We’re not going to sugar coat it. Some of the worst parts of your teenage years are caused by the stress that comes with school. A system of standardised testing and nation-wide competition doesn’t result in genuine learning, and the days of wanting to go to school are long past us.

The ATAR has ripped any and all enjoyment from learning (for most of us anyway). We don’t want knowledge, we want a good ATAR.

We sit in classrooms for six hours a day, five days a week. We learn from textbooks and PowerPoint presentations, rarely seeing our lessons in practice and having to listen to the teacher tell us ‘you will use this someday’.

But most of the time, ‘someday’ never happens and the facts and formulas we crammed into our brains the night before an exam are completely forgotten.

But what if it wasn’t like this? What if the school system wasn’t an anxiety-inducing race that pits students against each other? What if we didn’t have to learn about how the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell or what Shakespeare meant when he was writing Macbeth?

What if, instead of being forced to study subjects we didn’t enjoy or that we always flunked, we got to go out into the real world to learn? Imagine if we were actually learning, you know, instead of memorising dates and facts for an exam and forgetting them the next day.

Imagine if the students who learnt better with than hands than with their books were given a chance to prove themselves in ways that didn’t involve putting a pen to paper; who could show how much they knew without having to regurgitate an essay in a two-hour time limit.

Imagine if we got paid to learn. Like, a legitimate wage for learning new skills; skills that meant we earned a nationally recognised qualification.

Imagine if the entire school system followed the same model that apprenticeships and traineeships do. I’m not saying it’s the answer to all our problems, but it’s something to think about. Vocational education and training sometimes gets a bad rap, but for a lot of us, it’s a pretty solid pathway and gives us a chance to find a job that we genuinely enjoy.

If you’re one of the people who thinks that an apprenticeship or traineeship could be the perfect pathway for you, then we’ve got you covered. Our mates over at AGA are experts when it comes to employing and training apprentices and trainees and they’ll look after you.