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Everything you need to know about apprenticeships and traineeships


Wondering what’s involved in an apprenticeship or traineeship? Here’s the lowdown…

University is great for some, but apprenticeships and traineeships combine the best of both worlds.

You get to study at TAFE working towards a VET qualification certificate, and work on-the job, learning and earning a wage. In some cases, the government will even cover your training fees. Winning!

Plus, there are more than 500 occupations that offer apprenticeships and traineeships, and a huge number of them are in STEM fields.

Same, same but different

The main difference between an apprenticeship and a traineeship is the time they take to complete. A traineeship is usually one-to-two years and covers careers in business, retail and childcare. Apprenticeships take four years and you’ll be qualified for a trade like plumbing or electrical.

Paul Bennett, GM of MEGT Apprenticeship

Paul Bennett, General Manager of the apprenticeship program at MEGT (a not-for-profit employment organisation), says if you’re interested in an apprenticeship do your research.

“Talk to as many people as possible about what the job entails. The first few years involve very entry-level duties.”

Find your way

If committing to four years scares you, don’t stress. Pre-apprenticeships are short training courses that can give you an idea of what the job’s actually like and might give you a leg up in applying for an apprenticeship.

Still at school? Australian Schoolbased Apprenticeships let you start vocational training in the last few years of school, while also getting on-the-job experience.

Looking for an even bigger challenge? “Higher apprenticeships” allow you to complete a diploma or advanced diploma rather than a certificate-level course.

What is VET?

VET stands for Vocational Education and Training. Its aim is to partner with industries and the government to equip people with workplace skills and technical knowledge to help them start out in their dream career (or advance in it).

Why VET?

You get the skills quickly with hands-on experience and it’s a cost-effective way to nab
qualifications before heading into the workforce. According to, “Bachelor degrees can often cost over $30,000, while TAFE and VET courses are usually much cheaper.”

Where can I study VET?

TAFE and privately operated training providers or colleges.

This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Apprenticeships & Traineeships 2021 – the flip cover to Careers with STEM: Engineering 2021.


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