I liked school.

I might not have liked every book I read or everybody in my year group – and I definitely didn’t like every teacher, or every minute spent in their classrooms – but I did like the safety of it all.

I liked that I knew what I was doing every day, seeing the same people and catching the same bus and running down the same field. School was familiar. It was secure.

Whenever I thought about what would happen next, I admit I got pretty nervous. The stories you hear from your friends’ older brothers and sisters can vary; either they’re killing it doing exactly what they were born to do, or slaving away for a job they didn’t like or studying subjects they didn’t understand.

Finishing school is the first time you’re tasked with making such a big decision for yourself and there’s just so much pressure to make the right choice. Do the right thing and you’ll be happy and successful. Make the wrong move and you’ll regret it forever.

It goes without saying that to make the ‘right’ choice, you need to know what all your options are. That’s why we at Year13 are here to tell you about apprenticeships, through vocational education and training (VET). They’re a great study opportunity for anyone who’s looking to actually enjoy what they’re doing after high school.

We’re not just making this up; recent research shows that young people who did an apprenticeship reported a higher level of wellbeing than those on other post-school pathways.

Our own research backs this up as well. Over the years, you guys have told us that in Year 12 most of you felt ‘stressed’, ‘anxious’, or ‘frustrated’.

Only 30% of you said you felt ‘excited’ about your final year.

How does this stack up to when we asked those of you doing an apprenticeship? Well, we’ll let the answers speak for themselves

So, why is this?

Apprenticeships are a pretty unique way to study because you’re actually learning by working. You’re employed by a company and they train you how to do the job, along with working towards a nationally recognised VET qualification. So not only is the learning practical (you’re not chained to a desk) with loads of workplace mentoring, you’re actually earning money at the same time.

The NSW Government has also made apprenticeships fee-free, which means there are no upfront costs for the apprentice or the employer, and with over 120 courses available across a range of industries, you’re bound to find something that you’ll love doing.

Love to tinker with gadgets and machinery? Train to be an electrician. Spend your arvos meal planning and reckon you could give the MasterChef winners a run for their money? There are apprenticeships in cookery and hospitality. Got a bit of a green thumb and give all your friends advice on looking after their li’l succulents? Go for landscaping or horticulture. There’s apprenticeships in your classic construction trades if you’re built to build things (like carpentry or bricklaying), but there’s also a tonne courses available in things you wouldn’t expect like hairdressing, engineering, jewellery making and jockey racing. 

You can check out all your options plus get some more info about what fee-free apprenticeships are. Or check out the top 20 apprenticeships in NSW.