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What was new at the Expo this year?

The SkillsWest Expo was great. There was more to see and many exhibitions had activities to play with.

The big give away this year was bucket hats. Fourteen year old boys were seen with a dozen hats teetering on their heads.

Strangest Stand – Queensland Police

Maybe they don’t get West Australian news in Queensland. WA Police are seriously working to recruit new police officers, and here were the Queensland police recruiting at OUR Expo.

For information about jobs in the WA police service go HERE.

Metal Fabrication Goes High Tech

I thought metal fabrication was a hammer and a sheet of metal, not computer driven.

Metal Fabrication at North Metro TAFE

Metal Fabrication at South Metro TAFE

WorlsSkills Competition

This year it seemed easier to see the students competing in WorldSkills.

Mervyn has won GOLD at the national WorldSkills Competition. Congratulations!!

Women in Building Support

Women represent under 5% of those working in building trades.

Women Building Australia supports women trying to break into well paid jobs in building trades.

McDonalds Traineeships

McDonalds were there again promoting their traineeships and jobs for young workers. McDonalds gives great training to young staff so they are worth considering when going for part time jobs.

Jobs and Skills Career Services

North and South Metro Jobs and Skills Centres were there with a prime spot just inside the entrance. They were introducing the career advisory services to students and helping those who had time to ask for advice.

Specialist Employment Services

There were several providers of career advice and job finding services to school leavers, like impact services.

Great Work

There was almost too much to see at the Expo. With such a significant event, visitors might need to do more preparation so that they don’t miss information that meets their needs.

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In Focus Careers News for West Australian schools provides educators and familieis with news about emerging career opportunities in Western australia.

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Don’t get stuck at school if you hate it. There’s a better path for you.

WRONG WAY: Just stop going to school.

  • People from the Department of Education will chase you up to find what’s going on.

  • You will cut ties with your friends and your support network of teachers, student services, VET coordinators, career advisors at school. 

  • You could end up alone and feeling lost. 

BETTER WAY: Do this preparation.

Leave School Early


Step 1: Talk with family and friends

Don’t shock your family and friends by just dropping out of school. They will get upset and add to your stress. 

Talk with them, flag the idea of leaving school early. Ask what they think. Get their ideas and support. 

Step 2: Get expert information

Your Mum’s best friend or your maths teacher is not the expert that you need right now. There’s a lot to know about leaving school. Talk to an expert whose full time job it is to know about career pathways.  

This mind map provides links to expert information about leaving school in WA.  Play with different links to see what’s available. Write down questions to ask your career advisor. 

Meet with your school career advisor

Take a list of questions. 

  • If you don’t know what you want to do, they will explore different opportunities with you. 
  • They can help you to get a job application ready. 
  • They can link you with an apprenticeship/traineeship company that employs lots of apprentices. 

Jobs and Skills Centre free information and advice

Jobs and Skills Centres are co-located at TAFE colleges. There are 17 across WA and they provide free information, advice and support. 

Industry Training Hubs

If you live in the Wanneroo or Armadale areas, engage with the Industry Training Hub. They are set up to help students to engage with people from different industries to find out what is involved. 

Private Career Practitioners

Look up “career practitioners” in your “suburb”. There will be career practitioners who can be employed to guide you through the process from school into a job or further study. 

Step 3: How to leave school

  • Get your career advisor and family to help you to arrange a full-time job, enrol in a full-time course or a combination of both. 
  • Get your parents to fill out an Exemption from full time schooling and submit it to your school.

It needs to go to the Minister for Education. They won’t come back with a flat “no” but you may be asked to add some more information to your application. 

Once you have permission you can leave:

  • Get a copy of your latest report.
  • Get references from supportive teachers.
  • Check with the front office to see if you have forgotten anything. 

Say goodbye to your life as a school student 


Common pathways from school

1. Nursing

2. Computing pathway

There are so many computing jobs. Learn the hard, foundation, boring stuff. It will put you way ahead of others who focus on pretty, creative computing. 

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In Focus Careers News is the ultimate solution for high school career news and advice. With 150 West Australian high schools already subscribing, our newsletter provides unbiased and up-to-date information on a wide range of career options.  Don’t miss out on this valuable resource – subscribe now and give your students the career guidance they need to succeed.

