The power of apprenticeships

11 January 2024

Trade apprenticeships still form one of the most powerful learning and development pathways available. 

I’m a good example.

I started my career as a vehicle body maker when I turned 15.

I didn’t know then that I would one day debate policy with prominent politicians, that I’d develop initiatives that positively affect all motorists, or that I would represent one of the country’s most important industries in Parliament House.

But I do, and what led me to this was an apprenticeship.

There are thousands of successful apprenticeship opportunities across Australia, provided through employers, that set people on great development pathways.

The automotive industry alone has an immediate need for 30,000 people to join the trade (not all of them apprenticeships, admittedly).

Apprenticeships still provide the best mix of on-the-job learning, underpinned by technical theory. 

Trade apprenticeships are about wide skill sets. They equip people for the complete job, from the beginning to the end, including problem solving along the way. 

These skills are adaptable and transferrable, which is desirable when people change careers so often.

I can provide many examples of senior managers, business owners and leaders whose careers flourished because of what they learnt as an apprentice.

Going the ‘trade route’ provides another enormous benefit.

Unlike university graduates who might enter the workforce in debt, an apprentice actually gets paid to learn skills that set them up for life.

That’s pretty hard to beat.   

Words: VACC CEO, Geoff Gwilym. As published in the Herald Sun 12 January 2024

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