Apprenticeships on the rise as we navigate life with COVID

By Ron Maxwell - CEO 

Today's apprentices will play a big role in our future, from the construction workers that will rebuild our economy through infrastructure to the hospitality workers that will revitalise our tourism industry. That's why I was heartened to see the latest statistics from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER), which reported an incredible 114% rise in the number of new apprenticeship and traineeship commencements, year on year to June 2021.

VERTO's own data reflects the rise in apprenticeships, with a 95% increase in commencements year-on-year to December 2021.

It's been a healthy period for apprenticeships and traineeships across the board. In fact, as of December 2021, there were 220,000 Australians undertaking apprenticeships, the highest number on record since data collection began in 1963.

While these signs are all incredibly positive, we must find ways to maintain this momentum.

A strong pipeline, a strong future

In particular, we saw growth in Carpentry, Electrical, Business Admin and Early Childhood Education & Care, all industries that have a vital role to play. As we rebuild, it's our apprentices who will ensure a strong future for the Australian economy.

We are currently facing skills shortages in a wide variety of industries, from traditional trades to healthcare and hospitality. As our economy bounces back, it's essential to continue to grow these commencement numbers.

If we look at our trade industries alone, apprentices and trainees account for 12% of the current workforce, so they are critical to the future of these sectors. And remember, an apprentice who commences today won't be fully qualified until 2025 or 2026, so it's crucial to build a strong pipeline now.

Attracting more HSC graduates is key

It was also interesting to note the most common age to commence an apprenticeship in 2021 was 18. I'm hopeful this is a sign that more HSC Graduates are considering vocational education and training (VET) pathways. They are an excellent employment mechanism and a gateway to a fulfilling lifelong career.

I've talked before about how we can engage more HSC students in apprenticeships through career advice and even innovative programs, like NSW School Based Apprenticeships, and this has never been more important.

I'd love to see more school, career guidance programs, parents and students talking about apprenticeships as a suitable pathway. And there are numerous reasons why this is so, including diverse career opportunities, positive job outlooks, earning while you learn and even a higher starting salary than many university counterparts.

Encouraging more women into traditional trades

In the first half of 2021,18,460 women commenced apprenticeships or traineeships, a growth of 134% on the same time in 2020. And while this is excellent news, we still have some way to go when it comes to encouraging women into our traditional trade industries.

Women account for 47.4% of the Australian workforce, but just 3% of our trade industries.

Gone are the days when apprenticeships were 'jobs for the boys', but unfortunately, some of the stigma and misperceptions continue. VERTO champions women in traditional trades, and we've seen some great success stories in a range of industries, from painting and decorating and furniture-making to carpentry and electrical.

There is a great opportunity for more women to make their mark in trades, and I strongly encourage those who are interested to explore their career options. There are many organisations out there, such as Tradeswomen Australia, that are there to empower you, and VERTO can help you find the right opportunity to get started. 

The time is now

Whether you are an HSC student or recent graduate looking at your options or someone looking to transition careers, apprenticeships have so much to offer. So join this growing movement today and be part of Australia's future. To find out more and get started exploring opportunities, visit