Apprenticeship – An Underrated Career Option


The Marlborough Apprenticeship Graduation ceremony underpins the recognition that an apprenticeship is a very worthwhile career for young men and women. Our community needs trained and skilled people and it is only right that we should celebrate the success of those that complete their qualifications at all levels whether it be degree, diploma or trade certificate. When an apprentice graduates with a trade certificate in their vocation of choice it recognises they have moved from being a trainee to being a competent practitioner. There is an expectation that they will continue to develop their skills and in due course make their own contribution to train the next generation of apprentices and pass on the skills and knowledge they have learnt. This will add another dimension as they become a mentor and coach in addition to being a skilled tradesperson.

Apprenticeships have been around for centuries in all walks of life, as it is a proven way of training new people and developing a skilled workforce with some expectation of job security and loyalty. They learnt the skills to work with materials to make cart wheels and space craft, wine barrels and storage tanks. As they become masters of their trade they pass on their skills to a new generation of apprentices to complete a cycle. There were apprentices long before there were universities.

Given the critical role of competent tradespeople in our society it is surprising that it is not more popular as a career choice. In a recent survey conducted in two of our local secondary schools, the responses to the question “What level of study do you wish to complete?” was very concerning. Only 1.25% of boys and 1.01% of girls indicated a Trade Certificate/Apprenticeship. That is very worrying.

The knee jerk reaction is to blame the schools but that is wrong. In the same survey when asked whose advice they valued most 70% of boys and 74% of girls said parents. The question really should be why don’t parents see an apprenticeship as a worthwhile career for their sons and daughters?

The fact that parents have the biggest influence on a young person’s career choice should not be surprising and it is supported by research in New Zealand and other countries over a number of years.

The Marlborough Apprenticeship Graduation ceremony has been promoted and funded by our community leaders who have the vision to see that successful apprentices and qualified competent trades people are essential to a vibrant economy. Therefore it is very pleasing that this event is well supported by parents, employers and trade representatives who acknowledge this important milestone in a young person’s career.

Thanks and credit go to Peter Kemp for writing this article.

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