Not many Year 11 students can add the job ‘pet stylist’ to their resumes, but that’s the case for Mollymook’s Paige Barbaric, who started working part-time for The Pet Stylist in Ulladulla while completing a Certificate II in Animal Care through TAFE Digital.

It’s a busy schedule for the Ulladulla High School student who is also completing her High School Certificate (HSC), but 17-year-old Paige said doing a school-based apprenticeship and traineeship (SBAT) is the perfect balance of study and work, and gets her one step closer to starting a career working with animals.

“I wasn’t ready to leave school and all my friends and start a traineeship full-time, but doing a SBAT gives me the best of both worlds,” Paige said.

“I’m a practical learner and I’ve always loved animals, so it made sense for me to get a head start in my career while completing my HSC.

“It’s a really great way to ‘test the waters’ before making a life-changing decision like leaving school early and entering the workforce.”

SBATs are on offer to high school students in years 10-12 and combine paid work, training, and school - and as well as working towards an industry recognised national qualification, students also gain credit towards their HSC.

The latest data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) shows the number of school students undertaking vocational education and training (VET) as part of their senior secondary certificate of education has increased slightly in recent years.

In 2021, there were 251,200 students undertaking VET in schools compared with 241,200 in 2020, an increase of 4.2 per cent. Additionally, a total of 20,500 students were undertaking school-based apprenticeships and traineeships.

VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell said the school-based apprenticeships and traineeships model can be a game changer for both students and employers, with many regional businesses crying out for skilled workers.

“SBATs can provide students with a valuable head start in their careers, while at the same time giving participants an idea of the value of undertaking a VET career,” he said.

“SBATS also help address the skills shortages that we are currently facing in rural and regional areas.

“National Skills Week (21-27 August) is the perfect opportunity to get school-based apprenticeships and traineeships back on everyone’s radar.

“The theme for National Skills Week 2023 is: ‘What are you looking for?’ and if you’re not sure about the answer, come and see one of our VERTO consultants who can point you in the right direction when it comes to apprenticeships and training,” Mr Maxwell said.

For more information, visit or call 1300 483 786.


VERTO is a not-for-profit organisation delivering a range of apprenticeship, community support, employment and training services to assist individuals, employers and industries. We can be found in over 65 locations across New South Wales. For more information, visit



VERTO is a provider of the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network Program across all parts of New South Wales.


Whether you are unemployed and wanting to secure a job or looking to formalise your skills through study, VERTO has a course for you.
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