The Apprentice… You’re hired!

As a careers advisor in a high school, I am privileged to have conversations with students about their future goals and aspirations.  What became clear to me is that many students are still unfamiliar with trades and the concept of an apprenticeship.

According to Fiona Kingsford, CEO of industry training organisation Competenz, whilst around 60,000 teenagers leave school each year, just four percent of them go straight into trades training.  This figure is all the more alarming, when key industries are citing a lack of trained people to carry out this work.

Students can easily cite the main trade pathways of builder, carpenter, plumber and electrician, but the list fizzles after that.  There are lots of opportunities to better connect students to these other pathways with Gateway and Star programmes, work experience, job-shadowing, guest speakers, competitions and school projects helping to bridge this gap.

I attended the Unitec Open Day on Saturday and took a took a tour of their impressive Mataaho building, New Zealand’s largest open plan trades training facility.  I am not a practical hands-on person at all (hence why I talk and write for a living!) but I marvelled at all the different equipment and tools in this gargantuan space.  It made me appreciate how vast, interesting and dynamic a trade career can be.

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As a careers professional, I understand the importance of readily sharing information to help students make aware and to help them make sense of these options.  One website I strongly recommend is the Got a Trade! website which wonderfully showcases the vast array of trade pathways.  The website is a collaborative initiative involving the main industry training organisations (ITOs) in New Zealand, so the information is comprehensive and relevant.

In addition to featuring information and videos on specific trades, it also features the ‘Get a Trade’ tool to help people reflect on their interests and skills and how this relates to a certain trade.

For the recent Got a Trade! week, a recent video by The Hype Men (featuring Neil Finn’s son Elroy) featured band members contorting themselves to fit through nine different walls, each representing different trades and services.  Every wall was constructed with the help of apprentices and trainees.  Check it out!

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