Take a look at what's on offer in schools today and you'll be amazed at the range and variety of subjects and training possibilities, which complement an extensive list of academic subjects.
One in three NSW senior students now studies at least one vocational education and training (VET) subject as part of their Higher School Certificate (HSC).
Many of these courses are well known, like hospitality, construction and tourism, but students are increasingly interested in more diverse vocations such as aircraft maintenance, desktop publishing, animal care and events management. There really is something for everyone.
VET courses are now available for students in Years 9 and 10 to expand study options for teenagers. Students' work will count towards the School Certificate and/or HSC.
By taking a VET subject, students get a head-start on training - they receive a nationally recognised training qualification - and many courses also count towards admission into university.
There are more than 60 VET courses taught in schools, at TAFE (known as TVET courses) or by private training providers.
Research and evaluation of these courses has consistently found they contribute to more students staying at school to Year 12, often making school study more relevant and exciting when students can see there is an end point to all that hard work.
See the full range of VET courses at: www.det.nsw.edu.au/vetinschools/index.html
Students can now start learning a trade while at school, gain a nationally recognised qualification, be paid for the on-the-job component of the apprenticeship - and leave school with the HSC. Students doing school-based apprenticeships usually complete the equivalent of the first year of their apprenticeship in Years 11 and 12, followed by three more years of full-time employment and training.
By 2012 every NSW public school student in Years 9 to 12 will have their own laptop, loaded with state-of-the-art software. Year 9 students in 2009 were the first to receive their wireless-enabled laptops. Studies have shown that laptops provide the motivation to engage students in learning and to see the connection between what they are learning and the world beyond the classroom.
The Department of Education and Training's School to Work program operates in 480 public schools, reaching more than 170,000 students. It's a whole-school approach to career development and covers: planning transition pathways, exploring career futures, strengthening student outcomes through vocational learning, and building networks and connections.
The program helps students to start planning for their future and to connect what they learn in their subjects to career options.
Students take part in the Student Pathway Survey, which encourages them to think about their future and their confidence in making their plans happen.
Work education is a subject that can be taught from Years 7 to 10. It provides a set of broad learning outcomes that summarise the knowledge, understanding, skills, values and attitudes for students to succeed in life after school. Students learn about communicating ideas, working collaboratively and understanding the work environment.
This is part of the high school curriculum where students from Years 9 to 12 gain practical experience of workplaces. It helps students learn quickly about the changing nature of work, the attitudes and skills employers are looking for, what careers and opportunities are available and what training and further education is needed.
Work Studies is taught in Years 11 and 12 and helps students see the links between education, training, work and lifestyle, and the economic and social factors that affect work opportunities. This subject develops students' skills in accessing work-related information, career planning, presenting themselves to potential employers, and functioning effectively in the workplace.
This subject is available to school-based apprentices and trainees. It gives students between two and four units of credit towards their HSC for the 'on-the-job' component of their school-based apprenticeship or traineeship. Students are assessed for the HSC on their log of tasks and activities related to the course and a reflective, descriptive journal of their learning in the workplace.