13th June 2012
Employing Apprentices – “Made For Trade” Apprentices Explained
The trades have long been suffering irregular, if not poor, completion rates for apprenticeships and traineeships for some time. Industry completion rates have been reported to be around 50% for completion of trade based apprentices and trainees. There are numerous reasons as to why apprentices and trainees do not complete the terms of the contract. The NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training Fair Deal Report has broken it into four main personality profiles:
- Made for trades
- Contended stayers
- Accidental apprentices
- Square pegs
It is the first category I wish to discuss, “Made for trades”. These are the type of apprentices and trainees that walk through your door at the interview stage and the minute you start the conversation you know they are made for a trade. These individuals seem to have been cut out for the trades since they were young. Being “made for trades” are sometimes confused with the “accidental apprentices”, where their family members, or friend, are from a certain trade and they just simply think that they may as well “follow in my father’s footsteps.”
“Made for trade” type apprentices or trainees have been heading toward this vocation since a young age. A strong passion for industry, typically in the automotive trades for example they will be the type of people that would either own a motor bike or something along those lines. They are made for trades because they would spend every possible moment maintaining, adjusting or simply tinkering with an engine.
This passion then blends into reading and self educating themselves at a young age through books, internet and just sharing experiences with friends and sometimes association where groups share the same interest. They become so entrenched into learning more that they see the apprenticeship and traineeship structure a natural pathway to satisfy their hunger for the industry.
Interviewing an applicant of this nature sometimes makes you feel quite uneducated in the field, because they already have strong under pinning knowledge. They will often breeze through the recruitment phase with confidence, knowing it is simply a process they need to go through to achieve the first step in gaining an apprenticeship or traineeship.
They realise that the low wages and hard work at a young age as an apprentice or trainee is counter balanced by the fact that they are surrounded in the industry of their choice, and the realisation that they will now live and breathe it for the four years is a bonus. “Made for trade” apprentices and trainees do not see the structure of these terms of four years as a long period, rather a short period to learn as much as they can to become trade qualified experts in the field of their choice.
“Made for trade” apprentices are typically those types that are always the first to arrive at work and often the last to leave. When the companies they work in have their busy periods and the question of overtime comes up, they relish in it, not for financial gain surprisingly enough. They are like a sponge for more and more knowledge, working longer hours to gain more experience and see the opportunity as a way to become a better tradesperson after the apprenticeship or traineeship. Employing apprentices with these characteristics has a large benefit to any workshop, not only increased productivity, reliability or dependability. The best thing that “made for trade” profiles bring the workshop is a positive and committed attitude. I have seen in many various industries and many workshops the impact the apprentice or trainee has to the other workers, and I include trade qualified staff in that group. “Made for trade” apprentices and trainees, through their attitude, lift moral and bring an infectious “can do” attitude to the workshop. Often they will be a strong team player and have great time management. This drives the trade qualified staff further and harder to succeed also.
When talking with “made for trade” apprentices they often talk about how after gaining the qualifications they have long term goals way beyond the apprenticeship or traineeship. Heading towards an engineering qualification in their field, they know they have to do the hard yards first. This is ok to them, as I previous stated that they are in the industry of their choice and wouldn’t have it any other way.
In summary, “made for trade” apprentices or trainees are the type of person everyone wants in their business. Apprenticeships and traineeships are about combining work place learning and the theory component. They enjoy the apprenticeship, they enjoy the work, they enjoy the team work and have the satisfaction of looking back at what they started at the beginning of the week and having now completed it. A quote from a past apprentice in the fabrication trade, “I’m not a “made for trade” apprentice… this trade is made for me”.
NSW State Manager