How to find an apprenticeship

How to find an apprenticeship

Have you decided to kick-start a hands-on career by earning while you learn? Here’s our expert guide to finding - and securing - an apprenticeship.

16/09/2021
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An apprenticeship is a great way to combine learning and working, allowing you to start earning money as you gain valuable skills.

Apprentices are employed in more than 500 careers and jobs, learning both on the job and at trade school, and finishing with a qualification that’s recognised around Australia.

Anyone of working age can complete an apprenticeship, and it can be full-time, part-time or school based.

Here’s how to find, and secure, an apprenticeship:

Step 1: Pick a trade     

It might sound obvious but an important first step is to decide which trade you want to work in.

Chisholm Apprenticeship Support team leader Jarrod Flanigan says some people have an innate passion for a particular trade – they might have always loved tinkering with cars or woodwork for example. Others may be inspired by a family member or friend who is successful in a trade.

Work experience while you’re at school or VCAL studies can help you to “try before you buy” so you can be confident the trade you’re interested in is right for you.

You could also have a look at job listings in your local area to see which trades are in demand and more likely to have jobs available in future.

If you’re having a hard time deciding, or if you do find yourself in a course or job you don’t enjoy, don’t panic as you don’t have to stay in a career you dislike.

Step 2: Consider a pre-apprenticeship

Pre-apprenticeships are courses, usually Certificate II level, which get you started with some basic skills you’ll need in your chosen trade.

Not only can this help you determine if you’ve chosen the right trade , Jarrod says it can also put you ahead of the competition when it comes to applying for apprenticeships. “You learn some practical skills and some employers advertise a preference for applicants who have completed a pre-apprenticeship,” he says. “It also gives you confidence.”

Step 3: Get your resume ready

You’ll need to apply for an apprenticeship in the same way you would apply for any job. So, before you start looking, or even putting the feelers out, it’s worth having your resume ready to go. That way if anyone asks you for it, you’ll be able to provide it quickly.

If it’s your first resume, this might seem like a daunting task, but these five simple steps to write your first resume will get you started.

Step 4: Look for advertised apprenticeships

Jarrod says there are a variety of ways in which employers advertise apprenticeship roles.

Some use job listing websites like Seek, while others use local recruitment agencies or industry groups like the Housing Industry Association. There are also Group Training Organisations, which hire apprentices and place them with host businesses. “I’ve even had some who found theirs on social media sites and Gumtree,” Jarrod says.

If you need help, the Chisholm Skills and Jobs Centre has job listings and workshops to assist with job search skills, resume building and other job readiness skills.

Step 5: Use your contacts and networks

Not all apprenticeships are advertised, so you may need to ask around and put yourself out there to find one.

Jarrod recommends starting by asking your contacts if they know anyone who needs an apprentice. “Utilise your network whether it’s your sports club, family, school, church group or any of the above,” Jarrod says.

Step 6: Put yourself out there

You might be wondering if it’s worth visiting businesses you are interested in and dropping off your resume. The answer is yes.

It can be nerve-racking to approach employers but Jarrod says you don’t have anything to lose by asking and many employers will appreciate that you’ve used your initiative.

If you are going to visit employers, you need to keep this advice from Jarrod in mind: “The first thing is to dress nicely,” he says. “I always suggest dressing like you’re going to a private golf course wearing chinos and a polo shirt.”

When you arrive, Jarrod says not to walk into reception and ask to speak to the boss. “You never know, you might be speaking to the boss,” he says. “Ask, ‘Who can I speak to in regards to apprenticeships’? The worst case scenario is whoever you speak to says ‘No, we’re not looking’. In that case don’t be afraid to ask if you can leave your resume and stay in touch.”

You can also consider approaching potential employers on a building site. “Have clean pants and boots with you so if they ask when you can start, you can say ‘Now’!”

Jarrod says in the trades “everyone knows everyone” so if the tradie you ask isn’t looking for an apprentice, he suggests to always ask if they know someone who is.

Step 7: Succeed at the job interview

If you’ve made it to interview stage – give yourself a pat on the back.

Now it’s time to start preparing. Firstly, make sure you have neat clothes ready. If you’re not sure what to wear, have a look at these tips on how to dress for job interview success. You’ll also need to make sure you’re well groomed.

Jarrod says it’s also a good idea to think about some questions to ask the employer. “Keep in mind, you need to decide if the workplace is right for you. Have a look around and make sure it’s a safe workplace which is run professionally.”

If you don’t succeed at interview, don’t let it get you down. Remember, each interview you attend is giving you experience and confidence for the next.

Step 8: Getting started

Congratulations on securing an apprenticeship.

Along with your employer, you’ll now need to sign a contract with the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN).

You’ll also need to enrol with a Registered Training Provider (RTO), such as a TAFE like Chisholm, to complete your training.

For information for apprenticeships for employers and apprentices, contact the Chisholm Apprenticeship Hub on 1300 775 265 or email apphub@chisholm.edu.au.