Building a Future – Adult Australian Apprenticeships
While Mr O hasn’t started a formal apprenticeship yet, that is the plan. Currently he is on the typical trial period of employment. He leaves the house every day at the horrible (to me) hour of 6:15am; he actually likes starting early. I keep meaning to get up as he leaves and go for a walk or to the gym, but these darker mornings as we approach the colder months is making me snuggle under the doona instead.
Naturally, with an adult apprenticeship looming large in our lives, I was very interested to read about another adult who decided on a new career and has just completed a four-year carpentry apprenticeship. Mark is proof it can be done, so if any readers are thinking about it, our advice is go for it! Read Mark’s story to see how he managed!
After working in sales and account management for years, a stint helping out a mate as an unskilled labourer prompted him to reconsider his career path.
”I really enjoyed the hands-on labouring work but realised I couldn’t go on that way through my life unskilled,” he says.
Mark is 38 with two children to support. According to the article, adult Australian Apprentices are a growing demographic. There are several financial incentives offered to the employer and the employee, depending on circumstances through the Support for Adult Australian Apprenticeships scheme. Australia has a National Skills Needs List: a list of traditional trades identified as experiencing a national skills shortage. Trades on this list are eligible for incentives of various types. The Australian Apprenticeships website offers a wealth of information. Even so, an apprenticeship wage is not enough to support a family, so it is important Mr O completes this now while I am still working. Most young apprentices can not afford to leave home, let alone start a family – adult apprentices have to have other support, such as Mark had his savings and in our case I work.
Like Mark, but for entirely different reasons, Mr O also had no formal qualification. In his journey to establish a new career, he has watched fellow students drop out of the Certificate II course and has witnessed at least one apprentice drop his apprenticeship to earn more money now. There is no arguing apprentice wages are not the best in the world, but they are earning a wage while learning a trade. Employers usually pay all academic course costs and if they do not, the costs are tax-deductible. An apprenticeship is an investment in one’s future. The young man who dropped his apprenticeship for short-term financial gain will not be able to build a career, become a team leader or manager, or earn a skilled salary later on. He will be stuck as an unskilled labourer. The fact that adult apprenticeships are growing in number indicates more people are realising a qualification is necessary to build a secure future.
Yes, after so many years not earning anything for long periods, Mr O has been tempted at times to look at the short-term, but he is committed to building a career and he knows without a qualification that is not possible. Given I am working, we can afford to invest in the future of our family by ensuring Mr O gains a qualification. It is a lovely bonus that he loves working with plants, gardens and landscaping.
In Yoruba culture, there is a saying that “it is good to feed yourself from your own sweat”, meaning being able to provide for yourself and your family from hard work is very important. Since Mr O started work, he is very happy. No, he is not earning much, but he is learning and building a future. He has a career objective. He knows he is working for a great company.
I am not saying Mr O wasn’t happy before, but I knew that until he had a job and could “feel like a man again” he had some very down days. While studying, he was happy – he wasn’t earning money but he had a purpose. Sitting around the house is not something that sits well with Mr O at all.
He is right when he says no-one can really understand how good this feels for him unless they have been on his journey. I can see he is more settled within himself: he feels complete now. It is a wonderful thing. Both our stress levels have dropped dramatically, as now we can start getting rid of the debts incurred funding our battle. The interest bills will kill us if we don’t!
Life is good!