Choosing whether you want to start an apprenticeship or traineeship can take a while to decide. It shouldn’t but it does; it goes against what many of our teachers, parents, and peers have told us we “should” be doing, so naturally we’re gonna mull over it for a bit.

Between all the hate that tradies get, the ridiculous notion that apprenticeships are just for the ‘dumb kids’, and your parents constantly telling you that you need to go to uni, it can be hard to unlearn all these biases and make the commitment to something that might actually make more sense for you.

We’re here to help you with that decision. We want to cut through the noise, simplify the process, and answer all the questions going ‘round in your head.

What actually is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship or traineeship is an education pathway that combines formal education with paid, on-the-job training. Businesses take on apprentices and trainees and supervise their training as they take on real work learning under experienced staff. The formal education aspect consists of completing a vocational and education training (VET) qualification at a registered training organisation (RTO) such as TAFE.

Apprenticeships are generally for skilled trades such as carpentry, construction, and plumbing, while traineeships generally take less time to complete and are for vocational areas such youth work, office administration, IT, or accounting.

Click here to find out more about what apprenticeships are.

What will my friends and family think?

If you really want to give an apprenticeship a red hot go, then they should be happy for you. Unfortunately, we have heard from young people who have been made to feel bad about their choice to take on an apprenticeship and it’s not rare to hear tradies being made fun of in public or in the media. We disagree with this for a bunch of reasons.

You’ll actually be earning money while you learn and won’t be putting yourself tens of thousands of dollars in debt while you’re at it. It’s easier to find a job afterward too; 81.2% of apprentices and trainees are employed after their training, compared to 71.8% of university graduates that are in full-time employment within four months of graduating.

There’s also a level of satisfaction that’s hard to quantify when you’re pursuing a field that’s well suited to you. Not everyone thrives in a classroom environment, but that doesn’t mean you’re any less likely to succeed. Apprenticeships and traineeships are great because they let you build a solid career in an area you’re interested in without burning out at uni.

Click here to find out more about why you should do an apprenticeship.

How do I actually start one?

The process of starting an apprenticeship may seem pretty intimidating, but there’s actually a lot of resources out there that’ll help you along the way.  Your first step should be to jump over to Australian Apprenticeship Pathways, to get all the info you need about what kind of apprenticeships and traineeships are out there. You can also suss out what apprenticeships and traineeships are available on this site, plus tips on how to go about landing a job.

Next, you need to find an employer to take you on as an apprentice. We’ve got a whole page of information about how you can go about doing that right over here. Once you’ve done that, your employer will generally choose the RTO they want you to study at for the theoretical part of your qualification. And then voila! You’re well on your way to getting an apprenticeship under your belt.

Just remember, if you think you’re going to be happier in an apprenticeship or traineeship, then you have every reason to go for it – good luck.


This article was written in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Education and Training’s ‘real skills for real careers’ initiative to raise the profile of vocational education and training. If you’re keen to see what VET qualifications are on offer, jump over to the My Skills site here. 

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