With the HSC results being released, Shoalhaven school leavers are being urged not to forget about TAFE.
The NSW Business Chamber 2019 Workforce Skills Survey has reported that 61.8 per cent of businesses with skills shortages are unable to recruit suitable staff and that they are carrying more job vacancies in 2019 compared to 2017.
Across the Shoalhaven and South Coast commercial cookery, plumbing and disability services are just some of the industries experiencing ongoing skills shortages.
TAFE NSW regional general manager, Jonathan Davis, said TAFE NSW works closely with industry to ensure it's delivering a pipeline of skilled employees, equipped with the practical skills and work experience that employers are looking for.
"Considering the range of fee-free training opportunities available, such as the NSW Government Smart and Skilled and Fee-free apprenticeships initiatives, there has never been a better time for school leavers to pursue a career in industries with employment and career progression opportunities," he said.
He urged school leavers to take advantage of fee-free training to equip them with the skills they need to secure jobs with local employers who are crying out for qualified employees.
The Joyce review of vocational education noted this year that stakeholders were concerned that students who would otherwise thrive in VET (Vocational Education and Training) careers are being directed towards higher education options where they may not succeed.
"While university may be a viable option for some school leavers, it's important that vocational education and training is considered a 'plan A' for school leavers to pursue careers in areas that they are passionate about," Mr Davis said.
Bomaderry Bowling Club catering manager David Edwards welcomed the push by TAFE NSW to encourage school leavers, and their influencers, to consider the range of career opportunities in the Shoalhaven.
"There is a strong demand for workers in the food and catering sector locally," he said.
"I've had two apprentice jobs available for four months and I'm looking for chefs all the time.
"We're a growing business; we have always had three apprentices but we are now looking at putting on two more.
"While we still offer favourites like the roast and the schnitzel, our menu is always evolving to help bring people into the club.
"There's plenty of variety in our kitchen, no two days are the same around here."
Mr Davis has also taken the opportunity to reassure school leavers that, regardless of their ATAR, there are a range of degrees and pathways to higher education available at TAFE NSW.
To find out more about studying at TAFE NSW, phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au.