Proposal to offer work experience-related subsidies and incentives

Employers offering work experience to students would be given tax incentives under a proposed industry push to boost career education.

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

Employers who offer students work experience would be given subsidies or tax incentives under a proposed push to strengthen career education.

The 30 October policy paper release from the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) revealed a plan to put forward 29 recommendations to improve the future of career services – both in Victoria and nationally.

These recommendations include adding a compulsory career subject to the school curriculum from Year seven, as well as delivering more practical work experience in all tertiary courses. Another recommendation aims to ensure every student leaves school with a career action plan.

The latest data from the Victorian Education Department data shows a growing number of Year 12 graduates are finding alternatives to attending university or doing a trade after high school and are, instead, heading straight into the workforce.

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And for those who do choose to head to higher education from secondary school, data shows significant numbers of students are not completing their TAFE or uni studies.

But with improved career advice available, the chamber says better choices could be made – informed decision-making that could help tackle the skills shortage that is hurting economic growth and productivity.

More businesses must support work experience

In a June 2023 survey carried out by the chamber, 98 per cent of employers agreed that work experience was important, but only 19 per cent hosted students.

In the same survey, 76 per cent of employers said substantive careers education should be in the school curriculum, including overlooked “employability” skills, including teamwork and self-management. Formal careers advice, the policy stated, should be delivered by trained careers professionals, rather than teachers. This training, the policy recommended, should be offered from Year seven, before school students are influenced by strong preconceptions about their chosen profession.

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For South Australian students in Year 10, up to 10 credit points can go directly towards their ATAR score, based on a tailored individual learning plan that aims to help them identify future goals and explore relevant career options.

In Victorian government schools, students receive career counselling and complete an annual career action plan from Year nine. Programs to support students to think about future careers are run for students in years seven and eight.

Chief executive of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Paul Guerra, said today’s students make different choices to students of previous generations, who often entered lifelong professions after going straight from secondary school to university.

“We need to help the students coming through understand the options, and the best way to do that is to work closely with the school system and to have the business community as an integral part of that.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]