Options for teens wanting to leave school in Year 10

If your teen is considering leaving high school early, here is an outline of the options available to them for you to ...
If your teen is considering leaving high school early, here is an outline of the options available to them for you to discuss. Photo: Getty Images

When your teenager leaves school, it can be a daunting prospect – for both them and you. 

Whether they're entering the world of work, continuing onto further education or undertaking some travels, it marks a milestone and the start of a new chapter in the storybook of life.

We know that it's a time that will eventually come to us all, but for some parents it may come sooner rather than later.

Whilst many teens continue their education until Year 12, legally they're not required to do so. Australian law allows a teenager to choose to leave school at the end of Year 10.

However, there are conditions attached to this. 

A teenager leaving school on completion of Year 10 must remain in some form of approved education or training, or a combination of education or training and paid work until the age of 17.

So, what exactly are the options?

Apprenticeships are a really popular choice for school leavers as they offer teens the chance to train, study and earn money and can be undertaken on either a full time or part time basis.  

Undertaking an apprenticeship means that your teen will obtain skills in a trade or industry that will help them transition to the world of work. 


Provided the apprenticeship is completed, it will also give them a nationally recognised qualification that they can use throughout the country and even overseas.

Apprentices are paid in accordance with federal or state award rates and this will vary depending on the type of apprenticeship being completed, as well as the industry or occupation. 

The duration of apprenticeships also varies, taking anywhere from one to four years to complete.

There are multiple apprenticeship opportunities available within Australia across a variety of industries such as trades, hairdressing, hospitality, retail and health care. Apprenticeships are also offered within a number of big organisations. 

To find out if a certain organisation offers apprenticeships, it's a good idea to look up their careers information online or contact them directly. 

Alternatively, refer to a specialist resource, such as Australian Apprenticeship Pathways to see what's available and how they could help.

But apprenticeships aren't the only option for early school leavers. As an alternative, teens can also choose to undertake further study either through TAFE or another registered training organisation (RTO).

Known as VET (vocational education and training), these courses are available for study by students and, if undertaken at TAFE, can count towards part of the HSC – should your teen still want to obtain that.

If not, however, almost all of the courses offered by providers will lead to nationally recognised Australian framework (AQF) qualifications, presented in the form of either certificates or statements of attainment.

Some of these courses may also include a work placement that, like an apprenticeship, will provide your teen with hands on experience in the world of work. 

As with apprenticeships the options of courses available are endless. Depending on what your teen is interested in or what career path they may wish to pursue will dictate what they study. 

The beauty of this choice is that teens can opt to study more than one course at a time, or even partake in 'taster' courses that only run for short periods of time.

For example, a 3-week hospitality style 'taster' course could provide them with exposure to that particular industry, and includes a barrister certificate in recognition of their attendance and learning.

For some teens though the thought of further study in any kind of capacity may not be appealing. Instead they may wish to head straight into work.

Whilst there are jobs available in companies for year 10 school leavers, it's important to be aware that competition for them may be high and, invariably, most will require some kind of internal training or study at some time in the future.

As with apprenticeships, it can be a good idea to contact companies directly early in the year to see if they're hiring any school leavers or, alternatively, set up an appropriate job alert from a website such as SEEK. 

Whatever path your teen chooses to head down, there's sure to be stumbling blocks, obstacles and dead ends en route. But by discussing and understanding their options, you can at least help them transition from school as smoothly as possible.  The rest is up to them.