Why become an apprentice?

You get real job experience in an industry you choose, you work towards nationally recognised qualifications and you get paid whilst you’re doing it.

  • Start your career with no student loan. Earn a wage from day one, and finish your apprenticeship without a massive loan hanging over your head!
  • Work that suits your lifestyle. Work outdoors instead of being stuck in the same office all day. As your career grows, you’ll have more freedom and flexibility in your schedule to fit in more time for the things that matter, such as family, hobbies, and interests.
  • A variety of experiences. No two days are the same! You’ll get the chance to work on a wide range of jobs throughout your career.

The structure of your apprenticeship

There are two main components to most of the training as an apprentice:

  • On-job learning: This is the practical learning side of your apprenticeship where you get assessed on the tasks you do at work. A supervisor will teach you how to do things and make sure you learn how to do them correctly. You submit assessment sheets and evidence (e.g. photos and drawing plans) that prove you can do these tasks and this will give you credits towards your qualification.
  • Off-job learning: This is the classroom learning side of your apprenticeship where you’ll learn all the important theory that goes behind the work you do. You’ll do your off job learning with a training provider. The training can be done a range of ways, such as night classes, distance learning, or block courses, depending on the provider you’re with.
Here are some key tips to think about as you look for an employer.
  • tick Have you got the basic skills covered?

    Like any job, there are some basic skills that are very handy to have before you start as a plumber. These include:

    • Having a manual drivers licence
    • Reading designs, plans, and instructions
    • Using hand tools
    • Soldering and welding skills

    Showing you already have these skills can make a good first impression on potential employers and help you get the job.

    But don’t worry if you haven’t mastered all of these yet – most employers will be happy to train you up on any gaps you have.

  • tick Writing a winning CV

    Your CV is probably the most important document in your search for an employer and a job. Make sure you write a CV that showcases your best skills and grabs the employer’s attention. Here are some tips for a winning CV:

    • Keep it short

    Try to stick to one page, up to a maximum of two.

    • Put the employer first

    Step into their shoes and think what does the perfect apprentice look like? How will they help my business? Make sure you match your CV’s content with the skills the employer is looking for – job ads will give you a big clue here.

    • Personalise it

    Don’t take the same CV to every employer. Take the time to tailor your CV to each different employer, reflecting the specific skills and attributes they’re looking for.

    • Triple-check it for errors!

    Even the smallest typo or grammar mistake can put off an employer. Read through your CV several times before printing it off, and have friends or family check it too.

  • tick Searching for employers

    Right, you’ve got your CV sorted – now it’s time to find an employer who will offer you a job.

    If you think about it, there are heaps of places you can look. Here are some suggestions:

    • Go on job websites such as Seek and TradeMe jobs
    • If you’re still at school, visit your careers advisor to see if they know of any openings
    • Use your network! Ask friends, family, community groups you’re part of, your sports club, and other connections. You might be able to find a tradie who is looking to take on an apprentice
    • Go the old-fashioned way and door-knock. Whip out the Yellow Pages, look for plumbing companies in your area, and go visit them – they’ll appreciate your proactive attitude

  • tick Meeting employers: Putting your best foot forward

    If an employer has said they’re interested in talking to you – well done! Now’s your real chance to impress.

    Remember that even the most casual, laid-back trades company is still a business. That means you have to act professional and make a strong first impression if you want the job.

    If you have limited experience talking to business owners and managers, here are some quick tips to impress them:

    • Show up on time

    If you’ve made an appointment to meet with a company, arrive a few minutes early, or at least on time.

    • Body language matters

    Employers don’t just listen to the words you say – they also look for “cues” in your body language. Sit and stand up straight and look confident. Make good eye contact when addressing them. Offer a firm handshake when you first meet them. The little things do count!

    • Dress for success

    We don’t expect you to rock up wearing a suit and tie, but you should still make an effort to look tidy. A smart shirt, pants, and pair of shoes with well-groomed hair is enough for employers to take you seriously.

    • Be polite and professional

    Remember, you could potentially be talking to someone who could be your boss for the next four years (or more). No matter what you talk about, stay polite and act professional at all times.