In recent years, the popularity of apprenticeships within the building and construction industry has had a resurgence in Australia. People are recognising apprenticeships as a rewarding experience, and a strong alternative to the large student debt you can incur throughout university. Apprenticeships allow you to learn a trade while also earning a wage, so there is an obvious upside to undertaking one. So, what’s involved in getting an apprenticeship and why should you want one?
What is an apprenticeship?
Before trying to start, it’s important to understand what an apprenticeship actually involves. When completing an apprenticeship, you’ll be learning a trade through a combination of education and employment. Almost anyone of working age can apply, and completing your apprenticeship will grant you a Certificate III trade qualification. An example of one such trade course is the CPC30211 Certificate III in Carpentry. Apprentices participating will be expected to complete twenty-two core units and eight elective units. During this time they will learn the necessary skills to safely use tools and equipment, such as:
- Nail gun
- Power tools
- Automatic and laser levels, etc
The course will run for three to four years full-time but it is also available part-time as well. If the apprenticeship is successfully completed the apprentice will be able to pursue a career as a carpenter and eventually apply for their building registration and licence.
First step: Narrowing down your trade of choice
While it can seem daunting to figure out which trade field you want to work in, there are many career resources available to help you make this important choice. One site which will help you learn as much as you can about the industry is the Australian Apprenticeships Pathways (AAP). This online treasure trove of links, fact sheets and information will give you plenty of reading material about the apprenticeship opportunities available in each state, as well as providing training and career information.
Your personal skills and interests will help determine which particular trade is best suited to you and your lifestyle. Whether you prefer working indoors or outside, have a love of working in teams or alone, whether you like building or decorating; all of these are factors to consider. Some of the construction trades you can become an apprentice in include carpenter, bricklayer, concreter, tiler, joiner, stonemason and plasterer.
Improving your chances of obtaining and apprenticeship
Once you’ve figured out which particular trade you’d be interested in pursuing, you have the option of undergoing a Cert II pre-apprenticeship course to improve the likelihood of an employer taking you on as their apprentice. Whether you’re wanting to become an electrician, bricklayer, carpenter or plumber, a pre-apprenticeship course will give you a better understanding of what to expect going into an apprenticeship as well as teaching you valuable trade-related skills. Completing a Cert II will help you stand out amongst the competition, and many employers will value the fact you have pre-existing skills. The Cert II pre-apprenticeship in building and constructing can cover many aspects of the industry and allow you to enter the building site with knowledge around the best use of tools and, importantly, safe work practices.
Becoming an apprentice
So, you’ve locked in your preferred trade and you’re thinking, what now? You have one of two options: you can approach a construction company directly to enquire about any available apprenticeships, or you can register with a Group Training Organisation (GTO). GTOs are usually run by an industry association and employ a number of apprentices at the same time and places them with one or multiple employers for a short or long term basis. As most apprenticeships aren’t advertised, the direct approach is often best, so polish up your CV and craft a personalised cover letter to show you’re serious. Construction companied won’t take on somebody who appears unprepared or isn’t eager for work. To find a Group Training Organisation near you, click here.
If you’re still struggling to find a willing employer, try searching the job vacancies ads online or in your local paper. Networking at local trade events or through friends and family with contacts in the industry is a another strategy, so make sure you’re out there talking to people. You can also try contacting a jobactive organisation in your area to help in your search.
Finding a school pathway program
Depending on whether you go through a GTO or a construction company, it will either be up to you, your employer or your organisation representative to decide on a registered training organisation to manage the schooling side of your apprenticeship. It is important to choose an RTO that offers a course that’s related to your career path, and has a solid industry reputation. For more information on apprenticeships, visit the Australian Apprenticeships website to find a support centre near you.
More on school-based apprenticeships and adult apprenticeships
It is possible to start and Australian Apprenticeship while you’re still at school, depending on the options available to you at your particular institution. Australian School-Based Apprenticeships are essentially a mix of vocational education, academic learning, paid employment and training; the course works with your current schooling system to help get you started on the path to becoming a qualified tradesperson. If you’re interested in learning more, make sure to speak with your teachers or career advisors at school.
In regards to an adult apprenticeship, these can be completed at any working age and do not necessarily require a completed high school qualification.
The incentives for an employer to take on an apprentice
So, you’re thinking about taking on apprentice. There are many advantages from an employer’s point of view to taking on an apprentice. There are various financial incentives available through the Australian government which benefit employers directly. These incentives are available to help support the development of particular skills in the workforce and contributes to economic sustainability as a whole. Trades that are currently experiencing skills shortages will invariably receive more incentives. Make sure you research the Australian Government Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Programme to find out if you’re eligible.