Why a trades qualification is a great career option

As we move into a skills-led economic recovery, Australia is waking up to what those of us who work in the vocational education and training (VET) sector already know – a trades qualification is a great first choice career option.

Earlier this month carpentry apprentice Sophie Russell was named Apprentice of the Year at the Tasmanian Training Awards. The awards celebrate the best and brightest in vocational education and training across the State.

Sophie knew from childhood that she loved building things, and an apprenticeship gave her the pathway to turn her passion into a career. She’s now fully qualified and continues to be employed by VEC Civil Engineering who first put her on as an apprentice. Sophie is now supporting and mentoring aspiring carpenters, guiding them through the challenges of studying and giving them tips on achieving work/life balance. She’ll go on to represent Tasmania in the Apprentice of the Year category at the Australian Training Awards in November.

Sophie’s is not the only success story. Another is Ben James who recently represented Tasmania in carpentry at the WorldSkills National Championships in Perth, WA along with seven other TasTAFE-trained apprentices and former apprentices. Like Sophie, Ben knew from an early age that he wanted to be a carpenter. He started making projects with wood as a child, excelled at woodwork in college where he also did a work placement with Mak Builders in Hobart. He’s now employed by the company.

At the age of just 24, Ben has already completed an apprenticeship, including gaining a Certificate III in Carpentry through TasTAFE, and is fully qualified with a supportive employer. He has been earning while learning, has had the opportunity to test his skills on the national stage, and has even built his own house.

Thanks to a trade qualification through TasTAFE, young people like Sophie and Ben are working in their dream jobs and being exposed to plenty of other opportunities along the way.

They are just two of the close to 6000 apprentices we’re training at TasTAFE each year, over 1000 of them in building and construction, including allied trades.

Our construction apprentices are learning on the job in their workplaces as well as at TasTAFE where they are being trained by teachers who have backgrounds in the same industries the apprentices are working in.

Our vocational training supports what they are learning on-site and also gives them the opportunity to learn parts of their trade they may otherwise not get to experience in their workplace.

At TasTAFE we offer a wide range of certificate courses, skill sets, licencing, and pre-employment and apprenticeship training in areas including bricklaying, carpentry and joinery, concreting, painting and decorating, glass and glazing, tiling, wall and ceiling lining, civil construction, and resources and infrastructure.

The diversity of our training spans a Certificate II, which provides foundation skills for people looking to gain an apprenticeship, through to Certificate III apprenticeship qualifications and beyond to areas like a Diploma of Building Design.

As well as providing technical skills to get a job, vocational training in trades equips people with the ‘enterprise” skills all employers are looking for. They’re learning skills like communication, teamwork and of course anyone who has seen a tradie in action knows they are excellent problem-solvers!

Trades apprentices complete their qualification with years of training and work experience under their toolbelts. They already know what it’s like to work with others as part of a team, deal with customers or clients, meet deadlines and deliver a high-quality product. These are all skills you learn in a hands-on, vocational qualification.

Many of our apprentices go on to work for some of Tasmania’s leading construction companies in supervisory roles or start their own business and employ the next generation of apprentices.

There’s no doubt that a trades qualification is an exciting and rewarding career option and it’s a great time to get a qualification in construction.

According to the National Careers Institute vocational education and training covers 7 out of 10 of Australia’s fastest growing jobs.

More than 77% of VET graduates are employed after training and the median full-time income of a VET graduate is $55,000.

Figures released during National Skills Week last month show 113,700 more workers will be needed in the building and construction sector in Australia by 2024, an increase of 9.7 per cent. In bricklaying, carpentry, painting, plastering, plumbing and electrical trades: - all trades are experiencing skills shortages in NSW, Tasmania and the ACT.

According to the National Skills Commission’s Labour Market Dashboard for Tasmania construction is one of the state’s top five employing industries. There is a huge variety in the careers on offer in the building and construction sector and vocational training sets people up with the right skills to make the most of the current opportunities.

Undertaking a trades qualification gives young people the skills they need to get a head-start on their chosen career, an opportunity to earn while they learn, gain industry relevant experience in their chosen field and gain a nationally-recognised qualification.

Grant Dreher is the CEO of TasTAFE