Work experience during high school
Work experience can help your child develop their job-ready skills and find out more about what different workplaces are like.
To do work experience as part of the high school curriculum, your child must be eligible for their school’s program and be at least 14 years old.
Work experience placements are organised according to the Workplace Learning for Secondary Students in Government Schools policy. You can find out more about the rules about work experience placements at Workplace learning.
Work experience placements need school approval and are unpaid, and usually last one to two weeks.
They should be tailored to meet your child’s needs, and can be offered in different ways - for example, your child can watch what happens at a workplace to see what it’s like, or the employer might come into your child’s school.
Some work experience placements might not be offered in week blocks, depending on your child’s needs and the availability of the placement.
Your child might already have a clear idea of what kind of work experience they would like to do. Part of the planning for your child's life after school includes identifying their employment goals, if it’s appropriate. Finding and participating in one or more work experience placements should be part of this planning.
If your child needs more guidance, the school’s Careers Advisor, Transition Advisor or other teachers can help, by talking to your child about local employers or businesses where they could find a placement.
You can also get involved by using your support network, and by encouraging your child to talk to family and friends to see if any of their workplaces offer work experience positions.
Work experience can look different for students with disability. For example, instead of completing a whole work experience placement in one week, your child may start with one hour a week of work experience, and build that up to a full day by the end of term.
Depending on your child’s needs, it may not be appropriate for them to go to work experience in some environments, but this doesn’t mean they should miss out on the opportunity.
They can take part in internal work experience - in the school office, canteen or library - and they can observe what happens in a workplace if they can’t participate.
Students also have to do mandatory work preparation activities before they start their work experience placement. Some students might need to do extra preparation, or have more discussions before they begin to make sure their placement is safe and that it will have the best outcome for them.
The person who signs off on your child’s student placement record is responsible for making sure that this preparation happens, and that the placement is safe for your child and for the other employees.
Adjustments and support
Your child’s school should talk to the workplace where they’re doing their work experience and tell them how they can best support your child.
It is very important to have this discussion about the support your child needs, and about the adjustments and support needed for them to do a placement safely. For example, this could include getting visual instruction, or being given instructions multiple times.
Sometimes, the support will be given at the start of your child’s placement, and then slowly reduced as your child settles into their position. In some cases, the school might send a School Learning Support Officer (SLSO) with your child to the work placement.
You, your child and your child’s school can make the decision about what is best for your child, based on their needs.