Tips and resources to help navigate subject selection

Subject selection can be a daunting time for students and parents, but should also be an exciting one. We’ve asked Lyn Kenny and Sandy Edgar from the Skills and Pathways team for their expert insights and tips on how students can include VET in their pattern of study and make their elective subjects work for them.

Each year, NSW HSC students complete around 127,000 different patterns of study! With no generic blueprint for what topics to select, all these options can make a student feel overwhelmed. But with the right research, advice and planning, a good pattern of study can help set them up for their future career.

Before it comes time to select their subjects for years 11 and 12, students are often asked to think about their personal attributes; what they are good at, what they enjoy and if there are subjects that might align with this. Here are some simple conversation starters that a student could talk through with their parents or careers advisers:

  • What is your end goal?
  • What are your interests?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are your skills?

Students are encouraged to choose courses and subjects they are good at, have an interest in and can contribute to their future career goals. For students looking to kick start their career while still at school, including a Vocational Education and Training (VET) course in a student pattern of study can help them get ahead.

With decades of experience between them, Lyn Kenny and Sandy Edgar agree that whether it’s commencing a School Based Apprenticeship or Traineeship (SBAT) or choosing to study a VET course while still at school, there are many advantages to including a vocational education subject in a pattern of study.

SBATs are available to all Year 10, 11, and 12 high school students in NSW. There are a range of industry opportunities available, with over 200 SBAT qualifications to choose from. When completing an SBAT, students gain a nationally recognised qualification as part of their HSC. They also get paid to learn, as a trainee or apprentice, the SBAT student must be paid according to the wage rates and conditions of employment in the appropriate award or industrial agreement.

VET pathways offer a blended learning experience. VET courses can either be studied at school, referred to as School delivered VET (SVET) or through external training providers such as TAFE NSW, referred to as Externally delivered VET (EVET).

When it comes to selecting subjects in a pattern of study that support the inclusion of a VET course, students should consider the following questions:

  • What are the HSC eligibility requirements?
  • What are the requirements of each subject? Will you be required to submit a major work, or perform, as part of your exams?
  • What are the requirements of my VET course? Is there a minimum number of hours in the workplace?
  • How can this subject support my future career goals?

Key considerations from Lyn and Sandy for students during subject selection:

  • Make time to sit down with your school’s careers adviser and talk about how you can achieve your goals.
  • Studying a VET course that includes work placement provides the opportunity to ‘test drive’ an industry.
  • Completing a VET subject while still in school can assist with saving money on course fees.
  • Get a head start on your career, while in school. Data* shows that 35% of work placement led to offers of paid employment, either casual or part-time, School Based or full-time Apprenticeships or Traineeships.
  • Build your network, gain industry insights and develop your people skills before graduating in year 12. VET pathways help set students up for success as they provide an early introduction to life after high school.

Choosing the right subjects starts with a conversation. The resources below can help students and parents get a better understanding of vocational education pathways.

* RTO 90072 Public Schools NSW Ultimo

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