Should a teen start a trade apprenticeship after year 10 or finish year 12 and graduate with a Certificate of Education (aka high school certificate)? The answer will differ for everyone. This post explores options to consider.
In the past, finishing high school in year 10 and jumping into an apprenticeship was a common path to become a tradesperson.
It was what my father did to become a plumber.
He went on to run a successful plumbing business, while completing vocational training at TAFE on how to estimate and run a business.
My dad stayed in the plumbing industry all his working life.
This was (and still is) the norm for many older experienced tradespeople, however in recent years it’s becoming less common to remain in the one profession.
As of 2018, the average Australian worker will have 5 to 7 career changes in their lifetime.
So the question is, what will you do if you don’t have a high school certificate and wish to explore an alternate career?
A Certificate of Education is the minimum requirement for many jobs and courses should you decide to change your career path.
Some companies offering apprenticeships may require the completion of high school as a pre-requisite.
If you’re adamant about leaving high school after year 10 to start your apprenticeship, these pros and cons may be helpful.
Pros for Starting an Apprenticeship after Year 10
- Get a head start in your chosen career
- You may flourish mentally and emotionally in your new environment if the school atmosphere was getting you down
- A head start to earn money and see that income grow
- Progress to starting your own business sooner when your friends might be still finishing Uni
- Once complete, can set a pathway for further learning and development in your chosen trade
Cons for Starting an Apprenticeship after Year 10
- Away from school friends and a well supported community
- Will miss out on end of senior school events like graduation, school formal and Schoolies (most of these were cancelled in 2020 due to COVID19 though)
- Need to be organised when getting to different job sites using public transport as won’t be able to legally drive yet. You may need to take tools with you too.
- Won’t be able to take part in out of hours activities with workmates due to age restrictions
- Won’t graduate with a High School Certificate/Certificate of Education which is a pre-requisite for a career change or entry into alternate career courses
Legal requirements leaving school after year 10
If you’re a teen who decides to leave school after Year 10, you must take part in one of the following until you’re 17:
- Approved Education or Training with an RTO
- Full time work
The legal requirements differ from state to state in Australia so these will give weight to your decision.
Think about your future self
There is a saying in the corporate world which says “Eat the frog first”.
Meaning, do the task that you don’t want to do first so you can get on with what you enjoy doing after.
I personally see finishing your senior years of high school as ‘eating the frog first’ for your future self.
You don’t have to delay your apprenticeship either. You can start a school based apprenticeship which will allow to you get a head start on your trade qualifications. This will also work towards your Certificate of Education.
If you’re struggling with high school subjects which aren’t hands on, don’t be afraid to invest in a tutor who can help you. There is an assumption that a trade is all hands on. Most of the work is, but it is important for a tradesperson to have skills in Mathematics and English.
You will need to know how to read plans, measure to scale and use your mathematics skills for pipe sizing calculations and estimating, just to name a few.
Don’t underestimate how much value your last two years of high schooling will prepare you for your future.
At the same time, spending 2 years completing year 11 and 12 may not be the right decision for you. There are teens who’ve never looked back after completing year 10 and pursuing a full time apprenticeship. These positions can be competitive though so it’s best to start researching early.
If you decide to leave school after year 10, commit to the plan of fulfilling your apprenticeship obligations. By law, it is mandatory for you to do so if you are aged under 17.
If you’ve decided a trade apprenticeship is the career path for you but not sure where to next, check out these links to help you.