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Non-uni pathways into engineering


Want to be an engineer? The courses to get there are in demand. Big time.

Below, we unpack the non-uni pathways to a career in engineering.

Engineering is a part of nearly every industry, so it makes sense a majority of STEM-related VET courses – we’re talking the second biggest intake across Australia – are in engineering, too. Over 18,000 apprentices in Australia work in metal and engineering, but some of their specialties might surprise you.

Working with metal and machinery is part of many engineering apprenticeships. Fabrication trade apprenticeships are all about welding and machining metal. If assembling, manufacturing, testing and maintaining machines is more your thing, a mechanical trade
apprenticeship could be for you.

Electrical tradespeople also start out as apprentices. You could install the wiring in buildings, work with electrical infrastructure underground or overhead, or repair electronic devices like TVs, computers and appliances. Lift mechanics also learn their trade via
the Certificate III in Electrotechnology.

What is engineering? It’s probably not what you think! Everything you need to know about the ‘E’ in STEM is right over here.

Where can it take me?

If you’re into cars, you can become a motor vehicle mechanic, but you can go even bigger. What about planes, boats and ships or even submarines? All of the major airlines in Australia offer apprenticeship pathways to becoming aircraft maintenance engineers and submarine company ASC hires electrical, mechanical and fabrication apprentices at mid-year.

Locksmithing, jewellery manufacturing, watchmaking and repair and refrigeration and air conditioning are all traditional apprenticeship pathways within engineering, too.

New trades are also emerging, such as the digital engineering apprenticeships which took off in South Australia this year. Participants in these higher apprenticeships learn about Industry 4.0 skills like automation and robotics, and big data while studying towards a Diploma of Applied Technologies and working with engineers in industry.

Future focus

Christina Webb, Digital Engineering Apprentice

Christina Webb had one apprenticeship under her belt before embarking on a digital engineering apprenticeship with SAGE Automation, because she wanted to learn more about automation processes.

“Engineering and technology are going to play a huge role in the future workforce,” she says. Now, Christina is learning how to create electrical schematics using computer-aided design programs. She was also involved with a project installing sensors in parks and public spaces in Adelaide to monitor water efficiency.

“It’s been great to be actively involved in real-world engineering projects,” she says. “I’ve already learned so much.”

Christina’s study and career pathway

  • Electrical Apprentice, Alsanto Constructions
  • Electrical Apprentice, BHP
  • Electrician, BHP
  • Digital Engineering Apprentice, SAGE Automation

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


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