Bev Johnson Director, In Focus Careers

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How is chatgtp going to change career education?

I asked chatgtp How is open AI going to change career education?

The Response: 

OpenAI is an artificial intelligence research lab that aims to promote and develop friendly AI in a way that benefits humanity as a whole. The potential uses for AI in career education are vast and varied, and could have a significant impact on how people learn and prepare for jobs. Here are a few examples of how OpenAI and similar technologies might change career education:

  1. Personalized Learning: AI systems can analyze data on an individual student’s learning style, interests, and progress, and then use that information to create personalized lesson plans and educational resources. This can help students learn more effectively and efficiently.
  2. Virtual Career Counseling: AI chatbots can simulate human-like conversations, providing students with personalized career counselling, answering students’ questions, and providing guidance on choosing the right career path, job search and interview preparation.
  3. Automated Content Generation: AI can be used to generate educational content, such as quizzes and practice problems, which can help to supplement and enhance existing curriculum.
  4. Intelligent Tutoring Systems: AI-powered systems can offer one-on-one tutoring, providing students with instant feedback and guidance as they work through problems and exercises.
  5. Automated Evaluations: AI can help automate the process of evaluating student work and providing feedback, freeing up teachers and professors to focus on other tasks.

These are just a few examples of how OpenAI and similar technologies might change career education. However, as with any new technology, it’s important to consider the possible ethical implications and ensure that it’s used in ways that are fair and equitable.

How can we keep up?

We need to work together and support each other as we create and unearth new ways to do our work. Please share your ideas so that we can all keep up with this. 

  • Over the past couple of weeks, Kim Flintoff from Learning Futures Network has been posting heaps about this on his LinkedIn and Facebook pages. 
  • I am sharing information on the CDAA WA LInkedIn page.
  • I have followed @herfteducator on Twitter as he is sharing some great ideas. 

If you know of any other ways that we can work together on this can you please share them with us?

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Bev Johnson Director, In Focus Careers

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Sending an apprentice to Bunnings for a can of striped paint is now against the law in WA

Workplace Initiation Rituals

Sending a new apprentice to Bunnings for a can of striped paint.

Forcing new employees to clean work toilets with a toothbrush.

Telling the new employee to drink goldfish water.

Just a bit of fun

Bosses laughed at these workplace initiation rituals which were designed to humiliate new workers. They were seen as “Just a bit of fun”.

Laughing at the new workers’ humiliation shows poor leadership and flags a shitty work environment. 

These “fun” pranks are called “psychosocial hazards” and they can impact on the physical and mental health of workers. 

Psychosocial hazards include:

  • bullying 
  • excessive work demands, and
  • poor leadership practices

It just got harder to ignore, overlook or explain away psychological hazards as “just a bit of fun”.


New Code to create great workplaces

There is a new Code of Practice called Psychosocial Hazards in the Workplace Code of Practice published by the WA Occupational Safety and Health Commission to support changes to the WA Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Implications for School Students

Work Experience

Doing work experience or work placements is usually pretty safe. Any organisation that is willing to volunteer to support your school has their heart in the right place. 

School based traineeships and apprenticeships

Students doing school based traineeships and apprenticeships may be more at risk as they are in the workplace longer and may be in workplaces where there aren’t many people.  

Part time work

Part time workers are most at risk. Young part time workers have low status in the workplace and are vulnerable to being treated badly.

Get to know the Code of Practice so that you know what your rights are.  Part time workers are usually not members of a union so they can’t relay on support if they are treated badly. The Code of Practice is designed to support you and other vulnerable workers and you don’t need to be a union member to get this protection. 

You can check out the list of things that the Code is trying to stop in Section 2.

Long term career impacts

There will be workplace procedures set up so that employees have someone to talk to about bad work practices. Workplace inductions will need to make sure that new workers are aware of how to make a complaint. 

There will need to be plans to eliminate toxic work practices. 

Hopefully support for young FIFO workers will improve, women will face less harassment in mining sites and isolated workplaces will need to be safe for all workers.

Check Psychosocial Hazards Overview HERE. 

Thanks Danielle

Danielle Kabilio told me about these changes when we were having a coffee last week. She is a Psychosocial Coach at Careers West and is helping workplaces to put in new systems and managing grievances that must be addressed under this Code of Conduct.

