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What are Higher Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships and traineeships can be done at many levels. Higher apprenticeships are typically done in the higher level VET qualifications.

Higher Apprenticeships provide a pathway into a career at higher Vocational Education and Training (VET) levels, combined with paid employment. They are like other apprenticeships and traineeships, where students train, study, and earn an income. Higher Apprentices need to have an approved Training Contract. 

A Higher Apprenticeship pathway enables individuals to undertake a recognised VET qualification at Diploma or Advanced Diploma level, while earning a wage and getting on-the-job experience. 

Higher Apprenticeships can allow for faster delivery of relevant, practical skills for industry. They enable learning to be contextualised and occur on the job, so that skill sets are tailored to meet the needs of industry. Higher Apprenticeships can be an important tool in reskilling people to adjust to disruptive industry changes. 

Who can do a higher apprenticeship?

Anyone who is eligible to do an Australian Apprenticeship can also do a higher apprenticeship. Employers may have their own specific eligibility criteria, such as having completed a relevant high school certificate. As higher apprenticeships are at a higher level, employers may have stricter eligibility criteria than for lower level apprenticeship qualifications.

Higher apprenticeships are becoming more popular for school graduates, with employers recruiting entry level staff then training them through a higher apprenticeship. This allows the employer to train their staff with skills to fit the organisation. 

Starting a higher apprenticeship after completing school allows the apprentice or trainee to develop industry-specific skills, gain a formal qualification that can be used as a pathway into university if the student desires, while earning a wage. 

Higher apprenticeships are also a popular method for people to upskill within their existing industry, particularly into supervisory or management roles. This may be with an existing employer who wishes to upskill their staff, or with a new employer looking to take on staff with experience and train them into a new role. 

How do I find a higher apprenticeship job?

Like any apprenticeship or traineeship, opportunities start with an employer deciding to use this way to employ their staff. Our How to Find an Apprenticeship page has information on some of the most common ways to find an employer who is willing to take you on. 

There are several different higher apprenticeship programs happening across Australia, and the employers participating in these will usually promote the programs on their website. Employers may only recruit once a year, so you should do some research to find employers who may be recruiting. Continue to check their websites and social media so you know when they have roles available. 

If you are looking to use a higher apprenticeship to upskill, you should talk with your current employer about opportunities internally and use your knowledge of the industry to find other potential employers. 

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Do employers take on higher apprentices?

Higher apprenticeships are less common than other levels of Australian Apprenticeships, making up about 4% of commencements in 2020. This has remained stable across several years. This indicates that employers are taking on higher apprentices, but that roles may be more difficult to find than in certificate-level apprenticeships and traineeships. 

The industries with the most commencements of higher apprentices are community services, business services, and public services. However, there were commencements in industries as diverse as child care; construction; plumbing and services; tourism, travel and hospitality; aviation; sustainability; and health. 

With Government support of higher apprenticeship programs, such as through the Australian Government's Apprenticeship Training - Alternative Delivery Pilotsand Skilling Australians Fund, higher apprenticeship programs may become more popular. 

Why employ a higher apprentice?

There are several reasons why employers should consider higher apprenticeships for their staff. For one, it is a great way of recruiting and training new staff into more complex roles that cannot be trained through certificate level apprenticeships or traineeships.  

Higher apprenticeships are also a good way of upskilling current or new staff who have a background in the industry but need to gain new skills to progress through their career. 

Benefits of using higher apprenticeships include: 

  • Training is directly aligned to industry needs 
  • Provision of a faster route to a productive and skilled worker 
  • Improved employee retention and staff loyalty  
  • Broadened range of potential qualifications and applicants 
  • Opportunity to develop a skilled workforce within your organisation.  

More information about how to employ an Australian Apprentice

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