Apprenticeships are a crucial part of the Australian job market, providing hands-on and classroom learning.
However, there's still some confusion about them. Many young Australians wonder about the real benefits of apprenticeships, including future skill value and potential earnings.
Are Apprenticeships Growing? Are They Important?
The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) reported that in 2022, Australia had 402,245 apprentices and trainees, a 14.0% rise from 2021. This shows that apprenticeships are on the rise and playing a big role in Australia's future.
The Australian Government is dedicated to building a skilled workforce. They've put $1.4 billion into the Trade Training Centres in Schools program. This helps students transition to further education or jobs and provides them with top-notch training facilities to prepare for today's job market.
You’ve Got to be Switched on to be a Tradie
Myth #1: Apprenticeships are for those who didn't do well in school
Many academic young people choose apprenticeships.
The belief that apprenticeships are for those who struggle academically is a misconception. This myth suggests that apprenticeships are a "last resort" for individuals who don’t make it into university.
For instance, Ashley Beeby got an ATAR of 95 but chose to become a mechanic - she could have become a lawyer but chose a different path that suited her interests and desires. Young people make decisions often driven by a genuine passion for a particular trade or the desire to work with their hands.
In reality, apprenticeships offer a unique and practical pathway. They are not merely an alternative to university or tertiary education but a route offering advantages like geographical freedom (tradies are needed anywhere there are houses and businesses). Plus, tradespeople have average earnings of $2,025 per week (compared to $1790 per week on average for all other Australian industries).
Apprenticeships cater to individuals who prefer a more hands-on approach to learning, allowing them to immerse themselves in real-world problem-solving situations.
You Can Travel, Become a Supervisor or be Your Own Boss
Myth #2: Apprenticeships offer limited career opportunities
Often misunderstood as dead-end jobs, apprenticeships open doors to diverse careers.
A recently qualified tradesperson who MIGAS employed in Brisbane, Ty, said, “I was asked to complete an overseas project for a new international terminal where I had to deliver a security system and a commercial PA system.”
This was just three or so months after graduating as a tradie.
This opportunity was a big confidence builder for him. Ty said, “The project manager for this job felt I could use existing skills and learn new skills on the fly.”
Apprenticeships equip individuals with foundational skills and hands-on experience across industries. They can be stepping stones to leadership, entrepreneurship, or international opportunities.
Australian Tradespeople Have a High Earning Potential
Myth #3: Apprenticeships are low paid and tradies don’t do much better
Tradespeople have average earnings of $2,025 per week (compared to $1790 per week on average for all other Australian industries). But even if you believe tradies are well paid, you may doubt that apprentices are well remunerated.
While it's true that starting wages for apprentices may be on the lower side, it's essential to view this in the context of long-term earning potential.
Apprenticeships are structured to allow for incremental wage increases as individuals progress in their training and acquire more skills. According to data from MIGAS payroll experts, apprentices typically start at a weekly wage of between $500 - $600, depending on their age and the type of trade they are pursuing. However, this wage grows over time. As apprentices advance in their training, their earnings also significantly go up. By their fourth year, most apprentices earn between $900 - $1000 weekly.
Consider the two paths: apprenticeship versus a university degree.
- Apprenticeship: With an apprenticeship, you’ll finish your qualification having earned between $151,411 to $201,261 (Fair Work Ombudsman Australia)
- University: In contrast, if you complete a university degree, you’ll graduate with a debt of $45,768, if not more (The University of Sydney)
So, while the earnings start relatively small, there is a huge earning potential over time, compounded by the fact that you earn as you learn.
When you factor in these benefits and the potential for wage increases, it becomes clear that while the initial wages might be modest, the long-term financial prospects are promising.
You Can be a Mature-Age Apprentice
Myth #4: Apprenticeships are only for school leavers
It’s attitude, not age, that defines a successful apprentice. Yet, one of the prevailing stereotypes about apprenticeships is that they are exclusively for the younger generation.
Most apprentices that MIGAS works with are 21 years and 28 years old. Even this is considered a “mature age” in the industry, based on pay scales.
Even so, you can take up a trade at any age. We recently hired a highly motivated 38-year-old apprentice in New South Wales who was prepared for a career change and was willing to invest the time to get his ticket.
Apprenticeships are open to anyone, regardless of age, eager to learn and advance.
94% of Trade Apprentices are Employed After Completing
Myth #5: Apprentices find it hard to get good jobs
There's a prevailing belief that a university degree is the golden ticket to secure employment. This perspective often overshadows the value and employability of trades.
Contrary to the myth, employability for trades and apprenticeships is incredibly high.
Data reveals that the employment outcomes for trade completers are high. A staggering 94% of individuals who completed their trade training were employed shortly after their training.
This high employability rate starkly contrasts the employment rate for university graduates. Research by Graduate Careers Australia indicates that only 69% of bachelor's degree graduates secure jobs after completing their studies.
This comparison is not to undermine the value of university education but to highlight that apprenticeships offer a reliable path to employment.
- Apprenticeships are not just for those who struggle academically
- Apprenticeships provide diverse career opportunities
- While apprentices may start with lower wages, they have long-term financial stability
- Apprenticeships are not age-restricted and are open to individuals of all ages
- Employability for apprentices is high, with a strong demand for trade professionals
If you're inspired to explore the world of apprenticeships further, the MIGAS jobs board is an excellent starting point.
Explore the opportunities, and remember that the right path for you may not be the most travelled path but the one that aligns best with your strengths and interests.