She sent in information and links for me to pass on.

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Bev Johnson Director, In Focus Careers

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Leaving Year 12? These Gap Year ideas may interest you


“Sometimes you just have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down.” ― Kobi Yamada                                                             

It takes courage to take the leap from school and out of a supportive education and training world. These gap year ideas may help you to build your wings.  

Volunteer Overseas

Projects Abroad

With projects based on the edge of the world’s best safari and close to Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s no wonder that Tanzania is one of our most popular destinations.

We’ve been based in Tanzania for over 12 years, giving us time to cultivate meaningful placements. Why not explore this magical country and leave a positive impact of your own?

In Tanzania, you’ll help support Maasai communities. Consider the following options:

These projects are available to people of all ages, so get involved! For more insight, read Laura’s story of her experience volunteering in Tanzania.

Check out opportunities HERE. 

Work Overseas

LetzLive has opened up its working holiday opportunities in the UK, Thailand, USA and New Zealand. 

Check out the programs provided by LetzLive.

Travel Australia

Harvest Trail

The horticulture industry relies on people to pick their fruit and veggies. In the past the pay and conditions have been shocking, but the pandemic caused the industry to change work practices. The Harvest Trail is a more regulated employment trail for nomads. 

You can find Harvest Trail jobs HERE.

You can apply for Relocation Assistance HERE


If you’re 18-25 and looking to start a career in a meaningful and exciting industry, an AgCAREERSTART gap year will help you gain skills and knowledge to grow the farms of the future.

4 young farm workers walking and talking, next to a red vehicle

Over 10-12 months you will live in an exciting regional location, earn a nationally recognised qualification and build life-long industry connections.

  • Get hands-on experience

  • Increase your confidence

  • Work outdoors and discover rural and regional Australia

Find out more HERE

CBH Employs 1000 people on the wheat bins

This is from the CBH site:

Working as a CBH harvest casual is a great opportunity to explore, live, work and immerse yourself in regional Western Australia (WA) for a short period of time while earning decent wages.

CBH manages sites all across regional WA where our growers deliver their grain once it has been harvested, and each year we recruit a pool of harvest employees to help us keep these sites moving, getting growers and transporters in and out safely, quickly and back to harvesting.

Check out the opportunities HERE. 

Hospitality and Tourism

The boom in tourism within Australia is being slowed by the shortage of workers in resorts, coffee shops, motels, road houses and caravan parks.

Sandfire Roadhouse

Look for these jobs on sites like Seek or phone/email the local tourist bureau and ask where to find a job in the area.

If you are 18 you can earn more money serving alcohol than cleaning or serving in a cafe. You will need your Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate to be able to work serving alcohol.

If you can find a job in a resort or motel chain, take that, it is more likely to pay sick leave, holiday pay and superannuation. Wherever you get a job, make sure your pay and conditions are legit. Ring or email the Fair Work Ombudsman if you need to check.

Work on a Station

Can’t ride a motor bike or muster cattle? Maybe you can make scones or serve coffee. 

Ellenbrae Station, halfway between Derby and Kununurra, sells thousands of scones to tourists who travel up the Gibb River Road every year.

Ellenbrae Station Scones

Most stations supplement their incomes through tourism.

If you can clean you can probably find a job supporting the station tourism industry. Look for jobs on sites like Seek.


Gap Year in Defence (skip this section if you don’t want to try defence opportunities)

The Australian Department of Defence provides a structured, paid path to discover lots of stuff. 

You meet lots of new people from different places and find out about their lives. You will probably make friends for life with people you meet at this time.

You get to leave home without having to pay for rent, electricity and food.

You learn new skills. Trying lots of different roles and learning new skills will help you to decide what you like and don’t like, without spending time and money at uni or TAFE.

You find out about life in the army, navy or air force.

You can check out Defence Force Gap Years HERE

Army Reserves – if you would like to serve part time

If you want to do something really different on a part time basis, while helping the community and giving something back to our country, you can apply to join the Navy, Army or Air Force Reserve. There are a range of Reserve jobs in every category, so please check the entry requirements on each job page. Find out more HERE.


Need Experience?

Once you leave school it is tricky getting work experience as employers aren’t insured to cover unpaid volunteers.

