apprenticeship gives students the opportunity to have a go without the pressure of a full apprenticeship.”

“Nearly 100% of our graduates end up with an apprenticeship placement after school, and they find themselves in the apprenticeship with a noticeable head-start to their competitors.”

To help Year 10 students in their decision making process, the Swan Trade Training Centre offers annual ‘Try a Trade’ days which allow students to try out the three different trades on offer (Electrotechnology, Building & Construction, and Heavy Metal Engineering) before signing up for the Year 11–12 course.

Registrations for the next Try a Trade event close on 21 May 2021. Register today at swan.wa.edu.au/swan-ttc/try-a-trade.

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