Real-world experience  

Smithton High School Grade 10 student Tamara Hursey takes on the role of journalist while talking to Year 11/12 co-ordinator Andrea Wilson and vice-principal Tim Dunham. Picture: Bodey Dittloff.

By work experience student Tamara Hursey

Involvement. Forty-seven Smithton High School students have dived into work experience over the past two weeks – the largest number in several years.

From working with a horse trainer in Spreyton to tasting life at the Mt Lyell copper mine in Queenstown, Grade 10s were given the opportunity to work in a range of different areas.

Smithton High School vice-principal Tim Dunham said the program is all about providing an “authentic, real-world experience”, giving students a unique view of the workforce.

“For some students, it validates that that’s what they want to do and often they’re more enthusiastic around education,” he said.

Mr Dunham added work hours are industry-dependent and would alter for those working in areas such as hospitality and dairy farming, with the general rule for students to work hours similar to that of a school day: eight-hour days with a one-hour break.

The initiative can be a lengthy and detailed process that begins six weeks beforehand, but after sending information to employers, Mr Dunham and year 11/12 co-ordinator Andrea Wilson received a great response with six new businesses offering to take on the Grade 10s.

After students have outlined their top three work preferences based on their own interests, they move on to the next step: “From there, we match the employer and the student, and then we make contact,” Mr Dunham said.

Once an employer has been chosen, the expectation is for the student to make contact to confirm their placement and sort out final details.

If a student fails to contact their workplace, they are not able to participate.

Yet the process doesn’t end there: while a student is on work experience, they can expect a visit from their teacher to see how they’re going.

Mr Dunham said the feedback so far had been positive, with students “conducting themselves well”.

“We have a great community in terms of different jobs, different industries,” he said.

“It’s great for our students to see what’s out there in the Circular Head community, and I think it shows the positives of employment in this region.”

Mr Dunham thanked the office staff for their role in organising work experience, adding the administrative side is something that “takes just as much time”.

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