In Western Australia you can apply for volunteer work through Volunteering WA. People put in requests for volunteers to them and they place people and cover them through the Volunteering WA insurance.

The Volunteering WA people said that when you first start with them they are careful of the sort of work they let you do until you have proven yourself.

Free Tips

Youth Central 

Check out Youth Central. It’s a Victorian Government site that has clear, unbiased tips on taking a gap year.

How to Prepare for a Gap Year – Tips from Omio

Omio has sent me a link to their Gap Year Guides which delivers great resources to prepare for a Gap Year.

The guide contains detailed information on:

  • The benefits of taking a gap year

  • How to organize a gap year step by step (e.g., accommodation, transportation, entry requirements & travel restrictions)

  • Itinerary suggestions and tips for travelling in Europe on a budget

  • Volunteering in Europe (10 suggestions)

  • How to successfully find and apply for an internship in Europe

You can find all the articles here:

Good luck with your plans for 2023.

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Bev Johnson Director, In Focus Careers


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Are you going to uni next year? Find out where, what, when and who you want to meet.

You can use the skills you developed when coming to high school to guide your transition from high school to uni.

12 year old girls

Tip 1: Where

Online Study V On Campus 

Get your student number and connection to the internet sorted. You will be given instructions about how to do this around Christmas time with the offer that comes after the final TISC results come out.

If face to face classes are available on campus, go to them. Uni is so much more than curated information about different subjects.

Lecture theatre

On Campus Accommodation

If you CAN stay on campus, do that.

We want students to stay at the on campus accommodation, whether they are from South East Asia or South Perth.

Professor Harlene Hayne, Vice Chancellor Curtin University

St Catherine's College, Curtin

St Catherine’s College Curtin

There are people employed by residential colleges who have knowledge, networks and power to create an amazing university life for you. You will make friends for life, get help with study and create networks that will lead to jobs. 

$$$$$$$$: Check accommodation scholarships HERE.

Public Transport

If you will be taking public transport to uni, figure out the best route and timetable and find out how to get your SmartRider ticket.

Tertiary SmartRider



Not being able to find parking when you are under pressure can break you.

Get your parking stickers/app during the holidays. Find where you can park and where to find parking during peak hours. Try to find free parking, although most good free spots will be taken by students who have been at uni for a while. D7 at Curtin Bentley — StudentVIP

Campus Layout

Go to movies, food van markets, play sport or join clubs on campus. Each baby step you make to become familiar with your uni will make your transition easier.

Walk around the campus. If you are doing engineering, go to the engineering building. Check out the room and lab locations. Find the library.

Whatever course you are doing, find your buildings and know where your classes will be held BEFORE Orientation Week.

Tip 2: What Subjects

If you aren’t certain which subjects to take,  do a uni prep course – its free and it will help you to make better subject choices. You will be able to go to the same campus as your friends who are leaping into their degree straight away, and you will learn enough to be clear about what course you want to do before you start your degree. 

  • About 30% of students change courses as they find out more about their degree. This is an expensive path to take. Each subject/ unit at university will cost around $2000. You can check how much each unit will cost on the UWA Fee Calculator.
  • Only 26% of university students go straight there from school on their ATAR results. Consider taking a gap year before you go to uni. You will expand your world and get clearer about what you want to do next. Check out Gap Year Ideas 
  • If you are worried that you won’t ever start to study again if you stop studying after Year 12, go to uni and choose broad subjects that allow you to specialise later, when you know more about the course or working in that industry.
  • In response to COVID disruption ALL universities in Western Australia have significantly increased the amount of support that is available to future students. Use the free career advice that is available at every university.

Tip 3: When – Timetable

Lectures, tutorials and workshops will be scheduled throughout the week. You choose your timetable.Your school timetable is a good model to follow when choosing your class times.

Treat uni like school. Organise your timetable so that you go to uni every day. Don’t be tempted to pack your scheduled times into a few days and just go during scheduled times. Spend your “free time” doing your research and assignments. 

If you treat uni as a job, with a 40 hour week and some good study planning you are on a good path to success. Schedule breaks where you meet your friends and where you play sport or engage in club activities. A mix of work and play is what you need to have a great time at uni. 

Tip 4: Friends

The friends you make at uni can stay with you for your entire life. 

