The Rise of Apprenticeships
According to the data from the Ministry of Education, the number of apprentices under the age of 18 increased from 460 in August 2019 to 810 during the same period in 2020. Data from the Tertiary Education Commission corroborates this, as it shows a 17.6 per cent increase in enrolments in tertiary and vocational study. From 45,155 in 2019, the enrollees ballooned to 57,035 in 2020.
In addition, there are also more students who are leaving early rather than finish their schooling. The reason? To enter apprenticeships for traditional trades, hopefully, to become builders, electricians, plumbers, and other kinds of tradespersons in the future.
What is an apprenticeship?
In New Zealand, the best way to enter the skilled trades is by getting an apprenticeship. It helps train people to do a specific job, including all the skills and relevant technologies involved with each trade. More than skills and technical training, apprenticeships also help with the familiarisation of customs and practices of the trade for a more holistic understanding of one’s future career.
For those wondering how apprenticeship and traineeship differ, apprenticeships are trade-specific and traineeships are broader in scope. This means that what you learn in the former helps you become a specialist in a trade. Meanwhile, what you learn in the latter can be usually applied to any career (usually in the services category).
Apprenticeships also usually last longer, about three to four years, compared to traineeships that last about one to two years. In fact, you’ll find some training courses in which you can already get certified after two days of learning sessions.
What are some of the advantages of doing an apprenticeship?
As of this writing, it’s expected that the skills shortage will continue in the next few years. This simply means that there will be a consistently high demand for highly skilled tradespeople. Thus, those who undergo apprenticeships today are likely to have stable jobs in the future. They can even command higher rates depending on their level of skill.
Aside from these, here are a few more compelling benefits of apprenticeship:
Gaining Experience and Skills Before You Actually Work
While possessing academic qualifications is certainly an advantage, they are not all you need in a trades career. The industry is a highly hands-on one, not purely theoretical. It requires real-life experience and intensive training for a person to actually be good.
With an apprenticeship, you’ll gain experience for the job you want even before you actually work. It serves to boost your CV, highlighting the technical skills you already have that your competitors—who did not take an apprenticeship—will not have.
An apprenticeship in your CV also signals to your potential employers that you’re committed to delivering the best job each and every time. It also highlights qualities such as initiative and diligence.
Gaining a Level 4 New Zealand Certificate
After completing your apprenticeship, you’ll also receive a Level 4 New Zealand Certificate, as prescribed by the New Zealand Qualification Framework or NZQF. This gives you more leverage when trying to negotiate a higher salary.
A Level 4 Certificate means you have both operational and theoretical knowledge about a specific field of work or study. Having this certificate indicates that you know which skills to apply in order to solve problems and that you can apply or conduct different processes as demanded by the field of work or study.
In addition, a Level 4 Certificate means that you’re able to self-manage your own learning and performance. It also shows that you can handle or manage a number of people.
Earning While You Learn
When you’re an apprentice, you have the opportunity to earn at least the training minimum wage. In fact, some employers are more than willing to pay more as your skill improves.
Do note that some traineeships are also paid. However, many of them are more like allowances instead of equal to or more than the minimum wage.
Establishing Your Career Early
Apprenticeships don’t only help you develop the necessary skills for a career in the trades. They also help you establish your path early on. As you gain some first-hand experience and prove your mettle, you’ll also make a name for yourself. Essentially, this is you getting a headstart on your career.
The years of your apprenticeship also gives you the opportunity to network. This is a valuable aspect of being a tradesperson, which can take years to develop. With an apprenticeship, you can immediately get started on this element of your career.
Improving Your Confidence
As mentioned, the trades is a hands-on industry. You need a lot of practical skills to make it big, but you also need a lot of confidence. After all, your skills won’t matter if you don’t have the conviction to use them and know the situations where they’re most applicable.
An apprenticeship can contribute to this aspect, especially since you’ll have had three to four years to build on your skillset. During this period, you’ll also have likely encountered various real-life circumstances that can serve to hone both your skills and your confidence.
If you haven’t considered an apprenticeship yet or are perhaps looking for a career change, this might be the perfect opportunity. The trend is clearly pointing towards tradesmanship and it will serve you well to undergo an apprenticeship as early as possible.