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Apprenticeships & Trades – a Good Way, and Maybe Best for Many

Posted by Gordon Doyle on November 27, 2017 at 2:19 PM

Smiling student standing in a woodwork class and holding a driller.jpegIn recent years, there has been an obsession on the part of many in schools, in government and in the media to push young people off to university. Doing this is self serving, rather than serving the interests of the many who would be better, and more happily placed doing other things.  More practical things.  Like an apprenticeship.

University? Or a trade?

The trend to push and to value the university option ahead of apprenticeships and trades careers is to be greatly lamented.  In circumstances where this occurs, many young people with interests, skills and a passion for something more “hands-on”, are often made to feel their choices are second best; that apprenticeships leading to careers in the trades are what you fall back on if you don’t get in to university. 

Emphatically, they are not second best!

Factors determining career choice

Arguably the most reliable predictor of a young person’s likelihood of success in their occupation of choice, is interest.  There are of course other measures one can use to help establish a match between people and the occupations to which they may be well suited.  These include personality, natural aptitudes, abilities, skills and career related values amongst other things, but interest is generally regarded as the most reliable predictor of success.

There is likely to be a combination of reasons why young people – or anyone for that matter - make the career decisions they do. I believe those making non-university choices are entitled to have their choices valued and respected equally with those who make other career decisions.

For this reason, I want to look at trades areas, and to identify some of those areas where skills shortages currently exist and where employment opportunities are great. I want to focus on some of the issues those choosing the apprenticeship and trades path might benefit from considering. I also want to look at what I feel are the safest and most reliable ways of attaining the best trades training.

Trades areas in skills shortage

There is a wide range of trade opportunities that can be accessed through an apprenticeship and a great many of these have now been designated by the Australian Government Department of Employment as areas of skills shortage. 

In New South Wales, state wide skills shortages exist for both males and females in a range of areas including automotive electricians, motor mechanics, diesel motor mechanics, structural steel and welding trades workers, panel beaters, bricklayers, carpenters and joiners, plumbers, cabinetmakers, electricians, chefs, child care workers and centre managers, hairdressers and enrolled nurses to name a few.  More information about trades in skills shortage can be found on the Department of Employment web site.  

Despite these shortages, there is often a misconception in the minds of some people including young people, that leaving school early – after completing Year 10, for example - automatically equals going into an apprenticeship.  It can be that simple, but more often it is not.

It’s all about being competitive

When it comes to apprenticeships, an applicant needs to be competitive alongside other applicants.  In the past, the idea of leaving school in Year 10 and getting an apprenticeship was not uncommon.  Today, while staying at school and completing Year 12 is more common, those additional two years of education, leaving school with a complete secondary education and the additional maturity this brings with it, help to make a young person more competitive in the apprenticeship employment market. 

I’m not suggesting this applies in all circumstances, but in general terms, I believe this is true.  It is also true that in many cases, an apprentice is more useful to an employer, and therefore more competitive, if they have a driver’s license.  A Year 12 leaver is more likely to have a driver’s license than a younger leaver.

There are other considerations too, but these will vary from industry to industry.

The best apprenticeships?  Try Group Training Australia

Long, and sometimes bitter experience has taught me that it is the member organisations of Group Training Australia that provide the best apprenticeships.  These include providers such as Master Builders Association Group Training, Master Plumbers Apprentices Ltd, Housing Industry Association Group Training, HTN (Hospitality Training Network), AGT (Automotive Group Training), TABMA, 1300 Apprentice etc. 

Details of these, and many, many others together with the range of apprenticeship areas they cover, can be easily identified by going to the website of Group Training Australia at www.grouptraining.com.au and clicking Find A Group Training Organisation

You could also click the links Find An Apprenticeship, and Pathways to Success.  In addition, there are a number of video clips with links from the home page that will help you understand how group training works and how to find an apprenticeship using group training.

I believe an apprenticeship undertaken through a member organisation of Group Training Australia provides the safest and most reliable way to a successful career in a trade or other skilled area.  For the reason that group trainers are both industry and government backed, they provide a number of important safeguards and guarantees that are often absent in the case of independently negotiated “apprenticeships”. 

Amongst these is the safeguard that the apprentice will receive regular monitoring, mentorship and comprehensive training in the full repertoire of skills required to qualify as a tradesperson, and the guarantee of continuity of the apprenticeship. 

I commend the apprenticeship option to those with trades and related interests, and Group Training Australia as the best way to acquire a safe and assured pathway to success.

Contact Gordon Doyle 
Careers Adviser 
for help with career and study planning:

Phone: 0412 540 154
Email: gd_careers@yahoo.com.au

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