There will be so many people to choose from. If you go to Curtin, there will be about 50,000 people to choose from. If you go to Notre Dame in Fremantle, which is our smallest uni,  you will have about 6,000 to choose from. 

If you pick clubs or sports or volunteer activities from the amazing choice that is available, you will find friends there who have the same interests as you. You can join clubs during Orientation Week. 

If you arrange to stay at university accommodation you will meet lots of new people there. 

So just 4 Tips

  1. Decide what uni to go to and how to get there.
  2. Decide what to study, or at least choose a path that will help you to decide. 
  3. Look at timetables for this year. The chances are that they won’t change much next year. You will be able to draft your study timetable  before Orientation Week. 
  4. Look forward to meeting a bunch of new, wonderful people who like doing the same things that you do. 

Get clear, unbiased career information for West Australian school students and educators.

Subscribe to In Focus Careers News. 

To subscribe email:

Pathways from High School Video Presentation for Senior Students
Get on track to uni in WA 2023
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Get on track for uni in WA for 2023

Get on track for uni in WA 2023 is designed for parents of Year 12s so that they can help their kids to get into the right course, at the right uni, and make a smooth transition from school.

It is divided into 5 clear steps:

Step 1: Making the right career choice

Step 2: Which uni is best for you?

Step 3: How to apply to university

Step 4: Money Matters

Step 5: Give yourself every chance to succeed


  • A poster of Senior School Language
  • A Year Planner with a month by month To Do List
  • Tables of easy to read information with links to the right website for more details
  • Appendices of more information.

Get on track to uni in WA 2023 is designed to support you through you path to the right course in the right university in 2023.

You can get a copy HERE.  

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Do you want to study medicine in WA?

Medicine student

In Western Australia, three universities offer medical degrees.

Post Graduate Medicine at UWA and Notre Dame

The University of WA and University of Notre Dame offer postgraduate medicine. You have to do one degree and get outstanding results in order to qualify to apply.

The advantage of postgraduate medicine is that you have two degrees, and these can enhance your career prospects. For example, if you studied pharmacy or physiotherapy before undertaking medicine, you would have additional skills and knowledge when both studying medicine, and later when practicing medicine. With the huge competition for places for medicine, it’s critical to think about your first degree being an area you would want to pursue. For example, if you were genuinely interested in pharmacy or physiotherapy, and did not gain entry to medicine, you’d have a career path that you were already qualified and interested in.

To be competitive for postgraduate medicine, you need to choose an undergraduate degree where you can achieve top grades. Most postgraduate medical programs list the ‘grade point average’ (GPA) you need for entry. For example, UNDA requires an overall GPA of 5.4 or higher. Postgraduate entrants come from a broad range of discipline areas, not just science-based programs.Medicine studentUndergraduate Medicine at Curtin

Curtin is the only uni in Western Australia to offer undergraduate medicine. You apply to go into Curtin medicine straight from school. 

Both post graduate or undergraduate pathways have additional testing and interview processes to narrow down the field to those who are accepted as outstanding candidates. Getting into medicine is competitive, in 2022 Curtin had 2700 applicants for 100 places. 

In Australia, most applicants for medicine apply across the country to attempt to gain a place, often relocating to undertake their studies.

There are significant cost advantages to an undergraduate entry to medicine. You finish your degree in five years, and have a student debt for five years (not 7 or 8 years). Overall, that cost difference is in the vicinity of $20000 (5 years vs 7 years). You are also working two years earlier, so have an income sooner.

Find out more about medicine at UWA HERE.

Find out more about medicine at Notre Dame HERE. 

Find out more about medicine at Curtin HERE

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Subscribe to In Focus Careers News and share the information across your school community. 

Cover of February 2022


The annual subscription rate for an organisation in 2022 is $299.

Individual subscribers are welcomes at a significantly reduced rate. 

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So you want to be a doctor, but you live in the bush

If you want to be a doctor but you live in the bush, your chances of winning a place in a medicine degree are improving. The Curtin Medical School Ambassador Alumni scheme engages current Curtin medical students to help students in rural, regional and remote schools who would like to apply to Curtin Medical School.

To find out more go to to Curtin Medical School.

Schools that want to engage with the program should contact the Curtin Medical School Rural Academic Lead, Professor Keith McNaught.

