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Adult Apprenticeship Job Hunting

Information and tips for adults looking for an apprenticeship or traineeship.

Looking for an apprenticeship as an adult can sometimes be daunting, especially when people haven't been job hunters for a long time. Searching for Australian Apprenticeships is no different from looking for any job in that all rely on an employer deciding to recruit. 

There is no such thing as a separate type of adult apprenticeship - to find out more take a look at the What are Adult Apprenticeships? page.

Because adult apprenticeships and traineeships aren't a different category, the ways to find a position are similar for everyone. The processes in the Steps to an Australian Apprenticeship, and information in the How to Find an Apprenticeship? page are relevant for adults.

As an adult you may have a more developed network and contacts than school leavers. You should take advantage of these as a job hunter to research the industry and occupation you are targeting, and to find potential employers. You should also contact employers directly.

You will have transferrable skills from previous paid or unpaid roles that employers are looking for, such as time management and working well in teams. As an adult, you also have life experiences that can be valuable to employers. You should showcase your interest and determination to get into the industry, and demonstrate to the employer that you are dedicated to this career change.

Recommendations for adult job hunters:

  • Start your job hunting by looking at the large employers first. They may be less likely to be concerned about the difference in wages between an adult and younger apprentice or trainee
  • If you are looking on job sites and you find that a position does not specify that they are after 'adult apprentices' contact them anyway to ask whether they would consider the option. They may not know that they can hire adult apprentices
  • Focus some of your job hunting efforts on contacting employers directly (cold calling). By doing this, you potentially cut out a lot of applicant competition
  • When speaking with employers, you need to market yourself. You need to be able to convince them why they should hire you over a younger apprentice, or anyone else of course. Take a look at potential incentives that employers may get from taking you on as an adult to see if there are any direct financial benefits
  • Don't give up! Keep in mind that it can be a challenge to convince some employers to take on an adult apprentice but it is becoming a more popular option

How old is an adult apprentice?

The term 'adult apprenticeship' can sometimes be confusing as it can mean something different depending on the context in which it is used.

According to the Fairwork Ombudsman website, an adult apprentice is anyone over the age of 21. At this age, apprentices and trainees may be eligible to receive adult apprentice or trainee rates of pay set out in a relevant award.

Employers taking on an adult apprentice may be eligible to receive incentives if the age of the adult apprentice is 21 or over.

A 'mature aged' apprentice for incentive purposes is classified as anyone over 45 years of age who is employed as an apprentice or trainee. 

For further information about incentives, you should contact an Australian Apprenticeships Support Network provider.

Financial considerations for an apprentice

For apprentices and trainees a challenge can be coping on a training wage while reskilling and opening doors to longer term career options.  Even though an adult apprentice or trainee is paid higher than a junior apprentice, financial considerations are going to be an important factor in taking this direction, particularly people with responsibilities of family or a mortgage.  

People considering taking on an Adult Apprenticeship should obtain as much information as possible before making a decision, not only information about Australian Apprenticeships but perhaps also advice from financial experts.

The FairWork website has information and resources that can help you in your decision making.

Financial considerations for employers

Taking on an adult apprentice may mean paying a higher wage compared to taking on a junior, but you may also get a more productive apprentice. Considering the individual, their skills and attributes, and how this may benefit your organision is essential when recruiting. There are some potential incentives, and differences in wages and awards information for adults, so you should do some research into this.

The FairWork website has information and resources that can help you in your decision making.

Support for Adult Apprentices

The Support for Adult Australian Apprentices initiative provides financial support to an eligible employer of an adult Australian Apprentice through the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program.

Mature Aged Workers Incentives

Mature Aged Workers incentives may be provided to employers who employ a mature aged worker who is 45 years of age or older, disadvantaged, and in a Certificate II qualification level.  Contact your local Apprenticeship Network provider for more information and eligibility.

Restart Incentives

Restart is a financial incentive of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) to encourage businesses to hire and retain mature age employees who are 50 years of age and over.  Contact an employment services provider for more information.

Benefits of doing an adult apprenticeship

Starting an adult apprenticeship or traineeship is a great way to upskill in an industry that you have been working in, or to start down a new career path altogether. You may need to take a pay cut for a while but by doing an adult apprenticeship you will:

  • be supported to gain the skills and training needed in your new career
  • gain a nationally recognised qualification
  • move into a career which you have chosen because you want to do that work
  • there is a lot of financial support for you and your employer to make the move such as the Trade Support Loans for eligible apprentices to assist with everyday costs while they complete their apprenticeship.

Benefits of employing an adult apprentice

Employing an adult apprentice may cost a little more in wages but there are many benefits:

  • Gaining a worker with existing skills and experience who can add new ideas, abilities and a diversity of approach and thought to your team
  • Adding a team member with an already developed work ethic who is more reliable, who will take work more seriously, is committed to quality work, and can be counted on in a crisis
  • Several forms of financial assistance to compensate for any financial burden which are fully explained to you when you do the apprenticeship sign up through the Australian Apprenticeships Support Network provider
  • Gaining a committed worker as most adult apprentices have put a lot of thought in to which industry they want to train in, and are willing to make big sacrifices to get there. The probability of losing an apprentice due to a lack of interest is lower than for all apprenticeship types.

You should look at the benefits that individual applicants may bring to your organisation, including adult apprentices and trainees.

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