School-based Apprenticeships: Better Futures Start Here
Walking the torque: School-based mechanical apprentice, Lachlan, with Karina Doolan, Head of Department - VET at Corinda State High School.
For MIGAS, engaging with schools isn’t just about identifying raw apprenticeship talent - it’s about empowering young people to take their career into their own hands.
We spoke with Karina Doolan, passionate student advocate and Head of Department - VET at Corinda State High School, about how school-based apprenticeships help create self-esteem and build in success.
“School-based apprenticeships are really important to our school,” Karina said.
“Students who haven’t chosen an academic pathway such as university get thrust straight into adult working life when school finishes. This can require an enormous adjustment, but with a school-based apprenticeship, they receive real-world experience plus mentorship and support, not just from the school itself, but also from MIGAS.
“All this prepares them for life after school, and I like to think it also helps promote retention in a trade so the individuals finish their apprenticeship once they leave school.”
Helping Students Reengage with Learning
“Unlike the school system of, say, ten or more years ago, students today are presented with a myriad of pathways to a future career,” Karina said.
“Often, for students who experience disinterest in schooling, participating in a school-based apprenticeship can be the key to re-igniting their interest in their education.
“Considering the ages of the students, they may not be ready to leave school, but don’t necessarily want to be there either.
“We often find that for students who start a school-based apprenticeship, school becomes less intimidating because they have a different outlet.
“And, interestingly, it doesn’t detract from their academic work. If anything, it increases their engagement in school, in work and their future. They become more motivated because they have direction, and they are taking control,” she said.
Apprenticeships are for High Achieving Academic Students Too
As well as the students who are not particularly academically inclined, apprenticeships also appeal to high-achieving students, as Karina explains.
“One example is students who are achieving a high level of mathematics. Some will elect to do an electrical apprenticeship, for instance, because it gives them a unique perspective on the industry, which they can take with them when they further their career.
“We have some school-based apprentices working towards their Diploma of Business alongside their apprenticeship. It’s a really nice mix to move into that trade space and have a Diploma as well.”
One student from Corinda State High School started his school-based mechanical apprenticeship in Year 11 while also completing his Diploma of Business through the school. By the end of Year 12, he had completed one whole year of his apprenticeship and, upon leaving school, was moving into his second year.
“He was really motivated,” Karina said. “It’s this kind of result that demonstrates to other students that they can do it too.”
A Stepping Stone to a Bigger, Brighter Future
“Apprenticeships provide skills that a person will have for life,” Karina said.
In terms of advice for students considering a school-based apprenticeship, Karina believes it’s important they research their chosen industry and what’s involved in it.
“They should spend time doing work experience and speaking to people in the industry. I always advise students to try things out for themselves and to really look at where their strengths and interests lay and focus on pursuing a pathway that aligns with those.
“Research is not just about looking online, but also reaching out to people in the industry.”
This article was first published in Host Quarterly Magazine.