Why Are There So Many Apprenticeships, Yet None Are Being Finished? Do You Think It’s Tough For Apprentices?

Why Are There So Many Apprenticeships, Yet None Are Being Finished? Do You Think It’s Tough For Apprentices?

We recently had a conversation with our TradieWives members about why it might be that there is such a shortage of people taking up a trade these days. We also discussed why apprenticeships are being started and not completed. With the announcement of the extension of the wage subsidy program,  we thought this may be an interesting topic. Here we some of the opinions that were shared in the Facebook group;


  • I have kids in this age group and also hire apprentices. I speak to many of them who didn’t realise how hard the physical labour would be and others who are completely lost about what they want to do with their life. I’m not sure if this comes from generations of changes in parenting, education and messaging to kids – weekends aren’t spent working in the garden and doing chores, kids told it’s ok not to know what you want until later in life.


  • TAFE introduced that apprentices must get 100% in every exam or test, if you don’t get that you get one re-sit and if you still don’t you have to redo the whole TAFE block again. I think this is unreasonable and unattainable for most also TAFE just isn’t great with anyone who is Neuro divergent. My son has an auditory processing disorder and anxiety and ADD and the support they offered was that the teacher could wear a microphone. We are just starting year 8 of his 4-year apprenticeship. It’s disgusting. With private tutoring he has one exam to sit and we will not have to deal with them ever again.


  • Pushing quotas for minority groups is an issue. People that don’t really want to do an apprenticeship or aren’t suited to one are being offered the roles, but then after a while they decide it’s not what they want to do after all. As a tradeswoman myself, I’m more than happy for minority groups to be encouraged to apply and broaden everyone’s imagination as to what jobs are available, but filling positions with people simply because they tick a box is not the answer.


  • There is the good old, employer and employee relationship. A lot of employers put apprentices on for the $$, to tick a box or to get other benefits (I’ve actually seen this happen a lot) and then let the apprentice go when they aren’t suitable anymore. Also apprentices getting jack of not being shown the actual job and just doing yard work or washing cars. It’s also the wages. Wages aren’t great for apprentices. We know a few apprentices who threw the towel in to go and just be a labourer. Their thought, do this for 4-5 years and get RPL no need to do the apprenticeship and get paid crap when they can get decent $$ until they eventually get signed off. There are lots of issues in the sector and minimal support to employers and apprentices as well.


  • There has been a real lack of funding in trades until last year but that work ethic has really disappeared it used to be very publicised. There was a lot of media, push and options for kids to get into apprenticeships and it happened way earlier then it does now so kids back then understood more of what’s involved. Now there’s the requirement of year 10 and you don’t even look at an apprenticeship til after that. I think this causes kids who are suited for apprenticeships (and not school) to become despondent and not driven. The lack of awareness doesn’t help either. I left school at 14 and I was very driven to prove myself. That’s not an option for kids today.


  • I believe a lot of it is generational! I am a young parent and both hubby and I did an apprenticeship- him a cabinet maker and me a chef – we both started on $4 an hour and had to get to TAFE ourselves 3 hours away for me and 5.5 for him. Biggest struggle of my life but a better person for it! Hubby bought a house at 19 as a 3rd year apprentice. Neither of our parents wiped our arses – it was fend for yourself! We did it for the qualification. We have instilled in our daughter that sometimes you need to take a pay cut and do the trade to be the better one at the end of the day – I see many kids just go argh stuff it not enough money I’ll go work at KFC and fry chips for double the price – ultimately that’s great too as at least they have a job but I think schools need to show the kids that short term pain is long term gain. A teacher at our local high school was caught telling the kids if you don’t go to University you’re shit, luckily my darling child got up and said actually my father did a trade and now runs a successful business he didn’t need Uni. It wasn’t that long ago we did our apprenticeships and having a 16 year old ourselves we can see that kids are different – they don’t have that inner drive, a lot don’t know what they want to do, and sometimes it’s about the pay – I know kids who prefer to sit on their butt and drive a tractor for $25 an hour instead of get a trade that they will enjoy because it’s all about the money.


  • There seems to be a lack of drive in the current generation and to be honest I think it has a lot to do with house prices. Your husband was able to buy a house as a 3rd year apprentice! These days it’s out of reach for any young person to be able to buy a property unless they have generational money. If buying a house is the Australian dream and most kids know they won’t be able to achieve it, probably ever, then there isn’t much to strive for. A lot of late 20 and 30 year olds are still living with parents because cost of living is too much to rent. They probably can’t see buying a house as an achievable goal because they don’t know anyone in their age group to have achieved it yet. I also think devices are a huge problem in the younger generations. To be honest I feel sorry for them. Also take out 2020/21 where not a lot of work was being done and people could get twice the apprentice wage sitting at home. Why would someone choose to work their butt off when they can get Covid money for nothing!


  • I hire lots of apprentices and used to own a training company that also trained apprentices. I think one of the issues is that we encourage kids to leave school at Year 12 now – which puts them on $15 an hour at 17 & 18 when they can go and work at Macca’s for double that. When they left school at Year 10, that sort of money is ok when you are 15 & 16. And so many schools tell kids that going to University is the best thing – even if they don’t know what they want to do at Uni. We have so many mature age guys come looking for an apprenticeship having completed a degree and then not wanting to do that job. The latest one was a Physio!!


  • We have put on 3 trainees, all of which specifically wanted to complete the course (cert 3 rural operations – basically ag infrastructure). None of them have finished. They’ve all resigned for different reasons, more money elsewhere, wanted a change etc. All were paid standard labourer wages not trainee wages and had many perks. Our work is hard work and a lot of travel but I think all in all the younger generation are a bit quicker to give up on something than push through the rough bits and get it done. We’re not even offering traineeships anymore because we think it looks really bad on us when no one finished.


  • I agree with so man comments here. Plus add on that there is a generation on kids who believe they should be CEO by 20 because social media told them they deserve it. I find at the moment the younger ones are harder working than the 20 year olds.


  • I bet the completion rates would be higher if more adult/mature apprentices were hired. Too many employers are looking for cheap labour.


  • The money is rubbish and the apprenticeship incentives to the apprentice have been reducing over the years and being transferred over to employers. My hubby has done two apprenticeships and the second (as a mature age) was very tough financially. If it wasn’t for me being in a good job with paid parental leave we wouldn’t have survived. When we worked at Woolies in high school there were so many people there who wanted to do apprenticeships but they stayed there instead. Moved up to management on $80k, no qualifications. Why would they take a pay cut for 4 years to then get the same money they’re on now? I mean, they’re still at Woolies but have progressed to higher management too. There’s an opportunity cost for everything.


  • Most companies looking for apprentices expect them to have license and car ready to go. This means they are 17 and 18 years old. My boy wants to get a trade and he would have started now but he has to wait another 6 months before he has a license. Not sure where we will pull a suitable work vehicle from either?


We thought this was such an important and interesting topic. We would love to hear your thoughts about this in the comments below if you’re willing to share them!


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