Apprenticeships and Traineeships

Apprenticeships and traineeships are a form of skills development that combine paid employment with training. Completion of an apprenticeship or traineeship provides a nationally recognised qualification as well as relevant work experience (which is highly valued by employers).

They can be undertaken full-time or part-time, and are also available through school-based apprenticeships and traineeships. Anyone of working age can undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship, and they can lead to qualifications at a range of levels.

There were 268,600 apprentices and trainees in training as at 30 June 2017, but enrolments have fallen in recent years (down by 5% compared with June 2016).

Apprenticeships and traineeships are the training pathway for most Technicians and Trades Worker jobs, and this occupation group accounts for the largest number of apprentices and trainees (168,000 or 63%). Apprenticeships and traineeships, though, are available for more than 500 occupations, including many non-trade occupations.

Apprentices and trainees, major group occupation, 30 June 2017

This pie chart shows the proportion of apprentices and trainees by occupation group at 30 June 2017. Technicians and Trades Workers 63%. Community and Personal Service Workers 12%. Clerical and Administrative Workers 6%. Machinery Operators and Drivers 6%. Sales Workers 6%. Labourers 4%. Managers 2%. Professionals 1%.

Apprenticeships and traineeships are offered in every industry but Construction provides the largest number (81,600 or 30%).

Apprentices and trainees, top 5 industries by age, 30 Junes 2017 ('000)

This bar chart shows the 5 industries with the largest numbers of apprentices and trainees. Construction 81,600. Administrative and Support Services 26,600. Other Services 26,100. Accommodation and Food Services 24,600. Manufacturing 23,700.

Apprentices and trainees are predominantly young (67% are aged 15 to 24 years). There are, however, good opportunities for older Australians. For example, 74% of apprentices and trainees in the Mining industry are aged 25 years or older.

Most apprentices and trainees are male (74%), although females, account for significant shares in industries such as Health Care and Social Assistance (88%).

Although apprenticeships and traineeships are available across the certificate levels, most students are enrolled in courses at the certificate III level (around 85%).

Do apprentice and trainee graduates do well in the labour market?

Apprentices and trainees generally have stronger graduate employment outcomes than the average for all VET graduates. In 2017, 81.2% were employed six months after graduation (compared with 77.7% for all VET graduates).

Their earnings immediately after graduation are slightly lower than the all VET average. The median annual income for apprentice and trainee graduates employed full-time after training was $47,000 in 2017 (compared with $55,000 for all VET graduates. Wages, though, have the potential to increase markedly over time for people who have completed an apprenticeship or traineeship, as they gain more workplace experience.

How do you get an apprenticeship or traineeship?

A number of strategies can enhance your chances of getting an apprenticeship, and there is support to help you explore options and connect with employers (see below).

The Department of Jobs and Small Business has undertaken research into the labour market for apprentices across five traditional trades groups (with the findings likely to be applicable to apprenticeships and traineeships more generally). The research showed that

  • there are a broad range of opportunities but most applicants do not satisfy employers’ expectations

  • many young people who apply do not show a genuine interest or commitment to the trade or have no real interest in being an apprentice.

Employers look for apprentices in a variety of ways, including online or via newspaper advertisements, by approaching schools and TAFEs and through word of mouth. In addition, employers are often approached directly by people seeking to become an apprentice.

Qualities sought by employers

If you have passion and a genuine interest in an occupation for which an apprenticeship or traineeship provides a pathway, this form of training might be right for you. If you are seeking to become an apprentice or trainee, you need to be able to demonstrate the qualities and attributes employers seek (see chart below), understand what being an apprentice or trainee entails and be committed to completing the full period of training.

A graphic that shows the qualities that make an ideal apprentice: has commitment, has a mature attitude, is reliable, has a positive attitude, has a strong work ethic, has good presentation, has genuine interest, and shows desire or passion.

Some employers value people who have completed a pre-apprenticeship course. These courses offer an introduction to a trade or industry and provide a better understanding of what it is like to be an apprentice. Completing a pre-apprenticeship course can demonstrate to an employer that you have an interest in, and a commitment to, completing an apprenticeship.

Get more information

If you are interested in becoming an apprentice, look at websites such as australianapprenticeships.gov.au or aapathways.com.au and explore your chosen industry or occupation and talk to career advisers, or the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network.

NCVER, Apprentices and Trainees; Department of Jobs and Small Business, Labour Market for Apprentices; NCVER, VET student outcomes

For more information see australianapprenticeships.gov.au