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Complete guide to mature-age apprenticeships

Apprenticeships and traineeships are a great way to get the skills and experience you need to kick start an exciting career in a new industry. And the good news is, it's never too late to get started.

What is a mature-age apprenticeship?

A mature-age apprentice or trainee is anyone who starts their training after the age of 21. Other than that, they're generally the same as any other apprenticeship or traineeship, combining working for an employer with TAFE training and allowing you to earn while you learn. While many people associate apprenticeships with trades, with there are a range of other career options you can open up through an apprenticeship or traineeship such as hairdressing, cookery, business, IT and child care just to name a few.

Are mature-age apprenticeships worth it?

Committing one to four years to an apprenticeship or traineeship can seem daunting, but there are plenty of benefits that completing these qualifications can unlock. For example, many careers typically offered via apprenticeships and traineeships are currently experiencing a critical skills shortage, ensuring graduates will enjoy strong job opportunities and high earning potential. Many careers such as trades can also offer high degrees of flexibility, including the ability to start your own business, as well as the option to work in either metro or regional areas. Finally, as a mature-age apprentice or trainee, you'll have strong drive and be clear on your career goals which can see you accelerate quickly in the industry.

Can an apprenticeship help me change careers?

Whether you're after a career change or want to get back into the workforce after a break, an apprenticeship or traineeship is a great option for a few reasons.

Firstly, you don't need to have finished Year 12, or have any previous experience in the industry to become an apprentice. Secondly, because you're working while you complete your training, an apprenticeship is a great way to help you make contacts in a new industry. Plus, apprenticeships and traineeships have great job outcomes as in many cases, you can continue working with your current employer once you complete your training. Alternatively you can choose to take on a new role elsewhere or even start your own business with your industry-recognised qualification under your belt.

What if I already have experience in the industry?

Sometimes you can find yourself working in an industry where you have plenty of skills and experience but no formal qualifications. At some point, this can limit your career progression and earning potential. A mature-age apprenticeship is a great way to to upskill and get formal recognition of your existing skills. In many cases, you'll be able to shave time off your training through recognition of prior learning (RPL). Formalising your skills in this way can help you open up further job opportunities and progress your career.

What do mature-age apprentices get paid?

If you already have an established career, an apprentice or trainee wage will likely be less than what you're currently earning. However keep in mind that unlike other forms of full-time study, you'll actually get paid while you complete your apprenticeship and will have minimal out-of-pocket expenses. Qualified tradespeople have a high earning potential, so an apprenticeship might be a case of weighing up short-term pain for long-term gain.

Pay rates for mature-age apprentices can vary depending on your industry but can be negotiated with your employer depending on your level of experience and previous training in the industry. In fact due to the current skills shortage, some employers are reported to be paying above the award rate to attract mature-age apprentices. As a mature-age apprentice you’ll also get a higher award wage than traditional apprentices as well as enjoying yearly pay rises as your skills progress. 

Will employers hire a mature-age apprentice?

While a common misconception is that all apprentices come straight out of school, these days mature-age apprentices and trainees are more common than you might think. Mature workers are also often more favoured by employers as they generally have more life experience, better communication skills, and are more reliable and committed than younger apprentices. As a mature-age apprentice you'll likely be seen as an experienced and valued employee who's trusted with tasks and responsibilities a younger worker wouldn't normally be given.

How do I become a mature-age apprentice?

If you want to start an apprenticeship or traineeship, the first step is to find an employer who will take you on. You can find these opportunities through regular online and print job listings. You can also register your interest in TAFE Queensland's Find an Employer service which can match you with an employer who's looking to take on an apprentice or trainee in your industry.

Once you've found an employer, the next step is to complete a training contract that sets out the agreement between you and your employer to work and train together. Make sure you select TAFE Queensland as your Supervising Registered Training Organisation (SRTO) to ensure you complete your qualification through the state's largest and most experienced training provider.