In the Australian workforce, mature-age apprenticeships are gaining significant traction.
Apprenticeships are no longer confined to the traditional demographic of young school leavers. Instead, it has expanded to include mid-career individuals seeking to gain new skills and find a more enjoyable career that suits them and their goals.
Mature-age apprentices often demonstrate high commitment and motivation due to having made a conscious decision to change careers. For many mature age apprentices the decision comes with the switching cost - choosing lower wages for 3-4 years so they can take on a new career path later in life.
According to a National Centre for Vocational Education Research study, mature-age apprentices tend to complete their apprenticeships faster than their younger counterparts. This statistic underscores the value that mature-age apprentices bring in terms of reliability and dedication to their chosen trade.
Furthermore, the Australian Government's Department of Jobs and Small Business has highlighted the economic benefits of mature-age employment, stating that "increasing the participation of mature-age people can lead to significant benefits for individuals, businesses and the economy".
Mature-age apprentices can contribute to addressing skills shortages and enhancing workforce diversity while promoting intergenerational knowledge transfer.
What is a Mature-Age Apprentice?
In the Australian vocational education and training system, an apprentice is an individual learning a skilled trade through a combination of on-the-job and classroom learning.
A mature-age apprentice is typically defined as one who commences training at 21 or older.
Mature-age apprenticeships span many industries, from traditional trades such as carpentry and plumbing to emerging fields like renewable energy technology.
Apprenticeships provide a structured pathway for individuals to gain a nationally recognised qualification while earning a wage, thus integrating learning and earning in a practical, real-world context.
Common Misconceptions about Mature-Age Apprentices
Myth: They are unemployable individuals
Despite the growing recognition of the value of mature-age apprenticeships, several things must be clarified. One common myth is that mature-age apprenticeships are only for those who are struggling to find employment, and thus are unreliable, unskilled and unfit for the job.
Working with MIGAS can ensure you find the right apprentice for the role. By focusing on attitude fit and personal aptitude, you can ensure you’re not ruling out perfectly capable men or women who have simply had a change of heart and now want to pursue a trade.
Myth: They are too expensive and thus not worthwhile
Another misconception is that mature-age apprentices are too costly for employers.
However, this overlooks the potential return on investment that mature-age apprentices can bring.
Their life experience often translates into strong problem-solving skills, reliability, and high commitment to their work.
Furthermore, various government incentives are available to support employers in hiring mature-age apprentices, offsetting the initial costs.
A study by the Brotherhood of St Laurence found that 87% of employers reported that the benefits of hiring mature-age workers outweighed the costs.
This statistic reinforces the value that mature-age apprentices can bring to a business, challenging the misconception that they are a less viable option than their younger counterparts.
Myth: It’ll be uncomfortable to supervise an apprentice who’s older than me
Unlike younger apprentices, mature apprentices often clearly understand workplace expectations and responsibilities and have more developed emotional intelligence and social awareness.
They are likely to have developed strong communication and interpersonal skills through their previous work and life experiences.
This can result in a smoother integration into the workplace and a more productive working relationship with colleagues and clients.
While mature-age apprentices are not right for every worksite or workshop, more often than not, it’s a mental bias that can stand in the way of companies taking a chance on an older apprentice.
If trade businesses can overcome this, and be more open-minded about the potential benefits of a mature-age apprentice, they can find themselves a reliable, affordable (considering their age and stage of life) and loyal employee.
We encourage all trade businesses to consider the untapped potential of mature-age apprentices.
If you need help to find your next hire, let MIGAS help. Contact us to discuss your apprentice needs.