Apprentices and Trainees

Australian Apprenticeships (people who undertake this form of training are referred to as apprentices and trainees) offer opportunities to earn while you train and study. When you finish your apprenticeship, you will have a nationally recognised qualification as well as relevant work experience (which is increasingly valued by employers). Australian Apprenticeships provide the training pathway for many Technicians and Trades Worker occupations and many other non-trade occupations.

Australian School-based Apprenticeships provide the option of starting an apprenticeship while you are still at school, combining high school education with training. Around 18,800 students were undertaking an Australian School-based Apprenticeship in 2014.

Australian Apprenticeship enrolments have declined in recent years. Apprentices who complete their training continue to experience strong employment outcomes.

Apprentices and Trainees, enrolments by industry and gender, 2014 (‘000)

This bar chart shows enrolment of apprentices and trainees by industry and gender in 2014.  74,300 males and 2,500 females were enrolled in Construction.  35,900 males and 7,000 females were enrolled in Manufacturing.  14,700 males and 16,600 females were enrolled in Accommodation and Food Services.  19,900 males and 10,300 females were enrolled in Administrative and Support Services.  18,200 males and 11,200 females were enrolled in Other Services.  3,300 males and 23,200 females were enrolled in Health Care and Social Assistance.  12,000 males and 11,000 females were enrolled in Retail Trade.  12,000 males and 3,000 females were enrolled in Transport, Postal and Warehousing.  9,100 males and 2,800 females were enrolled in Public Administration and Safety.  8,200 males and 1,000 females were enrolled in Mining.  35,100 males and 17,400 females were enrolled in Other Industries.

Australian Apprenticeships are offered in every industry and are available to people of all ages and gender, but apprentices and trainees are predominantly young (with 60% aged 15 to 24 years) and the majority are male (70%). There are good opportunities for females to become apprentices or trainees and in some industries they make up the majority.

Industries with a high proportion of female apprentices include

  • Health Care and Social Assistance (88% of apprentices and trainees are female)
  • Financial and Insurance Services (65%)
  • Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services (57%).

Apprentices and Trainees, enrolments by age and gender, 2014 (‘000)

This column graph shows enrolments of apprentices and trainees by age and gender in 2014. There were 144,400 males and 56,000 females aged 15 to 24 years old.  There were 74,300 males and 33,300 females aged 25 to 44 years old. There were 23,800 males and 16,700 females aged 45 years and older.

The labour market for apprentices

The Department of Employment has undertaken research into the labour market for apprentices across five traditional trades groups. It shows that

  • there are opportunities for people seeking such employment but most applicants do not match employers’ expectations.

The most common reasons for employers suggesting that recruitment of apprentices was hard were

  • young people have no genuine interest or commitment to the trade
  • no real interest in being an apprentice
  • poor work ethic
  • poor attitude.

Qualities sought by employers

If you have passion and a genuine interest in the trade, an apprenticeship might be right for you. If you are seeking to become an apprentice, you need to be able to demonstrate the qualities and attributes employers seek (see chart), understand what being an apprentice entails and be committed to undertaking the full period of an apprenticeship.

Main qualities sought by employers

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.

Is there help?

There is some financial support available for apprentices and employers, including commencement and completion incentives, Trade Support Loans, Living Away from Home Allowance, Disabled Australian Apprentice Wage Support and Support for Australian Adult  Apprentices.

Other assistance and incentives may be available through Centrelink or your state or territory training authority.

If you are interested in becoming an apprentice, you can look at websites to further explore your chosen industry, talk to career advisers, the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network or Group Training Organisations.

Sources: NCVER, Apprentices and Trainees; Department Employment, Labour Market for Apprentices