School Leaving Age - Apprenticeships and Traineeships

 

General

Applications to establish an apprenticeship or traineeship by a young person need to be in accordance with the provisions of the NSW Education Act (Act). Under the Act, young people are required to complete Year 10 (or equivalent) and/or be 17 years of age before they can leave school and undertake a full time apprenticeship or traineeship. However, there are a number of exemptions to this policy.

Exemptions (schools)

The following requirements apply to all NSW schools:

  1. Young people who have completed Year 9, and want to leave school and undertake a full time (as defined in appropriate award) apprenticeship or traineeship, should lodge an application for exemption from enrolment at school with their School Principal. A young person who has not completed Year 9, and wants to undertake a full time (as defined in appropriate award) apprenticeship or traineeship may only do so under extraordinary conditions. They may lodge an application for exemption from enrolment for consideration with the Executive Director for the government school the child attends; OR for Non-Government schools, Child Protection Services, NSW Department of Education. For further details see Exemption from School Procedures policy.
  2. Young people who have or have not completed the equivalent of Year 9 interstate, and who have not commenced school in NSW (ie. don't have a NSW school principal), but want to undertake a full time (as defined in appropriate award) apprenticeship, should lodge an application for exemption from enrolment under special circumstance consideration with the Executive Director for the government school the child would attend; OR for Non-Government schools, Child Protection Services, NSW Department of Education. For further details see Exemption from School Procedures policy.
  3. Young people who have completed Year 10, but are younger than 17, may leave school if they are engaged in full time study, employment or a combination of the two (including an apprenticeship or traineeship). For these purposes, "full time" is defined in the Act as a minimum of 25hpw. No official application for exemption is required.

    Note: If a learner is working part time, that is, more than the 25 hpw minimum requirement, but less than the full time hours as specified in the appropriate award, then parties should indicate the actual hours of work/training AND "Part Time" against question 39 of the Training Contract. Parties also need to indicate a part time nominal term against Question 4 of the Training Contract.

Applications that need to go to the Executive Director should be lodged with the student's (or local) school.

Applications for Non-Government Schools, which need to go to Child Protection Services, NSW Department of Education, should be sent to attendance@det.nsw.edu.au.
 
NOTE: If a young person gains an exemption to undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship, and that apprenticeship or traineeship is cancelled before they turn 17, the NSW Education Act requires them to return to school.

Home Schooled Students

Home Schooled Students are required under the NSW Education Act to be registered with NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and engaged in a formal educational program up until the age of 17 OR completion of Year 10 curriculum. Home schooled students are not generally registered with NESA past this requirement being met. Home schooled students wishing to participate in the HSC and sit the HSC exams need to enrol with a registered secondary education institute i.e. school or TAFE at which time they transfer from being "home schooled" to being "at school".

A young person who is being home schooled who is under the age of 17 years and who has not completed the Year 10 curriculum may undertake a government subsidised part time apprenticeship or traineeship as part of their educational program without gaining any special permission. Such training arrangements must not be registered as a school based apprentice or trainee. Home schooled students applying to undertake a part-time apprenticeship or traineeship will need to provide a copy of their current certificate of home schooling registration when completing the Training Contract application.

A young person who is being home schooled who is under the age of 17 years and who has not completed the Year 10 curriculum may seek exemption from NESA to take up a full time apprenticeship or traineeship as an alternative to a formal educational program under the Education Act. The parent or guardian is responsible for lodging any documentation for exemption to NESA.

Examples

1. What happens if:

  • a learner has completed year 9, but not year 10; and
  • wants to do an apprenticeship.

Answer:  
An exemption is required from the school principal as the learner did not complete year 10 (or equivalent).

2. What if a learner:

  • was given an exemption to undertake a full time apprenticeship/traineeship;
  • which is cancelled before completed

Answer:  
An exemption from enrolment is provided to undertake a traineeship and/or apprenticeship. If the course is cancelled or student is withdrawn before they turn 17, the NSW Education Act requires them to return to school.

Further information

For further information or clarification regarding requirements under the Education Act, please send an email to attendance@det.nsw.edu.au.

Apprenticeship Network Providers – If clarification is provided by the Department of Education in relation to a learner's exemption, this advice together with exemption documentation is to be provided to Training Services NSW as part of the training contract application process.

Page last updated: 31 July 2019