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Year 12 Structured Work Placements; What, Why & How?

15 February 2022   |   by Explore Careers

Whether you’ve done some work experience, nabbed a part-time job, or have never stepped foot in the workplace, year 12 is the perfect time to keep exploring and building those all-important building blocks towards getting work ready!

You might hear the term ‘workplace learning’ bandied about this year and wonder what it means.

Workplace learning is a broad term that covers work placement programs, including structured workplace learning and work experience. It might also include workplace tours, job shadowing and other related activities.

Workplace learning provides students with valuable opportunities to develop vocational skills, knowledge and attitudes in the context of real work environments.

Structured Work Placement vs Work Experience: What’s the difference?

While there are similar qualities between the two, there are also some key differences:

  • Structured Work Placement: These are linked to a Vocational Education and Training (VET) program. This program may be provided on the job, by a teacher or trainer in a school, or another training organisation. It needs to be directly linked to what you’re studying to help inform your skills and knowledge based on what you’re working towards. Structured work placements often require an additional assessment to meet VET qualification needs. These placements tend to be long term and integrated into your course of study; for example, you might spend one or two days a week focused on workplace study alongside classroom study.
  • Work experience: Work experience doesn’t necessarily have to connect to a course of study and can have a stronger focus on helping you develop the core skills needed within the workplace outside of technical or specialist knowledge. This includes things like time management, teamwork, communication and confidence. They tend to be shorter-term (one or two weeks) and are coordinated between your school and local employers.

What Happens When You Secure a Work Placement?

In both scenarios, your school will be required to conduct checks of workplaces and ensure that all relevant paperwork is completed – this usually includes Health and Safety checks alongside Risk Management Plans.

It’s important you take the time to read through any relevant forms and documents provided to you, so you understand:

  • Your right to undertake your work placement in a safe environment.
  • Your role, responsibilities and rights related to work health and safety in the workplace.
  • Procedures to follow if you experience illness, injury, unsafe workplace practices, bullying, teasing, violence, sexual harassment, alcohol or drug abuse, or any other issue that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • The purpose and goals of your work placement.
  • Any assessment or assignment requirements.
  • Your work hours, including days, start time, finish time and any scheduled break times.
  • Who you will report to and who will mentor you while on placement.
  • If appropriate, a set diary/calendar of where you will be based and who you will be working with (if working across different business areas).
  • Any financial compensation, support, or help where appropriate.
  • Any other specific requirements of the workplace provider, e.g. industrial safety matters.

This might sound like a lot right now, but we promise it’ll all make sense once you get started with the process! There might be quite a few forms to start with, but once all those are out of the way, you can get stuck into the good stuff!

Where Can You Do a Work Placement?

For structured work placements as part of VET courses, your school or training organisation will usually have many connections and contacts with local industries that have proven safe, supportive and valuable placement opportunities for students.

Likewise, for work experience, many schools have successful partnerships with local employers who they know will provide an excellent experience for students.

In most instances, it’s unlikely you’ll get to choose where you go, but many placement coordinators will speak with you to learn more about your goals and preferences with the aim to match you as best they can.

It’s essential to be open-minded, optimistic and motivated to take on the work placement opportunities offered – even if they aren’t an exact match, every placement will have something to offer if you stay open to it!

Many schools will also welcome you being proactive and sourcing potential placements for yourself; keep in mind that many are reluctant to do these in a family business unless there’s a really strong link to your studies.

Where to Find Out More & Get Started

The best place to start is with your teachers, work placement coordinators or year leaders – these people will know everything you need to find out more, start getting things in place and get the ball rolling!

Next Steps

To help you get started on this journey, we’ve compiled the following Work Placement Checklist!

This should give you a good overview of all the things you need to make sure you cover before, during and after your placement.

Be sure to add to these as you need – your teachers and workplace supervisors will undoubtedly have things to add!

Explore Careers Work Placement Checklist

The emphasis during work placement is always on trying to provide a safe, exciting and valuable learning experience.

Use the following to help you achieve this!


  • Make sure you have an up-to-date resume ready to go & impress potential employers!
  • Speak to your teachers or work placement coordinator about your options.
  • Find out when you will be able to undertake a placement (so you know how to prepare!)
  • Research potential employers in your desired industry.
  • Speak to any classmates who have completed a work placement for tips and advice.


  • Arrange the completion of the workplace learning agreement forms, including:
    • Agreement between the employer and you/your parents/the school
    • Health and Safety Form
    • Travelling Forms (where appropriate)
  • Complete the appropriate program of workplace preparation
  • Participate in a worksite-specific induction before commencing your placement
  • Do a trial run in the morning before your placement starts, so you know how long it takes to get there on time
  • Familiarise yourself with what procedures to follow if you are late or unwell


  • Behave as a worker while on placement, conforming to all the workplace rules and instructions
  • Remember, while on work placement, you are representing your school; therefore, school policies and codes of conduct apply at all times
  • Understand that the work placement may involve confidential and sensitive information which must be kept private
  • Wear the appropriate footwear/ protective clothing/uniform as expected by the workplace provider
  • Complete all activities, assignments, and written work required by your school and employer during your placement promptly.
  • Ask questions, be curious and make sure you get what you want out of this opportunity!


  • Ensure all necessary paperwork, forms or assignments are complete and signed off by your supervisor if needed.
  • Check with your school if there is anything you need to do
  • Ask for feedback from your supervisor and team
  • Thank your employer for their support and the opportunity
  • Update your resume!

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