Structured workplace learning (SWL) and work experience during COVID-19

Advice for all schools

Students can take part in Structured Workplace Learning (SWL) and work experience placements. Students who reside in metropolitan Melbourne are permitted to travel in regional Victoria for this purpose, and vice versa.

However, the Department of Health has recommended that SWL and work experience placements in high-risk settings (such as healthcare, aged care, meat works) be deferred until further notice unless they are required for assessment within the VCAL/VCE/VET or International Baccalaureate.

High-risk settings are generally defined as high-risk areas of increased risk/transmission (aged care/healthcare settings), high-risk industries (such as meat works) where there are known cases/high levels of community transmission, or a geographical area of high risk as determined by public health (such as exposure sites).

Students must be included in the density limits for the workplace and comply with any restrictions applicable to that workplace as well as the COVIDSafe Plan in place.

Conditions of SWL and work experience

SWL and work experience can only take place if the principal is satisfied that:

Principals should consider the following when deciding whether a SWL or work experience placement for a particular student should proceed:

  • The extent to which it would be possible and practical for a student to maintain physical distance at the placement in accordance with health advice.
  • The level of supervision an employer would reasonably be able to provide the student to ensure safety measures are adhered to.
  • The extent to which the placement could be regularly monitored by the school.
  • The personal circumstances of the student, including any medical conditions or medical advice about the student's suitability to undertake the placement.

Where these conditions cannot be met, principals should consider cancelling or deferring SWL and work experience placements until further notice. If SWL or work experience placements are deferred or cancelled, all efforts should be made to organise alternative arrangements for students.

Updated SWL guidelines and work experience guidelines

The SWL Guidelines for Employers (docx - 65.92kb) and Work Experience Guidelines for Employers (docx - 62.72kb) have been revised to include advice relating to reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. Schools should provide these guidelines to all employers before placements begin.

Student and parental engagement

For all SWL and work experience placements it's recommended that the student and their parent/guardian (if the student is under 18 years of age) complete one of the following documents, whichever is relevant, as an acknowledgement and agreement that COVID-19 may have changed the proposed work environment.

A copy of this form should be attached to the SWL or Work Experience Arrangement Form kept at the school.

Process for the cancellation or deferral of SWL or work experience placement

Where it's necessary to defer or cancel a SWL or a work experience placement, the cancellation or deferral takes effect by written notice from a principal to an employer. If a SWL or a work experience placement needs to be cancelled, all efforts should be made to organise alternative options for students.

For placements organised through the SWL Statewide Portal, amend the placement status to "On Hold" for deferred placements and to "Cancelled" for cancelled placements.

A sample written notice is provided below:

Dear (employer),
I am writing to advise you that in line with public health advice, SWL and work experience placements at (name of school) will be (cancelled/ deferred).
This applies to any placements that are currently in process or any new placements yet to commence. Accordingly, please note that the scheduled SWL or work experience placements of students at your workplace will not go ahead.
I would like to thank you for supporting workplace learning opportunities for our students. If you are willing to consider the possibility for placements to be re-scheduled for a later date, please contact (school SWL/work experience coordinator name & telephone or your local LLEN).
Yours sincerely,
Name of principal
Name of school.

Directions on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination

The Victorian Chief Health Officer has issued directions on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinationfor:

  • authorised workers
  • residential aged care workers
  • construction workers
  • healthcare workers
  • school and early childhood staff.

These directions also apply to students undertaking SWL and work experience at places that are the subject of these directions, or when undertaking SWL or work experience outside of the home in industries or occupations that are the subject of these directions.

For further information, refer to Directions on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination and requirements for Structured Workplace Learning and work experience.

More information and contacts

More information is available on workplace learning for secondary students.

The 31 Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLENs) have been funded to facilitate student access to structured workplace learning placements across Victoria. LLENs can provide support and advice on work experience opportunities and connections to local employers. To find your nearest network, visit Local Learning and Employment Network.

For advice on SWL within:

For queries about SWL or work experience placements, contact the Career Education Unit at career.education@education.vic.gov.au