When it comes to discussing an apprenticeship we all immediately imagine a sixteen year old, fresh faced kid taking their first strides in the world of employment. However more and more of us are looking to get our start in a trade much later in life. The mature age or adult apprentice offers a lot of advantages that many employers would find appealing.
Generally adults seeking an apprenticeship have a CV that demonstrates a depth of experience in the workplace, whether they are 25 or 45. Having been exposed to the working environment already they have a greater understanding of workplace expectations and a stronger work ethic. Accustomed to the hours they often prove more dedicated and will hit the ground running.
It is the traits and both the working and life experiences of a mature apprentice that make them asset to a business. Usually they require less supervision and management and are faster and easy to train. They too are often more immediately productive providing their employer with a return on their investment much sooner. So why do we not see more mature age apprentices? For many of us seeking a career change into a trade that typically draws its talent from young apprentices, we are simply unaware of the apprenticeship opportunities for someone who has long left their teenage years behind them. Perhaps our advertising of apprenticeships needs to take into account that people of all ages want to learn and develop their skills and career prospects.
There is a high level of interest for mature age apprentices from Australian employers, yet adult applicants have been below demand. If we were more aware of the possibility of taking on an apprenticeship later in life, would we seek out a career change to follow our true passion? I believe that many of us would choose to fulfil our career goals. We would make the necessary sacrifices. We would absorb a decrease in our wage, despite family and/or financial commitments, and we would prove attentive, reliable and driven to our employers.
Let’s talk about the money factor. We are all too aware that an apprenticeship doesn’t pay well, certainly not in the first year! But for an adult apprentice the glass is half full…short term pain for long term gain. It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are government incentives for both employers and apprentices for every year of the apprenticeship. The Australian Apprenticeships website provides a wealth of information for both parties to take into account when making the decision to go down this path; http://www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au/.
More than accepting a wage decrease, one may also have to swallow their pride in terms of management. An adult apprentice could very likely be taking their directives from someone much younger. Taking on menial tasks that one considered beneath them in their previous position of employment may now be a fundamental responsibility of their job description. Yet given the motivations for undertaking the apprenticeship, this shouldn’t represent too much of an issue.
Taking on an apprenticeship later in life is a commitment that one must consider thoroughly. It should not be taken up on a whim after a bad day at the office. It will generally require one to disadvantage themselves, and perhaps their family, for a period of time. However with long term financial security and personal satisfaction to be gained, the decision to tough it out will be well worth the effort, as it will to any employer willing to give an adult with ambition a go.