YEAR 12 student Samuel Harb hopes to play for the NRL one day, but knows he needs a back-up plan.

The School Based Apprenticeship and Trainee Program (SBAT) at Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College (SCCVC) in Burwood allows him to balance earning a  certificate qualification in construction, working as an apprentice, completing his HSC and the demands of competitive footy.

“I feel I learn better when it’s hands-on, rather than in a classroom just listening,” Samuel, who moved to the college from Trinity Grammar School, said. “The course is really good, and the apprenticeships help prepare us for life outside of school.”

The SBAT program enabled 45 students to take part in a Traineeship or begin an Apprenticeship last year alone and many more students sat their HSC at the college or completed single subjects.

Eleven Sydney Catholic schools pooled vocational educational funding to build SCCVC. While the program does not provide students with an ATAR,  Danielle Millar said the practical skills and work experience she’s gained at SCCVC have provided greater opportunities for her than academic study.

She began the SBAT program in hairdressing, but studying a Certificate in Health Services Assistance sparked a new passion and she now plans to change her focus post school and potentially attend university alongside classmate Katie Stevis who is also studying for that certificate.