Workplace Learning for Secondary Students in Government Schools

Workplace learning enables students to contextualise and achieve significant curriculum outcomes by accessing the skill and knowledge environment of participating workplaces.

Changes since previous version

2021 Nov 12 - updated policy statement contact details. In section 3.1, replaced Melbourne declaration with the Alice Springs Education Declaration 2020.

Document history

2020 Jun -mupdate to contact details, text and style.

Amended to reflect plain English principles.

Update responsibilities of employers and schools to reflect the Work Health Safety Act 2011.

Update the context of the policy document.

Reminder that duty of care includes preparing students for workplace learning.

A new section on using the DEC Incident Reporting Policy and Procedures in relation to incidents in the host workplace.

Superseded documents


  1. Policy statement
    1. Workplace learning programs are to achieve curriculum outcomes and enhance the vocational, educational and social development of secondary students enrolled in NSW government schools. Innovative programs are encouraged.
    2. Workplace learning programs include, but are not limited to, work experience, work placement for HSC vocational education and training (VET) courses, career and entrepreneurial learning programs, community learning and student mentoring programs conducted by employers in the workplace.
    3. The department and the host employer hold a concurrent duty under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of students while engaged in a workplace learning program. This duty requires the elimination of health and safety risks where possible and if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate those risks, to minimise the risk so far as is reasonably practicable.
    4. The department and External VET (EVET) providers must, through their delegated officers, take reasonable care to keep all students undertaking workplace learning free from harm. Duty of care for students rests with the school where the student is enrolled and the EVET provider and extends to workplace learning placements even where there is no direct daily supervision of the student by a school or an EVET provider.
    5. Insurance and indemnity provisions of the department, as stated in the department's The Workplace Learning Guide for Employers, apply to workplace learning placements approved by the principal or nominee, and where relevant, also by the responsible EVET provider manager or delegate or nominee. Conditions apply, refer to the Workplace Learning Procedures and Standards document. However, those insurance and indemnity provisions do not apply to the paid employment component of school-based apprenticeships and traineeships.
    6. Regular and effective communication with parents/carers, support staff and with host employers, directly and through work placement service providers, is an essential aspect of all workplace learning programs. For school-based apprenticeships and traineeships, this also includes the training provider and the employer, or host employer where a group training organisation is the employer.
    7. A range of mandatory and support documents has been developed to assist in the implementation of workplace learning programs. This includes the Workplace Learning Procedures and Standards document that expands on the policy. See the Workplace learning section of the Career Learning and Vocational Education and Training website
    8. The department and EVET providers must ensure that students with special needs are provided with opportunities on the same basis as other students. This includes identifying and liaising with the workplace around adjustments and accommodations that students with disabilities may require.
  2. Audience and applicability
    1. This policy applies to all education and training organisations involved in the provision of workplace learning to students, aged 14 or over, in public secondary, central and schools for specific purposes, or EVET providers and school students undertaking VET courses with a mandatory work placement component.
    2. The policy also applies to community stakeholders involved in the provision of workplace learning including work placement service providers.
  3. Context
    1. This policy supports:
    2. The participation of local businesses, larger employers, industry groups, community agencies, universities, registered training organisations (RTO's) and intermediary organisations is an invaluable and essential aspect of the skill and knowledge environment available through workplace learning. Intermediary organisations are brokers between schools and employers. They include not-for-profit groups, government agencies or locally led networks.
    3. The nature of workplace learning, with its off-site learning locations and the participation of non-department personnel, poses risks to students that do not apply within the school. The department has a paramount concern for the safety, welfare and wellbeing of students while enabling this valuable approach to learning to operate effectively.
  4. Responsibilities and delegations
    1. Principals and where relevant, the responsible EVET provider managers, have the primary responsibility for approving workplace learning programs. They must take reasonable steps to ensure that students, staff, relevant registered training organisations (RTOs), work placement service providers, other intermediaries, parents/carers, and host employers are aware of their responsibilities in the implementation of workplace learning programs.
    2. The department's duty of care for students cannot be delegated from the school or EVET provider to any stakeholder group involved in workplace learning other than in the situation of a student using privately undertaken regular paid, part-time work as an approved workplace learning placement. Duty of care includes providing suitable preparatory activities to optimise students' safe and effective participation in the planned workplace learning experience. The department's duty of care does apply to the implementation of school-based apprenticeships and traineeships.
    3. Engagement of work placement service providers, other intermediaries and host employers is subject to collaborative input and advice from local principals and the responsible EVET provider manager and their nominated or delegated staff.
    4. Parents/carers are responsible for providing a reliable emergency contact for their young person where the student undertakes workplace learning outside normal business hours.
    5. Pathways and Transitions is responsible for publishing and ensuring the currency of the policy on the department's policy library website.
    6. Users must verify the currency of this policy by reference to the department's policy website.
  5. Monitoring and review
    1. Principals and the responsible EVET provider managers or delegates are responsible for monitoring and evaluating workplace learning programs.
    2. The implementation of workplace learning programs must be reported annually, or as required, to the school and where relevant, EVET provider.
    3. Schools and EVET providers are required to report incidents involving the safety of school students, including near misses, while they are undertaking workplace learning in accordance with the department's Incident Notification and Response Policy.
  6. Contact
    Director, Pathways and Transitions
    0439 458 160

    Leader, Senior Pathways
    02 7814 3739
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