Curtin Medical School support for future RRR students

Curtin Medical School (CMS)  has a deep commitment to produce doctors to work in rural locations.   CMS fully appreciates that the lack of doctors in many rural areas, a particular issue in Western Australia, results in poor health outcomes for rural residents.   CMS is also acutely aware that there are real and significant challenges for rural young people, wanting to study Medicine, and being educated in rural areas, often with significantly less opportunities than city-educated students.   Rural students often have less Career Guidance advice, and may not realise that Curtin offers a rural entry pathway to Medicine with additional ATAR score weightings for rural students.

Curtin Medical School at Bunbury Careers Expo

In 2021, Professor Keith McNaught, the CMS Rural Academic Lead, worked closely with the President of the Curtin Rural Health Club, Jarrad Burgess, to develop and pilot the Alumni Ambassador program.   The program was designed to have current Medical students, with a rural background, volunteer to promote studying medicine, in their home towns, or in towns and locations where they had connections.

Keith had generated a list of target rural schools across WA, and then Jarrad and Keith matched student volunteers to those schools and beyond.  There were 26 volunteers, who will be visiting 35 secondary schools in 2021.   The volunteers all do their school visits whilst they are at home on breaks, so there are no costs associated with running the program, except to visit those locations where an Alumni Ambassador is not available.

When the partner secondary schools agreed to be involved, they nominated a school contact person, who is the liaison person for each Alumni Ambassador.   The school visits have commenced, and feedback has been resoundingly positive.  Second-Year student, Ipsita, was involved in a school visit where she connected with an outstanding Year 11 Indigenous student, who is now linked to the Medical School’s Admission Officer, as she charts her personalised pathway to Medicine at Curtin. 

Alumni Ambassador visits are most often to Year 10 and 11 classes, with schools usually aligning this to a science class.   With Year 10 classes, the Alumni Ambassadors talk about the benefits of the rural entry pathway, and the subject selections recommended for Medicine.   Year 11 presentations also focus on UCAT testing, so rural students are aware of the process and timeline, which will occur during Year 12, and also of the scholarships to assist with the costs of completing the UCAT testing in Perth.   Importantly, secondary school students are referred to the website, where they are can obtain up-to-date information about Curtin’s Medical and Health Science programs and have links to access further information.

Whilst it will be some years before the impacts of the CMS Alumni Ambassador program are fully known, there have been immediate benefits noted.   Secondary school partners have had increased contact with CMS staff, and applications for UCAT scholarships tripled from 2020 to 2021.  There are few things as motivating for a rural student as seeing their peers, who they know from their school and community, studying Medicine, and being aware that it’s a real study and career option for them too.

This report has been supplied by Curtin University.

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Year 12. Thinking of a law degree next year? Think again.

judges desk with gavel and scales

There are more law graduates in Australia each year than the total number of lawyers in Australia.

It may take you years after you graduate to find a job where you practise law.


Not only are there too many law graduates for the job vacancies that are available, you can get advice on how to write your will online. You can file for divorce online. Artificial intelligence delivers instant information that law degrees take years to deliver.

People don’t go to lawyers if they can save themselves money by doing law themselves.

person holding black ceramic pig coin bank
Photo by cottonbro on

The cost of a law degree is now over $70,000.

The demand is down. The price is up. There is a glut of law graduates looking for work.

You might think again about doing a law degree.

Law degrees deliver great thinking and analytical skills

If someone with a law degree applied for a job I advertised, chances are they would get an interview. The job probably wouldn’t demand law work but I would presume the applicant could problem solve, think of good wording for contracts and warn me of any dodgy stuff that was in paper work. Someone with a law degree would probably be a good employee.

On the other hand, someone with a business or commerce degree may be better for my business, AND their degree would have cost them half as much.

Make Smart Decisions

If you bought a car for $70,000 you would check out a few car sales places before you made your decision to buy.

five assorted color cars parked inside room
Photo by Sourav Mishra on

All universities in Western Australia deliver law degrees. Pick two or three universities and make an appointment with career advisors. Check out what law degrees you can specialise in. Compare the different courses and support that the different unis deliver…. there is a big difference between the support provided by unis in WA.

Ask current students questions about the courses on Whirlpool.

Compare employment statistics for graduates.

Law degrees are great, but they are expensive and chances are you will never work as a lawyer.