Apprenticeships have long been a cornerstone of training and skill development in the Australian construction industry. Since numbers peaked in 2012, uptake of trade and non-trade apprenticeships have been in decline in Australia. Alarmingly, according to AIHW data from 2018, of the 161,700 apprenticeships that commenced that year, more of them were cancelled or withdrawn (92,900) than completed (89,700).
Construction is one of the only industries where the numbers have been consistent, and supporting employers to take on apprentices is a major priority to fill key skill shortages.
According to Icon Metal’s Project Director, Chris Farmer, himself a former trade apprentice:
“Apprenticeships offer a great opportunity for practically minded people to advance their education. Learning with experienced tradespeople, combined with classroom theory, produces highly skilled, work-ready employees.”
Icon Metal are currently supporting three apprentices throughout their training. We talked to Tom in our workshop about his experiences:
Chat with Tom Barclay, an 18 year old apprentice at Icon Metal.
Tell us something we don’t know about you:
I enjoy catching up with my friends on the weekend. Going out for dinner & movies. I also enjoy gaming with friends on the PC.
What kind of apprenticeship are you doing?
I'm doing a TAFE apprenticeship.
What made you want to take on an apprenticeship as opposed to other forms of further education?
After leaving school in year 10, I was able to secure an apprenticeship with Icon Metal who were willing to put me through a TAFE course. This apprenticeship will support me financially and I won’t have a debt at the end of the course, unlike Uni.
Where are you at in your apprenticeship at the moment?
I’m in my 3rd year of 4 years. The 4th year is done in the factory.
What will you have at the end of it?
Cert III in Engineering & Fabrication.
Are you confident that you will be able to find work once you complete your apprenticeship?
Yes, I’m looking forward to continuing working at Icon Metal.
What do you plan to do on completion of your apprenticeship?
To continue to work at Icon Metal and further my skills and education in fabrication. Long term I would like to progress in the company and gain more experience.
Would you recommend apprenticeships as a career pathway and why?
Yes I would recommend apprenticeships, as they give you the platform to grow your career in your chosen field.
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