National Apprenticeship Week 2024

Apprenticeship Field Manager at Careers Expo

The importance of apprenticeships for the Australian workforce

The theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2024 is ‘It’s all in your hands’ and The Apprenticeship Community Field Officer Manager Rocco Vallelonga shares his insights on the importance of Apprenticeships and the true value of getting hands on to build a career in trades.

What’s an apprenticeship placement success story that speaks to the positive impact of apprenticeships for Australian businesses?

One that really stands out is RCR Bunbury who put an apprenticeship program in place. They took on 28 apprentices just last year, an increase from 14 in the year before that. The program’s been instrumental in addressing the skills shortages they were facing and the fact that they’d struggled to find tradesmen.

How do you think apprenticeships are contributing to a more skilled and adaptable workforce compared with traditional education?

When you’re hands on you’re not just learning about the theory of production deadlines, meeting deadlines, and working in a team, you’re experiencing them. You can fairly easily learn how to construct something but when it comes to dealing with people and leading a team apprenticeships offer the opportunity to learn by example and through seeing how other people do it.

I think these skills put you head and shoulders above your potential competition in the workplace, you just can’t beat real world experience.

What role do you think employers play in the success of an apprenticeship?

Huge. And employers may not even realise the impact they have when they take on an apprentice. It’s not just in their work life either, because ultimately an employer teaches an apprentice how to support themselves now and into the future.

Using my own experience as an example, I remember my parents always telling me to save money but I didn’t really listen until my first boss approached me about it, talking through how to save, why it was important, and how it would help me later on down the track.

It’s like that saying ‘give someone a fish and feed them for a day or teach them how to fish and they’ll feed themselves for a lifetime’.

What advice would you give to someone who’s hesitant to become an apprentice because of the pressures or misperceptions of people around them?

Make sure you’re choosing what you genuinely want to do. Not everybody wants to sit behind a desk, some people just want to work with their hands. We always see talent as something that you know, or a skill like running or being sporty, or athletic, or a good actor – but if you’re, if you’re really good at something whether it’s baking, cooking, or building things, then that’s what you should be doing.

That’s your gift and you should be chasing what you want to do and putting the time and effort into honing your craft.

How can an apprentice make the most out of their apprenticeship?

Be curious, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Jump out of your comfort zone and try that new task, because apprentices who do this usually get the most out of the experience. Even just doing that little bit of learning outside of your work, for example spending time on your own car if you’re training to be a mechanic, or cooking any chance you get if you’re training to be a chef.

In my experience the apprentices who are willing to do that little bit extra go further.

How can an apprentice transition from an apprenticeship to a long-term successful career?

Always be respectful in the workplace, focus, study, have the best work ethic on the team (which translates to a good reputation), and put time and effort into your trade.

Learning never stops so it’s a mixture of your skill, the way you treat others, and your integrity – if you say you’re going to do something, do it.

How important is mentorship for an apprentice?

It’s hugely important. Just that conversation from someone who’s been there, done that and come out the other end on the better side. Often we just need that other perspective and someone experienced to keep us on track.

We offer mentoring at The Apprenticeship Community and it’s worth its weight in gold. The apprentices who take it up always have greater success, for example one apprentice recently had an unusually complex journey with changes to his training packs and to his employer but he was ultimately successful and I’m positive that if it wasn’t for wasn’t for his mentor he would have come through that in the same way.

Are there any government or industry initiatives and incentives that help support apprentices?

There are several support initiatives to help apprentices complete their training and offset the cost of living.

Australian Apprenticeship Support Loans of up to $24,492 allow apprentices pay back 80% on completion of an Australian Apprenticeship in a qualification listed on the Australian Apprenticeship Priority List, once they’re earning an income above the minimum repayment threshold.

The Australian Apprenticeship Priority List is used by the Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System (AAIS), to provide additional financial support to apprentices, trainees and their employers in order to boost apprentice numbers and support completions in priority occupations.

Apprentices and trainees studying for these trades can receive $5,000 from the government in installments of $1,250 at six, twelve, eighteen and twenty four months.

There are also incentives for apprentices in the new energy sector.

Apprentices who train in an eligible occupation on the Australian Apprenticeships Priority List and undertake work in the clean energy sector during this training may be eligible for the New Energy Apprentice Support Payment worth up to $10,000 over the course of an apprenticeship.

What advice do you have for someone who’s currently considering an apprenticeship?

Get in touch and ask us anything, there are literally hundreds of apprenticeships and traineeships to choose from.

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