NCVER report shares experiences and outcomes for trade apprenticeships

Published: 22 September 2020

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has released a report that shared the experiences and outcomes for trade apprenticeships.

The report, titled ‘Traditional trade apprenticeships: experiences and outcomes’, is the final component of a broader study on traditional trade apprenticeships.

It looks at the experiences of the traditional trade apprentice and in doing so focuses primarily on the findings from the 2019 Apprentice and Trainee Experience and Destination survey, with data from the 2010 survey also included, where relevant, to examine any changes over time.

The report investigates the experiences and outcomes of apprentices who did and did not complete their traditional trade apprenticeship.

Key findings

The experience of undertaking a traditional trade apprenticeship

The main reasons cited for starting a traditional trade apprenticeship in both 2019 and 2010 were employment-related, for example, wanting a job or wanting to work in a particular type of job.

For those who did not complete an apprenticeship, the main reasons for non-completion changed very little between the 2010 and 2019 surveys, with employment-related reasons continuing to be the key concern.

In 2010, it was highly likely that the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) had an impact on their ability to continue, with a higher proportion than in 2019 losing their jobs or being made redundant.

In 2019, there was no single employment-related reason that dominated, although 12% of traditional trade apprentices either left their apprenticeship because they did not get along with their boss or co-workers or had lost jobs or been made redundant.

These findings highlight the critical role played by employers in supporting apprentice completion.

Not unexpectedly, the proportions satisfied with their apprenticeship overall, as well as with the off-the-job training and the features of their employment related to their apprenticeship, were higher for completers than non-completers in both 2010 and 2019.

A positive aspect to the figure for the traditional trade apprentices who did not complete their apprenticeship is the high rate of satisfaction with the off-the-job training, with around 70% of non-completers satisfied in both 2010 and 2019.

Outcomes from traditional trade apprenticeships

The main benefits received by traditional trade apprentices from completing their apprenticeship were employment-related and, in particular, that they gained a qualification/trade.

In contrast, non-completers gained extra skills for their job and cited the experience as the main benefit of undertaking their apprenticeship. Of concern is that almost 18% of non-completers indicated they had received no benefits from undertaking a traditional trade apprenticeship.

Completing a traditional trade leads to good employment outcomes. In 2019, over 90% of traditional trade apprentices were employed after completing their apprenticeship, compared with about 75% of non-completers. Completers also fared better than non-completers in staying employed with the same employer as their apprenticeship. Income earnings were also better, with the difference in median annual income approximately $19 000 in favour of completers in 2019.

For many traditional trade apprentices, completing or leaving the apprenticeship was not the end of their education or training experience, with around a fifth of completers and a third of non-completers going on to further study.

In 2019, almost 15% of non-completers moved on to another apprenticeship, suggesting they still saw value in pursuing an apprenticeship.

While the report covers a wide range of industries, it does give employers interesting insight into why apprentices started an apprenticeship, left without completing or changed employers.

The research also found that those who didn’t complete, still reported flow on benefits from the time they had spent in an apprenticeship. 

Report findings also highlight the critical role played by employers in supporting apprentice completion, something well known and practiced by AMCA companies.

Download the full report here.